Hybrid AGM 101 Guide To Running A Successful Meeting Both Offline & Online

Hybrid AGM 101: Guide To Running A Successful Meeting Both Offline & Online

Annual General Meetings (AGM) are an essential part of any business as it is a valuable opportunity for your company to present its financial statements.

While an AGM is mostly seen as a chance to update stakeholders on the company’s progress be it good or bad, it is also an important time for the company to address any concerns and for stakeholders to raise questions about the health of your business.

 

For years, traditional AGMs have been the standard – they involve inviting relevant stakeholders to a conference hall or meeting room, followed by an in-person presentation, Q&A session and voting segment.  

 

Yet as technology advanced and unforeseen circumstances such as a pandemic occurred, the way an AGM is conducted has greatly changed. Hybrid AGMs are now considered the future for company-wide meetings, not just in Singapore but also everywhere else in the world. 

 

If your company is planning its next meeting and considering venturing into hybrid AGMs, this guide to running a successful conference both offline and online will be helpful. 

 

Keep reading to find out how you can ensure everything at your company’s hybrid AGM goes as smoothly as your previous in-room meetings. 

 

Part 2 – Everything you need to know about AGMs

 

2.1 What is an AGM and why is it important?

 

Before we delve deeper into the nitty-gritty details of a hybrid AGM, it is key to understand the need and importance of AGMs. 

 

According to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), all companies in Singapore must hold AGMs and declare the date of the meeting when filing the company’s Annual Return on BizFile+. Companies that are exempted from or have dispensed with the holding of an AGM would need to submit the details when filing the Annual Return as well. Directors who fail to follow the requirements can be prosecuted in court or fined. 

 

These stringent rules put in place by ACRA are to ensure every company in Singapore adheres to them, allowing stakeholders to get a clearer picture of how the business is doing as well as get their concerns addressed. 

 

At an AGM, directors of the company present the company’s financial performance while stakeholders are given the chance to vote on the issues at hand too. 

 

During this time, it is also essential that transparency is upheld so that the management can be brought to accountability. For instance, if the company has not been performing well, the AGM is when stakeholders can question the board of directors and management about the lacking performance. It is an opportunity for the management to answer queries about strategies and plans that will help to turn the company around, building trust and confidence in the shareholders. 

 

However, not all AGMs are grim. If the company has been doing well, it is also a good time for the directors and executives to share their vision of the company’s future with the shareholders. 

 

2.2 What is a hybrid AGM and what are the factors to consider?

 

What is a hybrid AGM and what are the factors to consider

As the world shifts away from traditional in-person AGMs, hybrid AGMs are a trend that is certainly here to stay. 

 

A hybrid AGM, as its name suggests, combines the best elements of both a traditional and virtual AGM together to achieve various benefits. This means that an offline session and virtual meeting will be held at the same time. 

 

Hybrid AGMs have been gaining popularity not without reason, but here are a few considerations to take note of before your company decides to explore this option.

 

1.Age range of your stakeholders

 

Although older employees or shareholders are probably more familiar and comfortable with in-person meetings, it cannot be denied that there is a growing number of millennials making up the majority of our workforce. 

 

Hence, it is up to your company to decide if it is time to embrace change and make meetings engaging for all.

 

2.Inclusivity

 

When companies hold an AGM, the best case scenario is to have as many stakeholders as possible attend the meeting. Alas, travel restrictions different countries have in place and the time and effort needed to attend an AGM can be deterring factors for some individuals, especially if they are not based in Singapore. 

 

Therefore, your company will have to consider how to improve inclusivity for all stakeholders so that the goals of the AGM can be achieved. 

 

3.Transparency

 

Transparency may be a concern for companies looking to explore hybrid AGMs. Worries such as inaccurate voting results are valid since it has to be done remotely without supervision for those who are attending the virtual AGM

 

Thus, it is important for your company to evaluate how this risk can be mitigated if it decides to proceed with a hybrid AGM

 

4.Embracing change

 

It may be normal for some to be resistant to change but as technology advances and industries progress, it is crucial for companies to get on with the times to avoid being left behind. 

