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Chairperson preparation for AGM success

The role of the chairperson is nuanced and wide-ranging. As orchestrators of the Annual General Meeting (AGM), they’re responsible for upholding good governance and facilitating meaningful discussions. 

With the hybrid meeting format soaring to represent 40% of all meetings globally in 2023, chairpersons need to think as carefully about the format their meeting will take, as they do about engaging shareholders and activist campaigns

Preparing your chairperson is no small feat, but it’s crucial for upholding the reputation of your organisation. 

Here are three key tips for ensuring the chair leads the meeting effectively and is prepared for the unexpected.  


Tip 1: Prepare key documents 

Effective AGM preparation starts with a well-crafted plan, ensuring all documents, agendas and scripts are prepared, reviewed and distributed well in advance. 

Collaborate closely with chairpersons to develop an agenda, including thorough briefings to highlight key resolutions and potential areas of concern. In addition, provide timely updates on any last-minute changes to ensure your chairperson isn’t caught off guard when the curtain drops.  

Preparing a comprehensive script is crucial in shaping your Chair’s thoughts and speech delivery. This should not only provide talking points for discussion, but also include nudges to engage with your shareholder base, pause for questions or ask for feedback.  

Is your Chair a particularly gifted speaker? Have they got a great sense of humour? Injecting personality into your AGM script is key to driving shareholder relationships and affinity to your business. 

Tip 2: Undertake rehearsals  

Rehearsals are important for ironing out any potential technical difficulties, especially for virtual or hybrid AGMs. Virtual elements bring their own set of challenges, such as managing online questions, polls and maintaining a smooth flow of communication. 

The chairperson must be confident in using meeting technology and engaging with virtual attendees effectively. Practice sessions become essential to build familiarity with broadcast features, ensuring the Chair is inclusive of all participants whether they are attending in person or virtually. 

Rehearsals provide an opportunity to address and overcome these challenges, guaranteeing a seamless and engaging AGM experience for all participants. 


Tip 3: Prepare for the unexpected

It’s crucial to prepare for unexpected situations that may arise during the AGM. Corporate secretaries should work closely with the chairperson to develop a contingency plan that addresses potential disruptions.  

Proactive engagement with key shareholders before the AGM allows for a better understanding of their expectations and concerns, allowing you to identify areas of shareholder concern or dissent early on. 

Having a plan in place to effectively manage shareholder activism or revolt, or shareholders who feel strongly about a particular topic will help to manage conflicts that may arise, whilst upholding good governance through balancing transparency with confidentiality. 

By following these tips, you can elevate your chairperson to navigate and seamlessly lead the most important meeting of the year with success.