For many years, the standard regarding private equity annual meetings has been to conduct in-person gatherings or, at least, hybrid meetings. The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, caused firms to rethink that practice. Now, the industry has shifted to virtual annual meetings, and with that shift has come the inevitable trial-and-error phase as organizers try to determine the best way to conduct these events.
Fortunately, enough remote annual meetings (and remote meetings in general) have been held now that best practices are beginning to emerge. Four tactics that we are hearing about from our clients and other sources that seem to be particularly important are:
Annual meeting checklist
- Poll stakeholders on what topics they want to see covered.
At this point, we all know that it’s more difficult to stay engaged and attentive in virtual meetings. Consequently, it’s important to focus on what the majority of attendees want and need to know and address any other issues with follow-up conversations. There are many polling tools you can use to conduct your survey, including SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and Google Forms. And, an added benefit of the time and energy you invest in your outreach is that you can store your poll results and notes for each respondent in your AIM CRM. Then, not only can you contact them if you were not able to answer their questions during the meeting, you now have greater insight on what’s important to them that you can leverage in the future.
- Rethink the meeting duration.
Private equity firms would historically hold annual meetings as an all-day affair, or at least an 8-hour event. For virtual annual meetings, the average person will not be able to sit at a computer screen beyond 4-hours. Aligning best practice #1, surveying your investors will help you measure what will be able to be addressed during the meeting for maximum efficiency. However, another best practice that has been shared within the industry is a two-day virtual event at 3-hours so your investors can stay engaged without feeling screen-fatigued.
- Establish and share “rules of conduct” for attendees.
While virtual meetings are very common today, not everyone has experience with them. So, it’s a good idea to document rules that can guide behavior and help make the meeting more productive. For example, you should request that attendees mute their microphones when not speaking. You should also develop guidelines for when attendees should and should not ask questions, and explain when and where any questions received through a “chat” function will be answered.
- Record the meeting and follow-up with attendees.
One best practice that has been well-received is live virtual annual meetings. Without having to jump on a plane to attend the meeting, investors are experiencing the meeting in real-time. However, it is still it’s important that you record your remote annual meeting and make that recording available to attendees. Some may have had to miss important content or will want to watch certain segments again. You may also want to share the recording with any non-attendees who could benefit from the content. A great way to do that is through a virtual data room and engagement portal like ShareSecure. It’s the ideal tool for providing secure access to your recording since it has enterprise-grade security features.
And, of course, you want to be very familiar with the video conferencing service you choose to use, including how to get prompt technical assistance if needed.
Annual Meetings and the Right Tools for the Job
As noted above, products like AIM and ShareSecure—which have tremendous value under any conditions—are especially valuable at a time when remote work and remote annual meetings have become the norm. And with leading-edge tools like these, getting up and running is easy and the intuitive interface helps users get comfortable and productive quickly.
Beyond virtual annual meetings, the Altvia technology suite can help your team navigate deal flow management, investor relations, fundraising, and firm operations more efficiently and effectively. See how private equity firms use Altvia by viewing our clients and case studies.