60 Seconds with Sixpoint: The AGM in a Post-COVID World: Part II
We recently completed the Fall AGM season and the second round of annual meetings to be held virtually due to the pandemic. The new digital format is taking hold as an accepted, if not preferred, method among some sponsors and LPs alike. Below are some key learnings and best practices to consider as we look ahead to 2021 and future AGMs in a Covid or post-Covid period:
1. Virtual AGMs can be live or recorded: Each have their benefits but in both scenarios it’s critical to incorporate an interactive Q&A session beyond the Advisory Board sessions. Giving your LPs the ability to directly ask questions demonstrates a level of confidence in your story and commitment to transparency.
2. Demand flawless execution: It’s almost commonplace for a virtual call during Covid to include a barking dog, a crying baby or a technical snafu! Avoid all three. We have seen numerous AGMs deal with technology issues during the handoff between speakers. Sometimes it is the camera angles that are problematic, other times it is the audio. In prior years, the live AGMs LPs had become accustomed to were carefully choreographed productions. It’s important to manage the digital formats with equal care. There are production specialists you can hire at a reasonable cost who will ensure that you use the optimal technology platform and that the process runs smoothly. Taped rehearsals can minimize any missteps during the final run.
3. Have a mission moment: The virtual format makes it difficult to truly connect with your audience and even more difficult to personalize and humanize you and your team. When an LP leaves your AGM, they should walk away understanding what’s a typical “GP Deal” and with a sense of your team’s persona. We have seen some GPs implement an intermission during which the broader team is introduced to the audience in a variety of live or recorded formats. Other sponsors have provided light hearted moments by highlighting key team members or portfolio company CEOs. You want to leave LPs with a good feeling about you and your AGM can be the tool to separate yourself from the pack.
5. It’s about the relationship: Ultimately, there is no substitute for live communication. Whether you determine to host a live or recorded virtual meeting in the future, be sure to craft other means of engagement with key existing and prospective LPs. Historically, the AGM was the marquis annual event for you to interact with LPs in your network. The virtual and hybrid environment going forward, however, means that you can foster multiple touchpoints with your LPs utilizing many of the same technology platforms. Consider quarterly “earnings calls” or “GP update forums” for smaller cohorts of LPs to provide intimate and informative means of engagement.
In the long run, the AGM will become one part in a larger portfolio of opportunities to engage investors. Done right, LPs will come away from the meeting feeling less managed and more like partners.