The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Hosting an Online AGM

This document contains everything you need to know for running an online AGM for your student group. Parts of this guide are written for you to amend and send out to your membership, so as to give them some guidance on attending the AGM, and you some guidance on running it.

This will probably be the first time your group has run a large online meeting, so bear in mind there will almost certainly be issues along the way. Try to keep an open mind, keep things flexible and above all else, fair to your members.

A massive thank you to UoB Lifesaving Club who helped write this document.

Any questions – bristolsu-development@bristol.ac.uk 

Committee Roles

A good place to start is to establish and list what roles are up for election and the responsibilities of each role. You could either copy-and-paste from your constitution, or ask each person currently doing the role to submit something.

List these roles (and their descriptions) on your social media and email out to all your members. It’s good to do this well in advance of the AGM, a couple of weeks is ideal.

Nominations

How you receive nominations for committee roles is entirely up to you and all groups do it a little differently. I’ve outlined some options below:

  1. Ask for all nominations to be sent in before your AGM. This is a good option if you want to have all information / documents ready before the actual event. You can collate candidate’s information and statements, send out to your membership and they can form an opinion before the AGM starts. This will make your AGM go quicker and be less ‘off the cuff’. The disadvantage is members wouldn’t have the option to go for a position on the night. This may be particularly detrimental to those who don’t get voted into one position, but still want to be on committee in another role.
  2. Take nominations live. You’d need to be pretty organised for this, but it can make for an exciting and unpredictable AGM! You can leave nominations open for all roles, and have members put themselves forward at the AGM. If you decide to do this, our advice would be to have a time limit (say 2 minutes) on how long they can speak for, along with a dedicated committee member to manage the back-end (more on this process later).
  3. Middle Ground? Of course you could opt for a combination of the two, which many student groups do. Offer space for the keen beans to send their nominations in early, but have 3 some room in the AGM for on-the-night nominations too. You can still have live speeches and it also allows for those who don’t get their first committee role to still get on committee.

Nominations could be received via a Microsoft Form or just over email. It’s a good idea to ask candidates to include a photo with their nomination so members know who they are. Candidates can be advertised before your AGM. This could be via a dedicated facebook event page, a shared document or separate posts on your socials.

Date, Time and Location

Advertise to members the date and time of your AGM. Remember – as a democratic event all members should have the opportunity to attend, stand for any committee position and vote. Your constitution may have some guidance as to how far in advance you need to advertise, so do check this first.

We recommended using Skype for Business to host your online AGM. This platform is reliable, safe and all students should have access to it. There are alternative platforms like Zoom, but due to the 40min time out we find it’s not great for longer meetings.

Suggested comms out to members:

The AGM will be conducted on _____________ at a start time of ______

The meeting will be held using the Skype For Business programme that all students have been given access to by the University to aid online learning. Search ‘Skype for Business’ on the University webpage and you’ll find full instructions for downloading.

Please make sure you download and set up Skype for Business prior to the AGM so we can help if there are any issues!

To log in you will need to use your university email address (xy12345@bristol.ac.uk) and password, not a personal one or one that you already use for a skype account. Logging in can be a bit slow so please just be patient. Please log in 5 or so minutes before the scheduled start time so that we can get started promptly.

 

Advice for Skype Meetings

It is good practice to decide before the meeting who in your committee is doing what.

We would suggest the following roles:

  1. President / Club Captain
    • Chairs the meeting
    • Asks people to speak / unmute mic
  2. Secretary
    • Monitors chat screen
    • Monitors attendees
    • Assists with any tech issues
  3. Minute-Taker
    • Solely responsible for taking minutes of the meeting
  4. Teller
    • Manages the voting system back-end
    • Ensures voting is fair

It’s a good idea to set etiquette rules for your meeting before it starts. That way all attendees know who should be speaking when and what to expect from the meeting.

We would strongly recommend you get your committee together and test this out the night before, just so everyone is really clear on their role and can sort out any tech issues without holding up the meeting.

Suggested comms out to members:

Use your laptop connected to a good WiFi network. A laptop is much more preferable than a phone as it makes it much easier to see and allow you to access the chat feature.

If you are not speaking please mute your microphone. This can be done by pressing the big microphone button at the bottom of your screen. This makes it much easier to hear the person who is speaking and makes it fair to everyone. (Remember to turn it back on when you start speaking!)

If you wish to comment or ask a question please make use of the chat feature, the Secretary will be monitoring this throughout the meeting so please just comment that you have a question or point to make. The chair of the meeting will then indicate to you to unmute your mic and state your point or question. Please try and make it very clear when you have stopped speaking.

If you drop out of the call for any reason either intentionally or accidentally please let the secretary know and we can add you back in when you’re ready. The same applies for any technical issues you may be having. When you re-enter the call please do so quietly so as not to disturb whatever is being said at the time.

Screensharing is a really useful feature you should get to grips with too. It could be a good way to highlight new parts of your constitution, graphs, images etc Think about what you would be wanting to show your members on a screen or in a PowerPoint presentation if this were ‘in person’ and go from there!

