Online AGMs

Hosting an online AGM requires you to do more preparation in advance of the meeting. For example, in sending out the meeting notice, you will need to know all the locations (physical and digital) that will be involved, Front-loading the effort can be advantageous for your corporation—it means your members have better access to information and more chance to participate.

Once you decide to host your AGM online, there are various things to consider. You might have chosen the software or program to use for the video connection, but how will you manage all of the other aspects? Making your agenda available before and during the meeting, recording attendance, enabling members to update their details in the register of members... These are just a few of the important parts of managing an AGM online.

Of course, the legislative requirements are the same whether your AGM is in person or online or both. You just need to ensure everyone has the same access to information and opportunities to contribute.

This page is an introduction to available options. It complements our page on online meetings in general. We hope there is sufficient detail here for you to choose the tools to ensure your AGM is a success for your members. Note that software offerings change all the time. Information on this page is current as at the end of September 2020.

Go well! And if there are other tools or resources you find useful for your AGM, please share them with us.

What features do you need for your AGM?

Before choosing a tool, it is important to think about the features you need before, during and after the AGM. Below, we have detailed the aspects of an AGM that you need to cover in order to hold your AGM online. Thinking about each of these will help you decide on which combination of tools to deploy.

Our webpage on corporation meetings includes a section on members’ meetings. All of the information on that page applies to an online meeting as well. Below are mostly additional aspects to consider in the context of an online meeting. (See also our guidance on online meetings, which includes a lot of general information about technology for meetings.)

Notice of meeting—If your corporation doesn’t have its own template, download our template for a notice of AGM. For an online AGM you will need to add:

  • the online location (aka the web address or URL)—and whether the online location is in addition to one or more physical locations for the meeting, or the only way to attend
  • whether members will need to create an account or use a passcode—or anything else they need to know—including what to do and who to contact if they have difficulty joining the meeting

If the idea of an online AGM is unfamiliar, you could include in the notice further details about how the meeting will run, such as:

  • the full agenda (as a link in the meeting notice)
  • how you will record members’ attendance and apologies (and proxies, if they are allowed)—and check you have quorum
  • how you will enable members to check their entry in the corporation's register of members
  • how you will share reports and any other documentation—in advance of and during the meeting
  • how members may ask questions
  • how voting will occur to elect directors, approve the proposed auditor, and for any other resolutions
  • what opportunity will members have to discuss and debate proposals before them

Each of these points is elaborated below.

Agenda—Will you include a link to the full agenda when you send out the meeting notice? Doing so gives members a good chance to consider all the aspects of their involvement with the corporation. Then, during the meeting itself, how will you ensure everyone has access to the agenda? For example, will you display it on a digital whiteboard or post a link in a discussion forum or document library?

Attendance, apologies, proxies and quorum—You may want to use a digital RSVP tool so members can register their intention to attend or not, in advance of the meeting. If so, you will also need a way to register proxies (if your rule book allows them). But you will also need to check actual attendance, to ensure that you reach quorum—and maintain it for the duration of the meeting.

Register of members—One routine part of every AGM is getting members to check (and confirm or specify changes to) their entry in the register of members. This is another aspect of the AGM that could be done in advance of the real-time meeting. You need a way for members to confirm that their entry is correct, as well as to specify changes required. 

Sharing reports—Consider how best to share important information, such as directors’ reports or financial reports, to members only. Ideally, these documents will be available online along with the agenda and register of members, in a single online location.

Questions—The tool you choose for the video call is one way for members to ask questions. Some tools have a ‘raise hand’ button to alert the chair that you’d like to speak. Others have a chat facility alongside the video interface. Be sure to let members know which channels you prefer them to use in order to participate in the conversation.

Voting—You need a secure, anonymous way for members to vote for their preferred directors, to approve the proposed auditor and their fee, or to agree or disagree with any proposed resolution.

Discussion—Your chosen toolset should include a feature for members to discuss and debate (by text, audio or video) the proposals before them—in advance of the vote. Ideally, the tool would enable any proposer of a resolution to record a short audio or video message so that the members have a good chance to consider the ideas in advance of the meeting.

