Depending on your business structure, you are most likely required by law to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) once every year, within a few months of the beginning of the company's financial year.
An AGM is an important event for your organisation. It is an opportunity to highlight achievements from the past year and provide members (the general public, employees and the committee) the opportunity to analyse the company's progress and projected health.
However, AGMs can cost an extraordinary amount of money to run. For the top 200 ASX companies, they can cost between $250,000 to one million dollars! If you have overseas stakeholders or your company operates across borders, the cost of holding an AGM can be particularly daunting. One solution to this is to allow meeting participants to join the AGM via teleconference.
In 2016, Omni Market Tide held what it claims was Australia's first virtual AGM. Shareholders were able to join the meeting from wherever they were in the world, as well as vote and ask questions. Megan Boston, OMT's managing director, said that the meeting "had 100 times the usual level of shareholder participation".
Benefit #1: increased AGM attendance
Flourishing businesses can easily attract hundreds of individuals interested in attending the AGM. However, travel costs may be prohibitive for many interested parties, resulting in the AGM not being as well attended as it otherwise could be.
To increase attendance, teleconferencing can be used as a way of making attendance much easier for those people. They can attend the AGM from anywhere around the world and will only require a mobile or landline telephone line and an access code to connect in.
Benefit #2: no venue hire required
If you have decided to hold your AGM via a teleconference, it's not only your guests that will benefit. If everybody is joining via phone, there's no need to hire out a venue and provide catering, saving your business thousands of dollars. A small enterprise is unlikely to have the facilities to host a large event such as an AGM in the first place, so companies of all sizes can benefit from the virtual nature of teleconferencing.
If the AGM hosts are presenting visual information such as data graphs, these should be emailed to all guests before the start of the teleconference so everyone can follow what the speakers are discussing. If it is not desirable to email out this type of information, the AGM could be held via a web conference instead of a teleconference.
A web conference allows the host to share their computer screen with the guests, who will all be sitting at their own computers. A web conference can be a one-way presentation or allow interaction between host and guests. You can share slideshow presentations, documents, videos and web content, conduct polls and surveys in real-time, and send files between guests.
No matter how you hold your AGM, it's always advisable to record the conference so that no important information is missed when taking minutes. Additionally, the recording can be distributed to people who were not able to attend the meeting.