Order of Business

  • The Agenda for the meeting should be sent out to members in advance and detail the running order for the elections as well as any proposed changes to your constitution. An example agenda is included at the end of this guide.
  • The meeting should start with brief reports from each of the outgoing committee members summarising the year and detailing the position the group is in currently, including a financial report from the treasurer.
  • Then all members should vote for or against any proposed changes to the constitution.
  • Then any other votes should take place eg increasing membership fees for the next academic year
  • After this is complete the elections of the new committee should be held.
  • Once the new committee has been elected the meeting will conclude after discussion of any other business raised by members present.

Elections

How you run the actual elections bit is usually referred to in your constitution and all groups do it a little differently. It will also depend on how you have decided to run nominations. Again, doublecheck your constitution before deciding on a method. We’ve outlined some options on how to do this online:

Candidates leave the Skype Call

All candidates running for the role will declare themselves to the outgoing Captain (depending on how you have run nominations, you may already know who is running, or you may ask for there and then)

The candidates running for the election will be removed from the call by the outgoing captain / president. They may not remain in contact with anyone still present in the meeting.

The candidates will be individually added back into the call, they will have 2 minutes to present the reasons why they should be elected, they will then receive up to 3 questions from the outgoing committee and members present. Priority of questions will go to the outgoing committee member that has held that role. Once they have presented and answered their questions they will once again be removed from the call. The other candidates will be given their turn.

After all candidates have been heard, the members remaining in the call will vote to elect the role.

Once the secretary has received and counted the votes the candidates will be added back into the chat and the result announced. Once elected candidates are not eligible to stand for any other positions.

Please note this method can take a long time and is generally quite clunky. If this is similar to what you would do at an in-person AGM, perhaps now is the time to change things up a bit?

Candidates stay on the Skype Call

As above, but all candidates remain in the ‘room’ and can hear each other speeches / questions.

Prepared statements are read out / straight to questions

You may have asked for all and only nominations to be submitted before the AGM and shared statements with your members. In this case you may wish to skip candidate speeches (and save some time) and go straight to any questions.

We would advise all candidates to have a text version of what they want to say to hand, which they can share in the chat, or by circulation if needed. Anticipate the internet connection won’t be perfect for everyone, and there could be drop-outs, mishearings etc. so a backup may be needed.

Voting

Your constitution will state how votes are counted – usually First Past the Post or Single Transferrable Vote. Some options for receiving votes as below:

  1. Using Microsoft Forms UoB Cycling Club found success doing it this way: “Votes were managed through Microsoft Forms which is available through the Uni’s Office subscription. It was set up so you had to log on with an institution (@bristol.ac.uk) address and could only vote once. Whilst speeches were happening, I had a committee member set a new form up for each role and send a link out in the Skype chat and simultaneously on the Facebook event. Once everyone had voted he could share his screen and show a pie chart of the results. We had one person solely dedicated to the voting aspect and our secretary was not involved with this, which I think was sensible”
  2. Using a voting app You might decide to use a voting app to record votes. The advantages of this are that members can use their phones to record votes, whilst still being able to listen to what is going on in the Skype call. The committee member managing this will usually be able to show results quickly via a screenshare. Various voting apps exist:
    1. VoxVote Offering a free service to students during the coronavirus crisis
    2. MyVote Is a web-based app that can be used across platforms and does not require a sign-in
  3. Using the chat screen It might be you just want to get this done quickly, in which case using the chat screen within Skype might be an option. Check your constitution allows this (some state ballots must be held in secret) and as long as your members don’t mind the open voting aspect, you could simply ask them to state who they want to vote for in the chat. These votes would then be counted by the teller / secretary and reported to the chair.

Once voting is complete, check everyone is happy and welcome in your new committee!

Don’t forget, you should post results of your elections and minutes of your AGM out to your whole membership

Example Agenda

The Agenda for the 2019/20 Annual General Meeting held at 8pm on Tuesday 24th March.

  1. Welcome and Apologies
  2. Committee Reports
    Reports from the outgoing committee will be heard in the following order;
    • Club Captain
    • Vice-Captain
    • Treasurer
    • Secretary
    • Equality and Diversity Officer
    • Social Secretary
    • Training Officers
    • Competition Secretary (Home and Away)
  3. Proposed changes to constitution
    • Proposal to include ‘Home Competition Secretary’ as an elected committee position.
    • Proposal to allow the individual running the league competition held at Bristol to be elected by members. Once elected the individual may sit on the committee the following year for as long as they would like.
    • This allows the opportunity for members to get a say in who runs the competition when there are multiple parties interested. Proposer:
  4. Election of new committee
    The elections of the new committee will be conducted in the following order;
    • Club Captain
    • Vice Captain
    • Training Officer(s)
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Social Secretary
    • Competition Secretary
  5. AOB
  6. Constitution
    • Not all members will have seen your constitution, or even be aware you have one. It’s good practice to send this out with the agenda / any other items before the meeting so everyone can view.