Before you start and plan fully, it may be wise to check if your association or company is allowed to conduct the annual meeting digitally. For most nonprofits or companies, there are no internal barriers to digital meetings, but companies should keep track of the current legislation that can be changed. For Swedish companies, you can read more about the rules that deal with digital meetings at the Swedish Companies Registration Office.
The next step is to investigate whether you want to conduct your digital annual meeting completely digitally. That is to say, delegates and secretariats are in different places and no invitation to a physical location is send out. In a so-called hybrid meeting, however, there is the possibility for delegates to be present where the meeting takes place or from any other location, i.e. a combination of a physical and a digital meeting.
Both types of meetings have their advantages and disadvantages from different perspectives and giving a general tip on what your association or company should implement is difficult. Fully digital annual meetings have the great advantage that they can almost always be conducted as planned. During the corona pandemic, this has often been the only opportunity to hold its annual meeting or congress.
Hybrid meetings are beneficial in that they meet the needs of all members. Both members or shareholders who prefer to be in a physical location can do so while other members who may live far away from the place where the meeting takes place can participate at the same time. This increases the accessibility, transparency and democracy of an organisation.
Whether you are going to hold your meeting completely digitally or in hybrid format, you need to investigate what technical aids are needed in the organization. The very first to check is which video conferencing tool you want to use. The most common tools are:
• Microsoft Teams
• Google Meet
All three tools work about the same and the cost is very low. There is a good chance that your organization is already using one of these tools and then the choice will be easy because functionality does not differ significantly between the different options.
For the vast majority of organisations, it is wise to take a closer look at a meeting system. The advantages of using it instead of just one video conference tool are many. GoPlenum can use, among other things, more advanced voting procedures such as weighted votes, open list elections or automatic record keeping. In addition, support is available to easily administer participants before, during, and after the meeting, while there is a clear structure for participants when they follow the meeting. Click here to see all the major features of GoPlenum.
For large organizations, associations and companies, the benefits of using meeting systems are obvious. It will be easier to keep track of large numbers of participants, proposal , amendments and so on. But even for small organizations, there are advantages. For example, many of GoPlenum's customers have reported that they have more and more engaged participants at their annual meetings than in previous years and see that trend to continue in the rest of the business as well. A meeting system also builds democratic credibility and transparency.
An important aspect to consider when choosing a meeting system is the simplicity of use and the possibility of support and training as it can significantly affect how long planning time you need for the meeting. Having access to simple instructions and support is important, which is why we created our resource center that is continuously updated with information.
Like physical annual meetings, preparations are required to hold a successful digital or hybrid meeting. Inform members that the meeting will be completely digital or hybrid, including links to the video conference. It can also be smart to schedule a test meeting for those who want to try the technology. This is particularly recommended for the Management Board and the Secretariat/Administrators. With GoPlenum, all organizations have access to a demo meeting where you can test all the features.
Import participants, documents, cases and proposal in your meeting. About a week before the meeting, it's a good time to invite attendees to sign in and try signing in to the meeting because it makes it easier during the meeting day. If you are going to have a hybrid meeting, it is also good to check that the room you are going to use has good enough networks to handle the amount of participants you expect to participate on site.
Start admitting participants to the video conferencing tool approximately 60 minutes before the meeting begins. One suggestion is that you start the meeting by repeating general instructions about the tools you use and then conduct a test vote as well as test roll call. Then you just have to carry out the meeting as planned.
Now the meeting has taken place and hopefully it has been a great success. After the meeting, the documents shall be examined and compiled into a protocol. To simplify this process, GoPlenum has a protocol that is auto-generated and is available for download after the meeting has been completed.
The final step in holding a digital annual meeting is actually linked to investigating what went well and what can be improved for the next meeting. Feel free to ask members/shareholders/participants and administrators what they thought of the process and write down measures for the next meeting.