Is it time to rethink the AGM?

Something for businesses to consider as AGM season nears the end of the reporting season for 2023.

Annual Report, ASX, Budget, Conference, Diggers & Dealers

Gerard 12 Oct 2023
3 mins

As Notices of Meeting hit the ASX and signal AGM season, many report-fatigued corporates eyeing the end of a frantic reporting season – bookended by June and September quarterlies and punctuated with full-year results, annual reports and accompanying presentations, ASX releases and webinars (and don’t forget Diggers and Dealers) – could be forgiven for treating the annual shareholder catch-up as a costly box-ticking exercise.

For the ‘mum and dad’ investors putting their own hard-earned into companies, the AGM may be their only opportunity to speak to, and ask questions of, the people who they have entrusted with their investments.

And with the market bears forecasting entrenched macro-economic headwinds, no quick easing of inflationary pressures and a looming economic downturn, articulating a clear path forward is more important than ever.

So why not use the AGM as an opportunity to engage, provide context and set the tone for the year ahead?

Worth a recap:

Edward Hodnett, in The Art of Problem Solving, famously said, “If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers”. In that spirit, Investor Insight has put together a checklist to help prepare for the AGM.

Think of the AGM as an event with two parts – the mundane formalities followed by an engaging update to shareholders on the company’s year and the future outlook.

The three prongs of a successful company update

  • A clearly communicated corporate narrative
  • A well-prepared presentation
  • Delivered with confidence and empathy

The corporate narrative is not ‘spin’

The corporate narrative is the articulation of a company’s plan to deliver shareholder value. Getting it right is important, but not always easy.

  • What are your short-term goals?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • How will you achieve these?
  • What is your timeframe for achievement?
  • What is in your control?
  • What is outside of your control?
  • How do you communicate success when the share price doesn’t want to budge?
  • How do you communicate success when things happen that are outside of your control?

How you package up the corporate narrative matters

A strong presentation is a showcase of a company’s strengths, wins and milestones and an address of its concerns, potential roadblocks to success and macro themes.

  • Does it articulate the corporate narrative?
  • Does it communicate the value proposition?
  • Does it speak to the chairman’s address?
  • Does each slide serve a purpose?
  • What information is included and why?
  • What information is excluded and why?
  • How does it address roadblocks and macro themes?
  • Is it structured to suit the chairman’s and MD/CEO’s presentation style?
  • Are the slides in order?
  • Is it on-brand?

The three P’s of public speaking are practice, practice, practice

A confident, reassuring, empathetic and engaging voice delivers clearly defined goals and the path to achieve them while also addressing operational and market concerns. So get practicing.

  • Who is your audience?
  • Retail shareholders do not necessarily have the same level of expertise and understanding as their institutional counterparts. Will they understand your presentation?
  • If you were a long-term shareholder, what would you expect?
  • If you were a disgruntled shareholder, what would you think?
  • How would you improve your delivery from their point of view?
  • How can you promote curiosity from the floor?
  • What questions do you anticipate, and how can you weave the answers into your presentation?
  • How else can your delivery add value?
  • How will you answer difficult questions?
  • Have you allocated enough time to prepare?

The logistics matter, too

The best-prepared presentation can come unstuck by something as innocuous as a damaged cord, a corrupted file, or poor wifi.

  • How accessible is the AGM meeting venue – is it easy to find, is nearby parking available and does it cater for shareholders with accessibility challenges?
  • Are there enough seats, is the lighting appropriate and the sound quality good?
  • Does the webcasting service work?
  • Do microphones and cameras work?
  • Has the system been double and triple-checked?
  • Is tech support on hand to help if things go pear-shaped?

Finally, remember your AGM may be just one of many that the individual shareholder attends. Stick around and make introductions, or reacquaintances, with the people whose investments you are held responsible for. And do not underestimate the endearing power of fresh pastries and good coffee.

Article written on Investor Insight.

Investor Insight, powered by Purple, is a multi-channel investor relations platform providing investors and media access to and insight into some of Australia’s most exciting listed and non-listed companies – across the mining, critical minerals, energy, technology and agribusiness sectors.

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