 

Hybrid AGMs will only continue to become more popular, so your company has to consider ways to enforce this approach in an organic way to prevent resistance. 

 

5.Number of attendees

 

It is also necessary to consider the number of attendees when planning an AGM – will opting for a hybrid AGM allow and encourage more of your stakeholders to attend, or will it be something most of them are not keen on? 

 

2.3 How will a hybrid AGM benefit your business?

 

How will a hybrid AGM benefit your business

Remember to evaluate the considerations mentioned above before your company proceeds with a hybrid AGM and you should have a better idea if this is something your organisation will benefit from. Nevertheless, if you are still unsure, these benefits of holding a hybrid AGM will help to make the decision-making process easier. 

 

1.Best of both worlds

 

Your company gets the best of both worlds if it chooses to hold a hybrid AGM as less tech-savvy stakeholders can still choose to attend in-room meetings, whereas others are given a chance to attend virtual AGMs through an AGM webcast. This fills the lack of interaction by letting people attend in person, but at the same time also offers accessibility by providing an online option.

 

There will also be better inclusivity since stakeholders who are not based in Singapore can still watch the live stream and share their opinions virtually. 

 

2.Greater transparency

 

Transparency may be a concern but this can be easily mitigated by collaborating with a trustworthy and experienced video production company. They have the latest technology such as secure AGM webcasts available in Singapore with robust voting systems that can be tracked in real-time. 

 

3.Increases engagement

 

You may be surprised to find out that hybrid AGMs can increase engagement, as compared to just holding an in-person meeting. This is thanks to the various features of an AGM webcast, such as Q&A functions, live polls, feedback sessions, chats and discussion rooms. 

 

Some stakeholders may feel more comfortable speaking up in a virtual AGM by typing out their opinions or questions, helping to make the meeting a more fruitful experience. 

 

4.Reduces carbon footprint

 

If your business is big on sustainability, you will be glad to know that holding a hybrid AGM is one of the ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint. A virtual AGM removes the need to print materials on paper and takes away the requirement for all attendees to travel down to the venue. 

 

These simple changes can make a huge difference in your company’s impact on Mother Nature. 

 

5.More flexibility

 

In today’s pandemic era, regulations and restrictions can change rapidly and you want to be able to anticipate them. Hybrid AGMs give your company more flexibility in the event of sudden changes – for instance, in-person attendees can be quickly redirected to the online platform so that the AGM goes on as planned. 

 

The virtual AGM is essentially a backup plan that will come in handy in unforeseen situations. 

 

1.Best of both worlds

 

Your company gets the best of both worlds if it chooses to hold a hybrid AGM as less tech-savvy stakeholders can still choose to attend in-room meetings, whereas others are given a chance to attend virtual AGMs through an AGM webcast. This fills the lack of interaction by letting people attend in person, but at the same time also offers accessibility by providing an online option.

 

There will also be better inclusivity since stakeholders who are not based in Singapore can still watch the live stream and share their opinions virtually. 

 

2.Greater transparency

 

Transparency may be a concern but this can be easily mitigated by collaborating with a trustworthy and experienced video production company. They have the latest technology such as secure AGM webcasts available in Singapore with robust voting systems that can be tracked in real-time. 

 

3.Increases engagement

 

You may be surprised to find out that hybrid AGMs can increase engagement, as compared to just holding an in-person meeting. This is thanks to the various features of an AGM webcast, such as Q&A functions, live polls, feedback sessions, chats and discussion rooms. 

 

Some stakeholders may feel more comfortable speaking up in a virtual AGM by typing out their opinions or questions, helping to make the meeting a more fruitful experience. 

 

4.Reduces carbon footprint

 

If your business is big on sustainability, you will be glad to know that holding a hybrid AGM is one of the ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint. A virtual AGM removes the need to print materials on paper and takes away the requirement for all attendees to travel down to the venue. 

 

These simple changes can make a huge difference in your company’s impact on Mother Nature. 

