At a time when shareholders, colleagues and customers can’t share the same physical space in the same way, annual calendar milestones such as businesses annual general meetings (AGMs) are being cancelled across the UK. Back in May, companies such as Barclays Bank held their first ever virtual AGM in the history of their existence while the London Stock Exchange pushed for more companies to be allowed to host AGMs in an online environment. The Canada Business Corporation Act (CBCA) allows for virtual events and the Australasian Investor Relations Association (AIRA) has also been pushing for virtual AGMs to become a permanent change.
Meanwhile, companies such as the iconic shoe brand Jimmy Choo have been blazing a trail, having hosted their first virtual-only AGM way back in 2016. Now is the time for organisations across the UK to follow suit.
With an increasing number of public companies now being allowed all-virtual AGMs (or ‘all-hands meetings’ if you’re not a public company), it’s important to know the scale of your AGM ahead of time in order to prepare and ensure you have the right technology in place to support a seamless and professional AGM which rivals the live version (albeit without the notorious ‘free’ lunch).
The AGM in a virtual world
AGMs tend to get a bad rep. Often known as long, unengaging conferences delivering company updates and repeated information, running an AGM or an all-hands meeting that attendees will love is often a challenge.
Ultimately, the main aim of an AGM is to deliver critical company updates and to give stakeholders a voice. It’s this latter point which can really come to the fore in a virtual environment. If you’ve ever received feedback that your annual conference feels a little single-sided, or that there wasn’t enough opportunity for questions, now is the time to mitigate that.
Some stats have shown that attendance has spiked since some companies have offered an online equivalent to their AGMs. Transforming your annual meeting into a virtual event could mean you uphold the true purpose of an AGM more effectively than you might in a traditional, physical conference environment.
With video conferencing technologies becoming increasingly popular in replacing live events, businesses now have access to the technology they need to make their AGM or all-hands meeting more interactive, more engaging and more transparent in an increasingly remote working environment.
In this blog post we’ll explore:
- Why businesses are delivering their AGMs online
- How to use RingCentral Video to deliver a company-wide event
- How your business stakeholders could benefit from a switch to virtual events
Why businesses are delivering their AGMs online
Businesses are beginning to host their AGM or all-hands meetings virtually as a result of the global pandemic, but also for a number of other reasons. Business leaders have had their eyes opened to the idea that these virtual versions of their annual meeting, may provide significant benefits for their employees and stakeholders and also for the bottom line of the organisation.
Businesses can significantly reduce costs by delivering their annual conference online. The logistics, props, venue hire, travel and accommodation expenses mean organisations have to allocate high budgets for their AGM. With the right technology now at our fingertips, organisations only need to invest in the right video conferencing software and the necessary hardware.
Due to how easy it is to attend an online conference; organisations are seeing a better turnout for their online events in contrast to the in-person counterpart. Attendees don’t have to commute or travel at all and can participate in the event from wherever they are in the world.
Transparency and inclusion
The video conferencing software available should empower all participants to speak up and be heard in your annual event. Allowing your stakeholders to have a voice is a key consideration when conducting an AGM be that online or otherwise. Using a polling or question and answer platform such as Slido or simply allowing questions via the chat function in your video solution allows you to open the floor to participants.
How to set up a virtual AGM or all-hands meeting on RingCentral Video
Technologies such as RingCentral Video are designed specifically to enable remote communication on a large scale and make collaboration easy and secure for increasingly distributed teams.
We’ve outlined our five-step guide to setting up and running your annual conference (or in fact any type of virtual meeting) via RingCentral Video:
Step 1: Sign up for RingCentral Video
Take a look at the plans and pricing options available with RingCentral Video, and make sure you select the level of service you may require for your business needs and the size of your conference audience.
Step 2: Install the app
Log in to your RingCentral online account and download the software onto your desktop for a more seamless virtual meeting experience. If you want to be able to access your messages and meetings while you’re on the move, it’s wise to also download the app on your mobile device.
Step 3: Schedule a meeting
Once you have your account set up and the app installed, you’re all set to schedule your first meeting. Once you’re logged into the software, here’s what you should see:
You can click the ‘Start’ button to kick-start a meeting straight away, or for a pre-planned meeting or conference, select ‘Schedule’ to set up the date and time for your conference. With your admin privileges, you should be able to enable or disable specific features depending on the requirements of your event.
Familiarise yourself with the app and the security features you can put in place to protect your conference from cybercrime or abuse. For example, you can password-protect your conference and even enable or disable your attendees’ video for a meeting before it starts.
Step 4: Invite your attendees
Depending on the plan you choose, you can invite up to 10,000 attendees to your annual conference. Your participants can even access the event without having to download the app, meaning that they can access the meeting from wherever they are via their browser.
You can choose to invite your virtual conference attendees via the following methods:
- Email or SMS, directly from your RingCentral App
- Google, iCal or Microsoft Outlook calendar invites
- Give participants a code and ask them to sign in on their browsers
Step 5: Launch and deliver your meeting
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the app and its features and run a practice meeting or two you should feel prepared to deliver a glitch-free video conference.
You can choose to allow your participants to let themselves in or set up a ‘waiting room’ where they can be on hold until you’re ready to launch the meeting. It’s a good idea to establish whether you want your participants on mute. You can do this via the settings or ask them to mute their microphone at the beginning of the conference, allowing for verbal questions later.
If you have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to punctuality, you can “lock” the meeting room (so latecomers won’t interrupt your conference mid-flow).
The key benefits for your stakeholders
RingCentral Video not only benefits you as a business owner, but your employees and stakeholders also reap the rewards.
Video conferencing has made events such as your all-hands meeting or AGM much more collaborative. With features such as Screen sharing and annotation, file sharing and live chat capabilities, businesses can do away with the regimental formality of the traditional conference, modernise and transform the procedure to support a more collaborative virtual working environment in general.
When you choose a platform like RingCentral Video, your business data is safe and your event will be fully secure if you make sure you choose the correct security settings.
Conferences shouldn’t be a one-way dirge of information. Yes, more often than not, you’re presenting the annual report. However, it should be a time for your staff to voice opinions, concerns and for your business to seek out that valuable feedback too. Virtual events enable businesses to better hand the mic to their staff.
The future of the workplace looks a little different thanks to the pandemic. With businesses increasingly inhabiting a more virtual space, now is a good time to review your internal and external meetings and events strategy, not just for 2020, but into the next decade. Planning for a more virtual equivalent of your annual general meeting not only helps you to communicate with stakeholders, it also helps you to troubleshoot and future proof the culture of your entire business.
Originally published Nov 03, 2020, updated Jan 17, 2023