Your Virtual AGM: Four Questions Answered
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
As corporations prepare to deliver their first-ever virtual Annual General Meetings, directors are asking many questions.
If you are a director with limited time and a strong intention to represent the board well, here are answers to the most common questions we hear.
How should I look?
You should look exactly as you would on the AGM stage. If you would typically wear a suit, you should wear it for your virtual AGM, even if you’re in the family spare bedroom.
Your background must be equally professional. While it’s acceptable for your bookshelves or room décor to be seen in the shot, make sure no item distracts the audience from the business at hand.
Your videoconferencing provider will take you through a full online rehearsal – and you must participate. It’s your one chance to ensure the board presents its best self to investors. Dial into your application before that session to do your own test, and press ‘record’ to capture a sample that will show you how you are coming across on-screen.
No one will focus on me if I’m not speaking… correct?
This is a dangerous fallacy, so never fall for it. Video platforms have many different displays so you can never be sure when and how your face will be projected. Your only option is to assume you are on-screen throughout the event. Adopt an engaged-listener expression and maintain it the entire time.
Shall I do a microphone-test as I start?
Speakers often default to timid questions such as ‘Can everyone hear me?’ before they make their first statement. Unfortunately, this sends a message of hesitance at exactly the moment when the listener is longing for confidence. You’ll do better to start immediately with a strong voice and thoughtfully chosen statement. If you can’t be heard, you’ll be informed quickly enough. You can fix the audio issue and make your statement again.
Can I look at notes?
You can, but be mindful of how you come across when you do this. You want to shore up shareholder confidence so lift your eyes to the camera as much as possible. If you need to look at notes, hold them at camera level and only glance to pick out key words.
The virtual AGM presents an opportunity to send a strong message of good governance, transparency and respect for investors. Make the most of it.