 

5.More flexibility

 

In today’s pandemic era, regulations and restrictions can change rapidly and you want to be able to anticipate them. Hybrid AGMs give your company more flexibility in the event of sudden changes – for instance, in-person attendees can be quickly redirected to the online platform so that the AGM goes on as planned. 

 

The virtual AGM is essentially a backup plan that will come in handy in unforeseen situations. 

 

6.Saves costs

 

Most importantly, a hybrid AGM will help your company to save costs since there will no longer be the need to pay for the shareholders’ travel and accommodation expenses. They can easily join the meeting via an AGM webcast and still go through the same experience as everyone else attending the in-room meeting. 

 

7.Improves attendance

 

Last but not least, holding a hybrid AGM may just be the solution to low attendance. Giving your stakeholders the option to choose between an in-person or virtual meeting based on their preference encourages them to attend. Travelling may also be a concern for some, so a virtual AGM allows them to join in without having to physically travel to the location. 

 

Part 3 – The nitty-gritty details of holding a hybrid AGM

 

3.1 Challenges of a hybrid AGM and how to overcome them 

 

Now that you have a better understanding of how hybrid AGMs will benefit your company, you may be wondering if there are any challenges your business will have to face. Like any other new initiative, venturing into a hybrid AGM model comes with its share of obstacles but the good news is they can always be resolved with the right tools and sufficient preparation. 

 

Here are some challenges your business may face and how it can overcome them. 

 

1.Technical difficulties and concerns

 

Hybrid AGMs will usually be live-streamed so that virtual attendees are on the same page as those who are attending the meeting in person. However, there is always the chance of a poor connection or broadcasting interruptions that can make the meeting difficult. Cyber security and data protection concerns are valid too, and there may be doubts about the reliability of the AGM webcast

 

Thankfully, choosing a reliable video production company that is well-versed in providing high-quality platforms and technology can help to make hybrid AGMs a success. They will usually have a technical team on-site to deal with any technical issues so that the AGM runs smoothly. 

 

2.Non-technical challenges

 

Aside from technical issues, virtual AGMs may also present non-technical challenges such as attendees raising their views at the same time and talking over one another, silence during discussions when stakeholders are too shy to speak up, and difficulty authenticating attendance. These can cause disruptions to the meeting but like most challenges, can be avoided. 

 

Your company should choose an AGM webcast platform that has a chat box function to allow questions to be raised and comments to be made; a hand-raising function to avoid sudden interruptions; Q&A tools that will encourage more people to participate; attendee authentication to prevent unauthorised people from joining. 

 

3.Governance challenges

 

Some governance challenges that are relevant when it comes to virtual AGMs range from how votes are counted and tracked, to what happens when an e-voting platform runs into technical difficulties mid-meeting. 

 

This is where a dependable AGM webcast comes into play – some make use of Blockchain technologies to ensure voting integrity and reliable vote counting. An on-site technical team will also assist your company in rectifying any problems in the event the e-voting platform is down during the meeting. 

 

Aside from relying on the video production company, there are some things your organisation can do to mitigate these risks even before the meeting starts. 

 

Some examples include getting the chairperson to communicate rules of engagement at the beginning of the meeting, and sending out emails or press releases to inform stakeholders of the structural changes to meetings or voting methods. 

 

3.2 The ultimate checklist for running a hybrid AGM

 

Most importantly, a hybrid AGM will help your company to save costs since there will no longer be the need to pay for the shareholders’ travel and accommodation expenses. They can easily join the meeting via an AGM webcast and still go through the same experience as everyone else attending the in-room meeting. 

 

7.Improves attendance

 

Last but not least, holding a hybrid AGM may just be the solution to low attendance. Giving your stakeholders the option to choose between an in-person or virtual meeting based on their preference encourages them to attend. Travelling may also be a concern for some, so a virtual AGM allows them to join in without having to physically travel to the location. 

 

Part 3 – The nitty-gritty details of holding a hybrid AGM

 

3.1 Challenges of a hybrid AGM and how to overcome them 

 

Now that you have a better understanding of how hybrid AGMs will benefit your company, you may be wondering if there are any challenges your business will have to face. Like any other new initiative, venturing into a hybrid AGM model comes with its share of obstacles but the good news is they can always be resolved with the right tools and sufficient preparation. 

