How to Host an Annual Shareholder Meeting (Step-by-Step)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • June 24, 2024
Annual Shareholder Meeting
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A company’s annual shareholder meeting is a fundamental part of sound corporate governance. These formal gatherings provide the perfect opportunity for shareholders (also known as stakeholders) and the board of directors to take stock of the current business and discuss potential paths forward for the organization. 

Hosting these meetings can be a complex and time-intensive endeavor. It takes a strong sense of organization to track and present relevant information, manage meeting logistics, and guide meeting conversations to be consistently productive for all parties.  

While every organization has unique characteristics, there are a few standard guidelines that will be successful in most environments. From keeping board meeting minutes to ensuring conversations remain on topic, here are some tips on how to host an annual shareholder meeting. 

What is an Annual Shareholder Meeting?

As the name implies, an annual general meeting (AGM) is a yearly meeting where shareholders and board members converge to discuss business matters, review financial reports, and vote on the election or removal of company directors. AGMs are mandatory for both public and private companies. 

All shareholders are legally obligated to receive an invitation to these meetings. The board of directors should also be represented. An auditor may also be present if the organization is subject to an audit requirement. 

While corporate board members are present at shareholder meetings, the main voice in these settings is that of the investors. Owning company stock provides holders with equity and, depending on the type of stock they own, the right to vote during shareholder meetings. 

Stock is often made available in two forms: preferred and common stock. Common stock is more plentiful and what investors typically acquire on the stock market. Common shares provide the right to vote, a privilege not available to those with preferred stock. What those with preferred shares do get are priority claims on dividends, meaning that they receive payouts before investors with common stocks.

How to Host an Annual Shareholder Meeting

Follow these steps to host an annual shareholder meeting.

1. Planning and Preparation

A successful annual shareholder meeting requires detailed preparation. Key to this is the meeting agenda, which informs attendees of what topics they can expect to discuss in chronological order. This sets reasonable expectations for all parties and helps them arrive prepared. 

Another essential aspect of meeting prep is to confirm the date, time, and location of the meeting. Choose a place that is accessible for all attendees and complies with internal and external bylaws. If the meeting takes place in an online setting or hybrid form, use your organization’s digital conferencing platform of choice and send a link to the meeting in advance to provide easy access. 

2. Notification to Shareholders

Once you have an agreed-upon agenda and setting for the meeting, the host can send a notice to all shareholders and board members invited to the AGM. Annual shareholder meetings require a notice period of at least 21 days. The notice period can be shortened with the expressed consent of all shareholders. The notice should include all the basic meeting details and other important pieces of documentation, such as the meeting agenda. 

3. Organize the Meeting Logistics

Rehearse with any equipment or software you plan to use before the meeting to make sure everything works properly. If you are using digital platforms, test their capacity to confirm the system can handle the expected number of attendees.

Prepare copies of the meeting agenda and any relevant reports (financial statements, proxy statements, etc.) for attendees, either in physical form or through a secure online portal. Determine the voting method (electronic voting platform, paper ballots, etc.) and ensure everyone understands the process.

4. Conducting the Meeting

Conducting the meeting requires balancing a focus on key information with fostering an open and engaging discussion. It’s important to create an environment where shareholders feel comfortable raising questions and participating actively.

Utilize clear calls to action throughout the meeting, inviting attendees to submit questions beforehand and during designated Q&A periods. Acknowledge all questions and address them in a timely manner, providing clear and concise answers. If a complex question requires further research, offer a timeframe for a follow-up response.

While allowing for open discussion, it’s also important to keep the meeting focused and efficient. Stick to the agenda, gently steering conversations back on track if they stray too far from the planned topics. Manage time effectively by allocating a reasonable amount of time for each agenda item.

5. Post-Meeting Follow-Up

The host’s job doesn’t end immediately after the annual shareholder meeting. First, they must distribute copies of the corporate minutes to each board member and shareholder to be reviewed for any mistakes or missing information. 

In the following days, they should then send a follow-up email to everyone who attended the meeting to receive feedback regarding their performance and the structure of the meeting. This uncovers ways to make future meetings a better experience and to build rapport with other attendees.

OnBoard Powers Corporate Boards

Whether AGMs or closed board meetings, it’s vital for meeting organizers to maximize the meeting time in order to continue pushing their business in a positive direction. 

OnBoard’s board portal software provides the support to streamline your next board meeting. It offers a number of features to help any company maximize productivity and efficiency, such as:

  • Secure messaging system
  • Built-in Zoom integration
  • Customizable agenda builder
  • Board evaluation surveys to collect opinions from the group
  • Meeting analytics to raise the level of decision-making

In addition to corporate businesses, OnBoard is also used by governments, banks, nonprofits, and higher-education institutions. The platform also comes with several security measures to protect your data. 

Download OnBoard’s free Board Meeting Minutes Template to learn how the best boards format their minutes.

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About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.