The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many Condominium Corporations to adjust how they conduct governance procedures, including their Annual General and Owner Meetings. Over the past year, we have seen many corporations transition from in-person to virtual meetings.
Word about the benefits of conducting these meetings virtually has since quickly spread, with many Property Managers and Board Members now viewing virtual Annual General Meetings (AGM) as a viable, effective, efficient, and arguably better experience than traditional in-person AGMs. However, some Property Managers and Board Members who have not used GetQuorum to conduct a virtual AGM often ask if they'd be able to host their corporation's virtual AGM on their own, in the hope of reducing the cost associated with conducting the meeting.
This is completely understandable, as responsible boards will always seek to minimize costs to their corporation, so naturally, when considering a new service, like virtual AGM hosting, they will closely review the service and compare alternatives to determine whether it's the right fit for their corporation.
While small corporations are able to execute a successfully virtual AGM independently, larger corporations have more complex and sophisticated meeting procedures that can't be executed by simply inviting their owners to attend a virtual meeting hosted using a web-conferencing platform like Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, or GoToMeeting. Yet, many boards cannot fully understand why using their own webinar software may be an insufficient solution for their upcoming AGM.
Many Property Managers and Board Members also underestimate the potential drawbacks and challenges of independently hosting their corporations meeting virtually. So before you decide to conduct your virtual Annual General Meeting independently, here are some of the drawbacks and challenges you should consider before doing so.
Oh, for context, we're going to assume that everybody knows why they should use advance voting and electronic proxies prior to the meeting; we'll just be focusing on the procedures linked specifically to conducting a virtual AGM.
Meeting attendance and registration must be streamlined!
Meeting attendance is a crucial factor in determining the success of an Annual General Meeting. Without the required amount of attendees to reach quorum, an AGM cannot be conducted. This becomes even more of a challenge when holding a virtual AGM without a solution that automates the RSVP and registration processes and accurately authenticates those in attendance at the meeting.
Without an automated and secure registration process, corporations are forced into manual and lengthy processes to ensure quorum is met before the meeting starts, causing delays and adding unnecessary pressure to the meeting facilitators (e.g. PMs, Lawyers, Chairpersons, Boards).
To put into perspective how challenging this can be for meeting facilitators, let's take a look at the example below:
A corporation is independently facilitating their Annual General Meeting virtual through Zoom Meeting. They have 100 ‘attendees’ in their Zoom meeting and now need to determine the following:
• How many of those attendees have submitted proxies prior to the meeting?
• How many of those attendees are ineligible to vote due to arrears?
• Do you have quorum?
• Will there be enough owners present to vote and pass bylaws?
In this example, the meeting facilitators will now need to manually find the answers to these important questions because virtual meeting software, on its own, is unable to answer these questions automatically. On the other hand, if the corporation decided to use GetQuorum’s Hosted Virtual Meeting solution to facilitate their meeting, this is where our integration with Zoom comes into play to automate the process. Through our API integration with Zoom, GetQuorum can instantly determine which attendees have voted via proxy, who is an 'eligible voter' and what the true meeting registration numbers are instantly and without delay. This automation helps improve meeting efficiency and data accuracy for meeting facilitators.
Unfortunately, the challenges related to meeting attendance don't stop there. When conducting the AGM, boards must ensure that they are using a solution that can authenticate the identity of those in attendance. Otherwise, your meeting will be susceptible to security breaches by unauthorized personnel joining the meeting. This may not only be uncomfortable for attendees but can also result in major legal infringements and roadblocks that can completely derail an AGM—significantly increasing the time and monetary resources spent conducting your virtual meeting.
Live, in-meeting voting can be a challenge....
When it comes time for in-meeting voting on directors, bylaws or any other matters that require a secret ballot, the need for a service provider that can support live voting becomes more acute. Virtual meeting software like Zoom, GoToMeeting and otherwise, are wholly insufficient at supporting this for many of the same reasons outlined above during meeting registration. More specifically, the native polling tools commonly found in these platforms cannot accommodate the needs of Condo Corporations' which will have both paper and electronic proxies heading into their AGM. To elaborate, a majority of these native polling tools only allow ALL attendees to vote and will not account for those present that have already submitted a proxy, the weighting of ballots for proxy holders, and those ineligible (e.g. in arrears) to vote.
Ultimately, the challenge is reconciling live in-meeting voting with advance voting without an automated system, which, if done manually, would have to be conducted through be a time-consuming, lengthy process that can be vulnerable to voting errors, jeopardizing the legitimacy of voting results and nullifying the benefits of hosting your meeting virtually.
Automated solutions like GetQuorum not only offer voters the ability to revoke proxies and vote live without delaying the meeting but also can calculate voting results in real-time, providing the answers to questions such as:
• Which voters submitted proxies before the meeting?
• Do they wish to revoke and vote live?
• Which voters had proxies assigned to them, and have they been properly weighted to reflect that?
Furthermore, detailed polling results may not be available instantly and cannot be maintained per the requirements of some legislations, such as the Condo Act in Ontario.
Technical Issues - Are you prepared for when they arise?
Unfortunately, even when using the most stable and secure platform, technical issues can arise during a virtual meeting. That's why many corporations have opted for a technically moderated and supported virtual AGM service, like the one offered by GetQuorum, to begin with.
Without the resources and expertise on hand to handle any technical issues that arise, troubleshooting the cause of these issues can be a challenging and time-consuming task, especially for those who lack experience conducting virtual meetings.
Furthermore, these technical issues and the need for additional support often go beyond the need to simply reconnect an attendee to the meeting or address issues with the electronic voting tool's functionality. Meeting facilitators and service providers must also be capable of handling issues unique to conducting an AGM virtually, such as when a tie in voting occurs, or an issue resulting in a re-vote arises.
Not being able to address these types of issues quickly and efficiently if they arise mid-meeting is not only frustrating but can jeopardize the legitimacy of the meeting and voting results further emphasizing the importance of being able to address the challenges if they arise.
You can’t forget the legal challenges...
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, it is always important to ensure that your virtual AGM is compliant with the applicable legislation and bylaws throughout the process. While it's impossible to know when and if there will be a challenge related to something like an election and voting results, it is prudent that you are able to address them accordingly if they do arise to ensure bylaws and legislative compliance.
In the past, GetQuorum has been asked to verify a wide range of items in response to in-meeting, legal challenges such as the status on whether owners have established connections to virtual meetings, information on whether an owner submitted a proxy, if an owner voted live and more.
The ability to provide all of the data pertinent related to these legal challenges is essential. That's why the GetQuorum platform is able to 'unpack' all of the data pertinent to a legal challenge, and it's critical that meeting facilitators can do the same to ensure a successful, legally compliant AGM.
Final Thoughts and Recap
Those are some of the major challenges and drawbacks Property Managers and Board Members should account for before deciding to conduct their virtual AGM without the use of a Hosted Virtual Meeting solution.
We understand that some corporations will feel comfortable conducting their virtual AGM independently and will use GetQuorum for strictly proxy-voting and notice of service prior to the meeting, and we're happy to play that part. However, we urge Boards and Property Managers to strongly consider the drawbacks and challenges of conducting their meetings without using a virtual AGM service before doing so.
For those that decide to conduct their meeting independently, we hope this blog has provided you with an understanding of the potential challenges that may arise during your meeting and will help you establish the necessary framework to conduct your meeting efficiently and effectively.
If you would like to learn more about GetQuorum's full-service, solutions, click here.
If you would like to schedule your virtual AGM, click here.