When the Control Measures for holding MCST AGMs were first announced, Singapore was still in Phase 2 with strict limits on the number of people able to meet in person. As a result, most AGMs in 2020 were held virtually over a video-conferencing platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
We have since entered Phase 3, but most MCSTs are still looking at holding a virtual AGM to accommodate everyone. Even the smaller estates continue to prefer virtual AGMs as they lack a suitably large venue that meets safe distancing requirements.
Managing agents and Council members are very familiar with the requirements of running an AGM. However, running an AGM virtually present some unique challenges. In this article, we share our experience, from having supported close to 50 virtual AGMs, on how to ensure everything goes smoothly when preparing to run a virtual AGM.
What is the main difference between a virtual versus a physical AGM?
Choosing to run a virtual AGM may impact timelines and the type of preparation work to be done. More decision-making needs to be done early on. You will need to decide on a software platform or at the very least whether to use Zoom or Teams. SPs will also need to be pre-registered with their email address as the Control Measures allow for notices to be sent by email. You may like to use this handy checklist below:
- Appoint software platform for e-meeting and e-voting
- Registration drive to get SPs to nominate an email address for receiving notices
- Prepare strata title data and upload to the platform
- Create motions for voting on the e-meeting platform
- Links to be shared with SPs together with AGM documents:
- Zoom/Teams meeting conference link
- Online proxy form (if any)
- Online letter of authorisation form (if any)
- Finalise AGM documents as a Powerpoint file and upload to e-meeting platform
- Put up notices to remind SPs of meeting details include meeting conference link
- Approve online proxy and LOA forms
- Remind SPs to login to the e-meeting platform and familiarise themselves with the e-voting interface
Keys to running a successful virtual AGM
Image via Straits Times (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)
1. Set meeting house rules and enforce them strictly
This simple but often overlooked step is probably the most important determinant of whether the AGM proceeds smoothly. Before starting the AGM, the meeting facilitator should state meeting rules such as:
- SPs to rename themselves on Zoom call with Unit No, Name
- Whether SPs allowed to address the house and whether by email only, chat or audio
- When during the discussion are SPs allowed to address the house; for example, after the meeting facilitator has tabled a motion for voting.
- How many times are SPs allowed to address the house for each motion
- What are the consequences if house rules are not adhered to; for example, put back into Waiting Room for 10 minutes or ejected from the meeting conference
2. Having clear meeting SOPs
- Appoint one person to manage the polls, one person to monitor the conference chat for comments, and one person to note down Council member nominations and other points for action
- Ensure technical support team has clear SOPs on managing users experiencing difficulties
- Ask the technical support team on issues that have arisen in the past and how they have dealt with them
3. Setting up early
- It helps to get set up early with sound and camera tests done at least 30 minutes before the meeting starts.
- If MA is to be physically present with Council Office-bearers, a bit more planning needs to be done with sufficient laptops for hosting the Zoom/Teams conference, for polling, and for the meeting facilitator and Office-bearers to host the meeting.
Image via Straits Times (Photo: Facebook/Saktiandi Supaat)
4. Appearance Matters
- Posting the AGM virtually places an even greater emphasis on presenting a credible and professional image. Not being physically present means that SPs are forming their impressions based on your image and audio in the video conference. Practice speaking into the camera and ensure there is sufficient lighting and the video feed at least shows you from your shoulders up.
Virtual, Physical, or Hybrid
Holding a virtual meeting and talking into a camera can be unnerving for some people. As social beings, we are used to meeting physically and reading non-verbal cues to see how others are reacting to our spoken words. Meeting organisers may want to encourage participants to switch on their cameras or run a hybrid meeting with some participants present in a socially distanced setting.
Whatever your preferred mode, one thing which is clear is that nobody wants to go back to counting physical ballots. It costs time and money to print and prepare paper ballots and greatly disrupts the AGM when you consider the time required for ballot counting.
Choosing the right e-voting platform
Electronic voting on the Qommunity app by Qornerstone Estate is far more efficient, safe, and robust. It is a proven and complete e-voting platform having been using for commercial MCSTs like Jurong Point 2, Thomson Plaza, and others, as well as numerous residential MCSTs.
Results are available instantaneously and SPs enjoy the convenience and usability of voting in-app, while proxies and LOA appointees are also catered for.
- Electronically protected ballots
- Audit logs and voting records
- Voting by share values or show of hands
- Web portal to host AGM presentation and voting results
- Zoom conference link provided (separate app)
For more information or to book a 30-minute demo by Zoom, please use this link