Shareholders' meetings are a legal requirement in the UK and to show to your shareholders that you are capable of running a company effectively, the Shareholders' Meeting needs to be a well organised event that instills confidence.
When planning a Shareholders' Meeting, the first thing to do is identify the aims, in other words, what do you want to achieve. In the time that you've got the Shareholders in front of you, you'll need to convey confidence that you are running the company in the best possible way, that the Board is on top of any problems that may have happened during the year and to impress any future investors that may be in the audience as well as other particular aims that are specific to your company or to the year that you've just been through. Decide on your guest speakers, if you are having one and invite them, or ask the Chairman or Board member to introduce the meeting.
After the aims have been decided upon, identify the points that you want the Shareholders to remember and, using this information with the aims, spend some time deciding upon the agenda. It's a good idea to include timings and decide how you are going to stick to them. Shareholders aren't going to be happy if the main speaker drones on and overruns, leaving little time to raise questions that had been scheduled.
Identify a suitable venue for your Meeting, making sure that it's within budget and can cater for your projected size of audience. When choosing a venue, think about how people will move from the Registration area to the cloakrooms, to the refreshments to the auditorium and whether there will be any tight points that might require different planning. Include signage to make sure your audience can move swiftly to the allocated room from the check-in desk and from the cloakrooms or use the welcome team to move from the Registration desk to directing people when most of them have arrived. With the agenda in mind, book refreshments that are suitable for your timings, quantity of people and budget. If you've got a registration system that can gather data on dietary requirements, you'll be able to plan your resources in a more efficient way. Sort out and source the event tech that you and your presenters will need for the big day. Decide where the Help Desk is going to be to make registration more efficient.
All of these things could apply to organising any type of meeting and Shareholders' Meetings will need to include a few key differences. Minutes must be taken and retained as a record of the event, so appoint a secretary and brief them so that they know what to do if there is a problem. The Year End Reports need to be distributed and a notice of the AGM must be sent out to shareholders at least 21 days in advance and there needs to be a vote on whichever of these things apply to your company:
Obviously, if you are having a vote, you'll need to think about how this will be performed. Either a tech solution or a paper voting form, both distributed before the event and who and when the votes will be counted. Try to anticipate questions relating to any of these votes so that you've got people who can answer them and answers prepared.
After all this planning, send out emails or letters inviting your shareholders to attend. Choose a registration system that's going to do what you want which is not necessarily going to be a free one. If you want to maintain the confidentiality of your shareholders' data, a free system may not do that as most of them work on the basis that your shareholders' data becomes theirs in 'payment' for their system. Consider where the data is held, as EU citizens' data needs to be kept within the EU zone according to the GDPR 2018. Monitor the response after the invitations have been sent out and either increase the advertising to make your shareholders aware of the meeting or scale it down if the response has been overwhelming.
In the run up to the Shareholders' Meeting, prepare media kits if necessary to be distributed prior to the meeting if requested or available on the day. Print badges if required and make sure that you have a system in place for distribution on the day. Print extra copies of the Report and Accounts for attendees to use on the day as they won't necessarily bring their own copies that you sent them. Make sure that the signage, if used, is printed and ready for use and print venue maps if you think that will help delegates on the day. Prepare your staff so that they know exactly what they will need to do on the day, where the pressure points are likely to be and make sure they know when they will be able to have their breaks to keep them on top of their game. Make sure you've got people to clear up at the end so that vital pieces of tech don't go missing and any papers are not left lying around!
On the day, you'll need an efficient check-in desk, test the tech to make sure it's working, both for the presentations and the check-in and get everyone in place. Whilst all this is going on, try to remember what worked well and what didn't so that during your debrief session you can identify how to improve things for next year. And breathe, don't forget to take care of yourself during the day as you're the lynch pin for the whole organisation.
After the Shareholders' Meeting, debrief your staff to gather information for next year, email out a feedback form to your shareholders if you think it's appropriate to find out their opinions and you'll be set to stage another Shareholders' Meeting next year.