 

Here are some challenges your business may face and how it can overcome them.

 

1.Technical difficulties and concerns

 

Hybrid AGMs will usually be live-streamed so that virtual attendees are on the same page as those who are attending the meeting in person. However, there is always the chance of a poor connection or broadcasting interruptions that can make the meeting difficult. Cyber security and data protection concerns are valid too, and there may be doubts about the reliability of the AGM webcast

 

Thankfully, choosing a reliable video production company that is well-versed in providing high-quality platforms and technology can help to make hybrid AGMs a success. They will usually have a technical team on-site to deal with any technical issues so that the AGM runs smoothly. 

 

2.Non-technical challenges

 

Aside from technical issues, virtual AGMs may also present non-technical challenges such as attendees raising their views at the same time and talking over one another, silence during discussions when stakeholders are too shy to speak up, and difficulty authenticating attendance. These can cause disruptions to the meeting but like most challenges, can be avoided. 

 

Your company should choose an AGM webcast platform that has a chat box function to allow questions to be raised and comments to be made; a hand-raising function to avoid sudden interruptions; Q&A tools that will encourage more people to participate; attendee authentication to prevent unauthorised people from joining. 

 

3.Governance challenges

 

Some governance challenges that are relevant when it comes to virtual AGMs range from how votes are counted and tracked, to what happens when an e-voting platform runs into technical difficulties mid-meeting. 

 

This is where a dependable AGM webcast comes into play – some make use of Blockchain technologies to ensure voting integrity and reliable vote counting. An on-site technical team will also assist your company in rectifying any problems in the event the e-voting platform is down during the meeting. 

 

Aside from relying on the video production company, there are some things your organisation can do to mitigate these risks even before the meeting starts. 

 

Some examples include getting the chairperson to communicate rules of engagement at the beginning of the meeting, and sending out emails or press releases to inform stakeholders of the structural changes to meetings or voting methods. 

 

3.2 The ultimate checklist for running a hybrid AGM

The ultimate checklist for running a hybrid AGM

Before your company goes ahead to plan its hybrid AGM, there is also a set of requirements to fulfil. Refer to this checklist to make the process a breeze. 

1.Compliance with regulations

According to ACRA, listed companies must hold an AGM within 4 months after your company’s financial year-end (FYE), and file the annual return within 5 months after your company’s FYE. 

Unlisted companies are allowed to hold an AGM within 6 months after your company’s FYE and file the annual return within 7 months after your company’s FYE. 

Private companies may be exempted from holding an AGM if they meet the criteria specified in section 175A of the Act

2.File an AGM notice

It is mandatory for your company to file an AGM notice and the written notice must be circulated to the shareholders at least 14 days before the meeting. Take note to include details such as time, date, venue, right to appoint a proxy, resolutions that will be discussed, information for those attending the virtual AGM, and copies of pertinent documents such as financial statements and annual reports. 

3.Finalise venue and logistics

Next, pay attention to setting up the physical and virtual spaces for the hybrid AGM

For the in-room meeting, consider different room setup styles that will facilitate better discussions or interactions. For example, the auditorium style boasts a row of chairs facing the front of the room to achieve maximum seated capacity, perfect for mass meetings like an AGM. If your company is only planning on having a handful of the major shareholders present, then a boardroom-style seating arrangement may be suitable as it features a rectangular or oval table that allows face-to-face interaction. 

Do not forget the virtual AGM while you are getting the finishing touches of the physical venue ready. Your company can consider collaborating with a video production company that will help out with the logistics and setting up of various pieces of equipment to ensure that the live stream, discussions and votings run without hiccups. 

4.Choose the right virtual AGM webcast platform

Lastly, choosing the right AGM webcast for the virtual meeting is as important as everything else in this checklist. Look out for powerful features, such as secure live voting and Q&A, that will reduce the chances of issues occurring during real-time webcasting. 

