Get set for the year ahead: AGM planning

22 January 2020

January is the traditional time for us all to get organised and plan the year ahead. One of the most important events in the calendar for LOCs is the annual AGM, and many LOCs will be thinking about how to make a success of this year’s meeting. We caught up with Tees LOC to find out more about how they plan and prepare for this key event …

 

“You can have the best-run AGM in the world, but if no one attends then the whole thing is pointless!” Liz Hearn of Tees LOC is under no illusions about the importance of planning and publicising an attractive event that includes the LOC AGM.

Liz has been an active member of Tees LOC for 25 years, including a long stint as Secretary, where she took the lead in organising the AGM. She handed the Secretary role on to Iain Mellis three years ago and since then, the two have worked as a team to ensure that the AGM continues attracting a good cross-section of optical professionals.

Tees LOC recently undertook the LOCSU needs analysis exercise and has used this to re-examine the purpose of the AGM and what it should be delivering, as Liz explains: “It underlined the fact that the AGM is one of the ways we ensure we are accessible and accountable to the sector. It was useful to step back and take a look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.” Iain agrees: “The needs analysis helped us look at the structure of the LOC and better define our roles, which has been useful as we get into AGM planning.”

Iain explains how he and Liz approach the AGM: “We use the LOCSU guidance to make sure we’re providing the elements that we need to constitutionally, and then beyond that we add an interesting CET event and networking buffet to make the event appealing to attendees.”

Tees LOC’s 2020 AGM date was set a year in advance, which was an advantage in marketing the event: “I send out a quarterly e-newsletter and I’ve been able to include the date and details for the last two issues,” says Iain.

While Iain handles online communications, Liz likes to pick up the phone: “I’m quite happy to get on the phone and get people to come along,” she says. “I think it’s important that people make a personal connection with you – a bit of hand-holding breaks down barriers and makes them more likely to come along on the night.” Making attendees feel comfortable is one of Liz’s top tips for AGM success: “The venue needs to be easily accessible with good parking, clear signage, and someone to meet and greet people when they arrive.”

The AGM is a good opportunity to benchmark how effectively the LOC is engaging with different stakeholders in the optical sector, explains Liz: “There’s a myth that our activities are only relevant to practice owners, but everyone across the sector should be having influence on what we do, so we work hard to make sure we’ve good a good mix of attendees.”

Liz and Iain’s additional tips for planning a successful event include:

  • Make it attractive – lead with the CET event and networking opportunities and introduce the AGM off the back of that.
  • Avoid cliques – seat committee members one to each table so they can share context around LOC activities.
  • Make use of tools such as google forms to encourage people to register attendance – asking for dietary requirements is a good way to encourage people to commit!

Iain is also an advocate of using WhatsApp to support LOC activities in general and AGM planning in particular. “We set up a WhatsApp group about a year ago and it’s a great way to keep informal communications going between committee meetings. When you’re working together to deliver the event, it makes all the difference in staying on top of things.”

Iain, Liz and the Tees LOC team will be working hard over the next couple of months to continue publicising the AGM and encouraging attendees, to ensure that it is both well run and well-attended.

LOCSU can support LOCs with AGM planning, please see the guidance available on locsu.co.uk and contact your Optical Lead for further support.

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