Annual meetings usually are dual purpose. They are both a requirement and a time to connect in-person with your staff, board, and membership. At a time where we continue to practice social distancing, in-person meetings may not be an option. What do you do now?
Move your annual meeting to an interactive online format.
There’s a lot to planning virtual annual meetings, but it doesn’t have to be daunting to plan and execute yours. You don’t have to figure it out alone or stress about the details. The Synergent team knows and understands your credit union, and credit unions in general. We want to help make things easier for your team in any way that we can. Having assisted many credit unions with hosting virtual meetings, our team can become your virtual event planner. In advance, we help strategize your event and our award-winning design team can prepare your materials and communications. During the live meeting, we can manage call moderation, monitor Q&A portions, track member voting, and facilitate all of your audio/visual needs.
Whether it is an annual meeting or another meeting you want to host remotely, our prepackaged solution includes:
- Planning and Consultation
- Live Meeting Moderation
- Email Notifications to Invitees
- 30-minute “Dress Rehearsal”
- 20-minute Pre-Meeting
- 90-minute “Live” Meeting
We are here to help! Here are the 10 steps Synergent can help you follow to execute a successful virtualized annual meeting.
It’s never too early to start annual meeting preparations. Ensure the necessary bylaws are in place to move your meeting to a virtual environment. Then, give yourself plenty of time to formulate a rough outline of what you want to accomplish, and to review and understand regulatory requirements to ensure you are in compliance to hold a virtual annual meeting.
Determine your meeting goals. Are you looking to create an experience that includes significant engagement and discussion? Or are you simply satisfying the obligation to hold the annual meeting. (There’s no wrong answer to this! Your strategy may be to stick strictly to business and keep the meeting brief.)
This may be an opportunity for your credit union to try something new. Through an online meeting, you can connect (virtually) face-to-face with members and enjoy an interactive, engaging event together. Because of the virtual format, you also may be able to reach a larger group of members, some who may not have been able to attend in-person in the past.
The devil is in the details. An annual meeting under normal circumstances has a lot of moving parts! Add in the element of hosting online and the list of logistics to address grows.
Start by determining who is presenting and what your agenda is. Who is covering which topics? Who is speaking when? Get practices on the calendar early to ensure competing schedules align and you have more than enough time to get comfortable.
By adding video, this is the time to decide which platform you will use to host your meeting and how you want to present. (Who is on-screen? Is it just the presenter or everyone? Will there be a combination of PowerPoint slides, videos, or other visuals? Who is running the event?)
Communication is key to the success of your virtual annual meeting. Plan your print or email communications to invite your members to the meeting. This is your opportunity to give them any information they need to review ahead of time to be prepared for the meeting, such as items that will be voted on or copies of financial reports. Because of the online format, this also is the time to share login credentials and instructions on how to connect to the meeting.
To ensure you have quorum, consider offering an incentive, like a gift card giveaway that participants are entered to win if they attend the meeting. Share social media posts and create lobby signage to advertise your event.
Make the most of the digital format. Find creative ways to leverage the tools you use to engage with members remotely. For example, in the video platform, make use of the chat window or voting options. Present a PowerPoint with animations and transitions. Include video where possible.
Your credit union’s annual report also is an opportunity for a digital experience. Consider preparing it as an Interactive Digital Publication that can be emailed to members or posted to your website following the presentation. (See some examples our award-winning design team has prepared with our partner credit unions in the past: Dirigo FCU Annual Report, OTIS FCU Annual Report, and Maine Savings FCU: Owners Guide.)
Create and finalize your coordinated meeting agenda, presentation, annual report, voting ballots, and any other materials you’ll need the day of your annual meeting. Themed materials bring a unified feeling to the experience and also serve as an opportunity to reinforce your credit union brand. This piece of the planning process can be quite time intensive when considering writing content, creating graphic elements, putting the pieces together, editing, finalizing, and circulating. Give yourself plenty of time to make these preparations.
Practice makes perfect! When practicing, you don’t want to do a simple dry run, you’ll want to make use of the platform that you’ll be using at the actual meeting. This is your time to rehearse transitions, ensure everything works as it should on your computers (video, microphones, etc.), and to troubleshoot your plan to ensure your annual meeting is presented flawlessly. This also is a good time to identify and rehearse the flow of motions to accept reports, minutes, and votes.
On the day of an annual meeting, you may normally have some pre-presentation jitters. Totally normal and we understand! Presenting online can be stressful in new ways. Is the video and microphone on? Are all attendees on mute? How’s the internet connection? Is the video platform working? Is the recording actually working?
You have to expect the unexpected. Technical difficulties could arise, someone could unexpectedly wander into the background while presenting, something else could go not according to plan. It is okay. We can “what if” all day long, but things happen. Be as prepared as possible, pivot when necessary, and have a backup plan wherever possible.
While holding annual meetings is an obligation, this also is a chance to have fun! Connect with your membership and remind them why cooperative credit unions are different. Your credit union is awesome and their membership with your institution allows them to be part of the People Helping People movement.
You did it! The meeting is over. Your role is not quite done yet though. Be sure to post a copy of your recorded meeting on your website and send one more email to your members, including the link to your video and annual report, thanking them for attending.
“Thank you for all the work you did in facilitating and preparing for our member virtual meetings. Both went off without a hitch and we are so appreciative for that. You handled things very professionally and help us put forth a very positive impression to our members. We couldn’t have pulled this off without your expertise! Very commendable.”
—Rick Lachance, CEO of Connected CU
“Our meeting went very well; we were able to hold an election and re-elect one board member, and vote in another. Isn’t technology great?”
—Bev Knapp, President/CEO of Franklin-Somerset FCU
“Thank you SO much, Synergent team, for making this meeting possible and for working your magic behind the scenes. It was seamless and we couldn’t have done it without you. Big kudos to all!”
—Alison Voisine, Marketing Manager at Acadia FCU
Here to Help
Let us take care of the tough stuff so you can focus on what matters most: presenting an effective, impactful meeting to your members. Get started by downloading the pre-planning checklist, then contact us to schedule a time to discuss your annual meeting needs.