The word of the day in the events industry (well maybe after ‘unprecedented’) seems to be ‘pivot’. While this initially transports me back to the netball courts from my school days what it ultimately calls for is the ability to be agile and flexible during turbulent times and the need of taking different approaches. Covid is throwing up new challenges every day and the latest one we’ve grappled with is converting a normally in-person AGM into a seamless, virtual experience.
Here are some musings about our recent experience using zoom for an AGM and what strategies we put in place to deliver a successful meeting.
As with all things “events” preparedness is key so familiarise yourself with the technology and all the features you’ll be using, ahead of the meeting; having a rehearsal with key members of the Board and/or any other parties involved will ensure everyone knows what they’re doing and minimise the risk of any glitches. Even if it is in the space of an hour before the meeting begins, this is time well spent.
Write a script. Not only this can be used to keep track of the overall flow and agenda - much like a beloved run sheet – but also typically during an AGM there are certain things that are necessary to declare verbally. Writing these out as a script for the chair or convener ensures nothing is missed and everyone knows where they are and what’s coming next.
On the day, having a co-host/behind the scenes support buddy is a welcome addition. Not only does this alleviate some of the pressure but also provides crucial assistance. Assign roles from the onset, so there’s no duplication of effort and guarantees everything is covered. Having more than one person, in different locations, also mitigates the risk should any dreaded Wi-Fi issues arise and the unthinkable happens e.g. your internet drops, having that safety net can keep the meeting going and avoid any disruption. The other option would beto have a 4G Wi-Fi dongle handy as a back-up.
Once the majority of the attendees have entered the meeting give a brief overview of any key functions you want to use. For example, where they can find the ‘raise hand’ or ‘chat’ features if these are being utilised.
The chat feature allows members to talk to you directly as well as to the entire group. This can be a nifty and discreet means of addressing any individual concerns/technical issue rather than interrupting the whole meeting with lots of voices talking over one another. Though if you feel chat is too distracting, this can be always be disabled.
Polling and voting will likely come into play during an AGM so consider whether the results should be displayed to the entire audience or whether you would like to have them kept private. As is the case with any event, cater to your individual client or audience.
Finally, remember this is still a learning curve for everyone so don’t be afraid to trial doing things differently. Our forgiveness threshold for using technology in what would otherwise be an in-person event is relatively high at the moment so embrace the change and give it a go!
Written by Sophie Hind, Conference Manager