Mastering the Visuals in an eAGM
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
An Annual General Meeting puts strange demands on you as a board director. On the one hand, you may not be required to speak at all. On the other, you will be judged harshly for every move you do or do not make. The AGM is a seminal moment that is at once demanding yet constraining.
In a virtual AGM, this dichotomy is writ large. You are expected to appear engaged for the entire meeting, despite sitting alone staring at a screen and possibly never speaking. And yes, your audience really will see you throughout the meeting (read more about that here).
When a shareholder captures a screen grab of the live webcast and posts it on LinkedIn or social media, how do you want to appear?
Here are some things you can do to maximise the visual aspects of your eAGM presence:
Set up your background thoughtfully. Pictures on the wall should be attractive but not distracting.
Get the lighting right. Sit facing the window or a lamp to ensure your face is clearly visible.
Ensure the camera is level with your eyes.
Maintain great posture. Use a strong back, open shoulders and relaxed arms to show confident executive presence. If you are exhausted after the event, you’ve likely held your posture well.
Preview yourself on-screen. Hold a video call with your coach and take a screen grab: Do you look the way you intended? You can record yourself during that call and get an even clearer sense of your on-screen presence.
Speak to the camera. This is difficult in an eAGM, as you’ll be tempted to look at the other directors and management. The classic presentation technique – to look into the eyes of your audience – simply doesn’t work in a videoconference. You need to lift your eyes away from the faces on your screen or down at your notes and look directly into the camera. Practice this, as it’s not instinctive.
Dress for an AGM. You should dress exactly as you would on the AGM stage, even if you’re in the family spare bedroom (read more about that here).
Your eAGM may be scheduled on short notice during this extraordinary period of social distancing. IR Magazine reports that 9 in 10 IR professionals have put a virtual shareholder meeting into their immediate plans. So maximise every minute as you prepare.
Be sure to attend the rehearsals so the entire board syncs protocols such as introductions and handovers. Ask the coach for specifics to improve your appearance: Are you sitting at the right level? Have you chosen a suitable colour? Is your facial expression engaged enough, yet still presidential?
The content of the AGM will always be the backbone of the event. It’s a given that you will know your topics and be properly briefed on investors’ concerns. When you also master the visual elements, you send a congruent message to investors about the quality of your company’s board and yourself.