The way organizations conduct their governance meetings has changed. Whether you're a 600 unit condominium, 200 member trade association, or a private corporation with dozens of shareholders, the odds are the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered how your organizations conduct governance meetings, such as Annual General Meetings (AGMs).
What was once executed predominantly through in-person meetings and manual or paper-based processes has since evolved; with the widened adoption of virtual meeting formats and an increase in the use of technology to conduct key processes during these meetings.
And while this increased use of technology has largely had a positive impact on governance meetings, many have begun wondering what the future of these meetings will look like as we enter our post-pandemic world, with many pointing to hybrid meetings. A suitable option for many organizations, hybrid meetings can be complex and have their unique set of challenges that must be considered. With that said, here are a few tips you need to know for running a successful hybrid AGM.
What is a Hybrid AGM?
A hybrid Annual General Meeting (AGM) is an Annual General Meeting where attendees can participate in-person or through electronic means. A hybrid Annual General Meetings format mirrors that of an in-person or virtual Annual General Meeting.
Know Who's in Attendance
Accurately tracking meeting attendance is not only crucial for determining whether quorum has been achieved at your meeting. Knowing who's in attendance at your meeting is essential to ensuring the integrity of voting results and preventing fraudulent activities and becomes even more important and significantly more challenging when holding a hybrid AGM.
While many meeting organizers may initially think they can simply track attendance manually, getting an accurate attendance tabulation for your hybrid meeting can be challenging, especially for meetings with a few hundred or more attendees. This is why meeting organizers should always utilize a dynamic virtual meeting platform that can automatically track the registration and appropriately rename virtual attendees, answer voter eligibility questions, and overall streamline the attendance process when running a hybrid meeting. Using a platform with a capable feature set will significantly reduce the risk of inaccurate attendance tabulations or duplicate entries and help prevent fraudulent behaviour that can jeopardize the integrity of your meeting and corresponding results.
Choose the Right Voting Platform
Selecting a suitable voting platform for your meeting is crucial. Without a secure, dynamic voting platform that can accommodate your organization's unique voting requirements, meeting facilitators will be responsible for manually finding answers to important questions, like;
- Who has submitted a proxy or advance ballot prior to the meeting?
- Is this attendee eligible to vote on this matter?
- What is the weight of the ballot(s) submitted by each voter?
Correctly answering these types of questions is necessary for accurately tabulating voting results and is imperative to the success of your meeting. And without having in-person and virtual attendees cast their ballots through a single voting platform that can answer these questions automatically, finding the answers to these key questions and accurately tabulating ballots becomes a daunting, time-consuming task that is prone to errors. Therefore, a secure electronic voting platform with a robust feature set, such as GetQuorum's Electronic Voting system, that can accommodate your unique voting requirements and keep voter data secure is a must for any AGM.
Ensure all Attendees can Participate Equally
When planning a hybrid AGM, ensuring that all attendees have a positive, inclusive meeting experience should be a top priority. Attendees should have a seamless experience where they have an equal opportunity to ask questions, participate in elections and participate in other meeting activities, regardless if they're joining in-person or through virtual means. And while having virtual attendees join your meeting via standalone webinar software might appear sufficient, the lacking feature set of most platforms makes them wholly insufficient for most AGMs.
Organizations should always use a virtual meeting platform with a capable feature set, such as GetQuorum's Virtual Meeting platform, that allows virtual attendees to view the meeting, cast ballots, and actively participate in other meeting activities like those attending in-person.
Be Prepared to Resolve Technical Difficulties Quickly
During this time of remote work and virtual gatherings, technical difficulties are something many of us have struggled with from time to time. And while frustrating when they arise, failing to resolve technical issues quickly can be catastrophic to the success of any hybrid AGM.
The last thing any meeting organizer or attendee wants is to deal with is unresolved or persistent technical issues throughout the meeting. Ongoing or unresolved technical difficulties can negatively impact the experience for all attendees, especially those attending virtually, and can hinder the ability to execute activities such as conducting an election. That is why meeting organizers should always use reliable platforms and ensure they have the necessary personnel and resources readily available to solve any technical issues quickly if they arise.
Have a Proper AV Setup
One of the most important components of any hybrid meeting is audiovisual (AV). While simply live-streaming your in-person meeting through the webcam of your strategically placed laptop might seem sufficient, it's often inadequate for most hybrid AGMs.
An inadequate AV setup can negatively impact the experience of both in-person and virtual attendees significantly. That's why to ensure their hybrid AGM runs smoothly; meeting organizers should have a good idea of how many people they will be hosting in-person and virtually and ensure they have the appropriate AV hardware. Often, it is best to work with a trusted AV provider to make sure both in-person and virtual attendees have access to a meeting environment where:
- Virtual attendees have access to a secure, high-quality video stream
- In-person and virtual attendees are provided with clear audio
- Meeting minutes account for both in-person and virtual attendee conversations.
Simply, a proper AV setup for your meeting will provide both in-person and virtual attendees with the best possible meeting experience.
Hold a Dress Rehearsal
Before the actual date of your hybrid AGM, you should always hold a dress rehearsal.
Commonly overlooked and undervalued, dress rehearsals aren't only a great time to practice your meeting script. Dress rehearsals are also an opportunity to iron out any technical difficulties and make sure everyone involved understands their role and responsibilities throughout the meeting to ensure your meeting runs smoothly from start to finish.
All to say, a hybrid AGM can be a viable option for organizations of all sizes across all industries. And while similar to in-person and fully virtual meeting formats, It's important to remember that hybrid meetings have their own unique set of challenges that must be considered. However, running a successfully hybrid AGM should be a breeze with thoughtful planning, adequate preparation, and the proper tools.
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