Remember to request an on-site technical team to handle any technical issues as well for a seamless meeting.  

Once your company has chosen the AGM webcast platform, there are also various preparations to take note of, like creating and assigning roles in the platform; giving voting control to the management; registering accounts and verifying shareholders; matching proxy records; setting up the shareholders portal for voting and Q&A. 

When your company works with a video production company that is experienced in helping companies hold hybrid AGMs, you can rest assured that these new and unfamiliar procedures will not be as daunting as they seem. 

3.3 Useful tips for a successful hybrid AGM

Useful tips for a successful hybrid AGM

Before you go ahead and start planning a hybrid AGM for your company, keep these useful tips in mind that will surely come in handy. 

  • Utilise an AGM webcast that can track and authenticate attendance and rename virtual attendees 

 

This will significantly reduce the risk of fraudulent behaviour that can affect the integrity of the AGM, while also making the life of administrators easier by preventing inaccurate attendance tabulations and duplicate entries. 


  • Choose an AGM webcast with a secure voting platform 


This prevents inaccurate voting tabulations as well as suspicious activity. Make sure to check that the voting platform is able to accommodate your organisation’s unique voting requirements. 

 

  • Anticipate technical issues and be prepared to resolve them


While using a reliable platform for your company’s virtual AGM can reduce the chances of technical hiccups, it is always best to anticipate them and come up with a contingency plan to mitigate them. One way is to ensure that the necessary personnel and resources are readily available to solve any technical issues quickly if they arise. 

 

  • Have a proper AV setup 

 

Consider working with a trusted video production company that provides high-quality AV set-ups to make sure both in-person and virtual attendees have access to a secure and superior video stream with clear audio and visuals. 

 

  • Step-by-step instructions 

 

Prepare e-mails and send them to all stakeholders who are interested in joining the AGM virtually to lend them a helping hand in accessing the webcast. Consider including a step-by-step instruction manual because not all stakeholders are tech-savvy. 

 

  • Come up with a script


Preparing a script for a hybrid AGM can be tricky as you need to come up with one that caters to both in-person and virtual attendees. Although long speeches are usually expected at AGMs, they can be monotonous and boring for online attendees. Hence, the script should be stimulating and concise to keep both parties engaged. You may also want to incorporate breaks and integrate live polls and Q&As in between to break up the monotony. 

 

  • Conduct a rehearsal 

 

Like any other major event or performance, conducting a rehearsal helps everyone familiarise themselves with their roles and responsibilities, and allows the team in charge of the AGM to make any last-minute changes that will allow the event to run better. 

 

  • Keep it engaging with visuals

 

AGMs may be lengthy and cause attendees to feel lethargic after a while but your company can always keep it engaging by utilising more visually appealing content, such as graphs, charts and pictures. 

 

  • Prepare post-AGM materials beforehand

 

Have all post-AGM materials signed off by the committee beforehand so that they can be sent to the attendees right after the meeting for their perusal and action. Your company can consider including a feedback form to get your attendees’ opinions on how the virtual AGM went, especially if it is the first time the business is conducting one. Valuable feedback can be used to make improvements to future hybrid AGMs for an even better experience. 

 

Let Will Dylan help you with all your hybrid AGM needs

Let Will Dylan help you with all your hybrid AGM needs

Here at Will Dylan, we do not just assist companies with their webinar needs and produce corporate videos for various businesses. 

 

We are also well-versed in helping organisations achieve a hassle-free and successful virtual or hybrid AGM

 

As your AGM webcast partner, we work hand in hand with your company to execute a secure meeting that is all in accordance with ACRA’s and SGX’s guidelines. 

 

Our team at Will Dylan only believes in delivering an impactful experience, which is why we offer HD video and audio quality, ease of setup and remote solutions such as a secure P2P connection that will make your hybrid AGM a professional and memorable event. 

 

The virtual AGM can also be recorded to give those who were unable to attend a chance to keep abreast of the company’s progress, and ensure meeting minutes are taken down as accurately as possible. 

 

Let us help you with your hybrid AGM needs – contact us for more information

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