As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, public companies are needing to adapt to new ways to conduct normal business in a virtual world, including holding annual meetings, investor days, participating in investor conferences and outreaching to new investors. As we all adapt to this new current reality, we wanted to provide some advice and resources on how to optimize these activities.
Benefits of Virtual Shareholder Meetings and Investor Days
While face-to-face meetings can promote relationship-building, virtual events offer a range of benefits:
Virtual events are an efficient way to keep your shareholders informed on the fundamentals of your business, even when in-person business has been put on hold. We have observed that investors are using this recent market correction to find new ideas that they may have missed out on. By hosting virtual meetings and analyst days, you can remain visible with investors and establish your company as a good potential investment when these market risks subside.
If you had investor or shareholder meetings on the calendar prior to the spread of COVID-19, the transition to a virtual event is typically very simple. Investors, shareholders, and analysts who were scheduled to attend will already have that time blocked off on their calendar.
While it may not be business as usual, milestones still need to be met as promised. For example, if your company was scheduled to present recent clinical data at a medical meeting, introduce a new product or release updated software, you must still communicate that the status of those projects — and hosting a virtual meeting is the workaround.
Without facility and hotel fees, both you and your attendees will likely experience cost savings. Plus, virtual meetings can likely be scheduled for a shorter time frame than in-person meetings, which can encourage attendance and allow everyone involved to quickly get back to their other business priorities.
Tips for Hosting a Virtual Shareholder Meetings and Investor Days
With the right preparation and technology, you can still conduct these meetings successfully. Here are our recommendations for hosting virtual meetings:
There are many platforms available that can deliver a seamless virtual event experience to your attendees. Some of the more sophisticated programs offer a complete end-to-end virtual meeting experience, including video, slides, Q&A management, and even voting functionality.
When choosing a platform, consider whether you need a mobile-friendly platform to provide your attendees with additional flexibility. Also make sure your platform offers appropriate security options. When hosting virtual shareholder meetings, for example, you may want to provide each attendee with a control number used to log in, so you can carefully control attendance and ensure accurate voting. (See below for a summary of platform options)
If you are replacing an in-person event with a virtual event, it’s critical to make sure your attendees are aware of the change. Issue a press release and follow up with email messaging to let investors and shareholders know how to access the meeting. Also be aware that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued guidance around virtual shareholder meetings.
While the main messaging for the meeting will be fairly similar to what you’d need for an in-person meeting (e.g., a script, a speaker, and a PowerPoint deck), you’ll need to consider how to facilitate other means of engagement, like your Q&A and voting. Several technology platforms offer integrated tools that make this easy — so, for example, an attendee can simply type in a question during the presentation, and your company leaders can address it when it comes time for the Q&A.
In the face of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must be flexible. Transitioning to virtual shareholder meetings and other events can keep your business moving — and benefit attendees as well. If you have questions or need more help in transitioning to virtual events, please reach out.
Virtual Meeting Technology Providers