Some options to consider

Facebook

If your corporation already uses Facebook it can be a great adjunct tool for your online AGM. Create a private group and invite all your members to join. Then you can post an AGM event to the group—and include the agenda in the event description. Members and directors will be able to advise of their attendance, or write an apology if they decline.

One of the best features of a Facebook event is the ‘wall’ for the event: a private space for attendees to write comments before, during, and after the meeting. These posts can be used as a question board throughout the meeting if someone is able to monitor the event page for new comments.

There are a few considerations when using Facebook. Firstly, you cannot email event attendees from within the application. So, when you create an event, your invitees might not be notified until they next log in to Facebook. Secondly, it is important to note that files cannot be uploaded or shared by Facebook, and that any polls you conduct on the site are not anonymous, so this platform is unsuitable for director and auditor elections.

Microsoft Office 365

One big benefit of using Microsoft’s Teams application for your online AGM is that guest users need not have a Microsoft account. In fact, members can join using whatever email address the corporation has used to invite them. So it would be simple to set up a meeting and invite all your members.

Microsoft is best known for Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Any member may use a basic versions of these programs for free online. Alternatively, they can pay a monthly or yearly fee to access the fully-featured programs for offline editing.

Microsoft Forms enables you to set up anonymous surveys to poll your members—although the experience is less intuitive than other offerings such as Google Forms. It is also important to note that in the free version of Microsoft Forms, there’s no feature to limit the number of responses that a person submits—so it’s unsuitable for director and auditor elections, as anyone could vote for a single outcome multiple times.

Also note that while any member may use the chat feature to ask a question in the Teams meeting, those questions go out to the whole group.

Google

Google 's offering has the most features, but is also more complex. There is an app for everything! You could host your meeting in Google Meet, invite attendees through Google Calendar, collect information through Google Forms, and share files and folders through Google Drive.

One of the best ways to use the Google Suite is to only access the features you need. For example, if you hosted your AGM agenda in a Facebook group, you could still use Google Forms to anonymously collect responses for director and auditor elections.

While you could use Google for every aspect of your online AGM, there are a couple of things to consider. It is important to note that because Google’s services do not require users to have an account, it is difficult to ensure that only the members and directors you intend to access certain information get access. There is a way to lock it down—by requiring all members and directors to create a free Google email account—but that burden may be too big to bear.

Finally, similarly to Microsoft Teams, while questions can be asked in a Google Meet session, they will be public, and not logged beyond the meeting.

Loomio

Loomio is a Kiwi company whose purpose is to enable better decision-making. It‘s a strong option for organising and collaboration online, so could be a good option for your corporation’s AGM.

Once users are signed up with Loomio, they will be able to see and respond to questions that you can pose to all members and directors. For example; What day and time is most suitable for our AGM? You can post the agenda, and ask for feedback and additions. You can also choose how long to keep a poll open, and whether the responses are simply yes/no or a ranking, and so on.

Similar to Facebook, you cannot send out a meeting invitation from the Loomio system—so you would need to use your usual system for notifying members of the AGM.

Loomio also allows the sharing of documents and files—but members and directors would need to take turns adding their details and uploading for the next person to contribute, as only one person can edit at a time.

Another great feature of Loomio is the ability to create sub-groups. For example, you might have a members group, a directors group, and a group for your youth council.

Paired with anonymous polling and other collaborative tools, these features make Loomio a good option for highly-engaged and motivated groups of members.

This software comes with a price tag, but there are discounts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.

OnBoard

With features designed specifically for board meetings and AGMs, OnBoard provides the most professional experience. Some features absent from the other services are eSignatures (members and directors would be able to digitally sign a document on the platform), a collaborative agenda builder, a secure and private messaging platform, and Zoom integration. With these features, OnBoard can make for a very efficient AGM.

Keep in mind that, currently, OnBoard does not support anonymous polling. For other votes and approvals, it does a great job of making it clear to users what is being voted on—with the ability to package documents and files within the voting screen.

Like Loomio, this software comes at a price, but it is discounted for non-government organisations, and a free trial is available.