Here’s our top tips for IR professionals planning your first virtual AGM:

1. Firstly, check – does your company constitution allow for direct voting?

Many ASX listed companies do not expressly allow for online voting. You will need a legal review of your constitution to check whether it’s possible.

2. Are you using trusted technology?

With online voting a critical part of hybrid or virtual AGMs, using a trusted technology provider is essential.

We have been assessing global providers of virtual and hybrid AGM technology and recommend looking for a provider who has a track record of hosting successful online voting, offers robust data security, and can deliver a combined webcast and voting solution.

3. Are your presenters camera-ready?

Don’t forget that the AGM is a formal event, so how your presenters look should reflect this – just as if they are presenting in a physical meeting. Presenting from a home office means you must consider the background, as well as how close the presenter is to the camera. Can you provide background signage as you would for a traditional AGM?  Do take the time to book in a rehearsal to make sure the meeting runs smoothly on the day.

Also don’t forget that body language and eye contact are also important, a presentation is as much about what you say but how you say it. Just like in the offline world, AGMs are an opportunity for shareholders to spend some face to face time with their CEOs and Boards (even if virtually).

4. Are you enabling active and robust Q&A?

Ensuring transparency in the shareholder question process is a critical part of an AGM. Be clear with participants about how Q&A will be handled and the different ways to submit questions – can questions be submitted online only or can they be submitted prior to the meeting?

It is vital that shareholders are able to have active and robust interactions with management and the board at appropriate times.

It is also worth discussing protocols for answering Q&A with board members, so all speakers are clear on the process for answering shareholder questions. While in a room, it may be easy to know who the most appropriate person to answer specific questions is, that becomes harder in an online environment.