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What To Do If The Power Goes Off At Your Shareholder Meeting… While The Fire Alarms Shriek Alarmingly

How’s this for a shareholder meeting horror-story to take to heart?

Ten minutes or so into the meeting a gigantic thunderstorm rolls through town, shutting off all the electric power while setting off loud, piercing shrieks from the hotel’s battery-backed fire alarm system.

And how’s this for what seems like a kicker? It was a Virtual-Only Meeting…so the feed from the site to the meeting attendees was instantly cut off: What to do????

This meeting actually had a great ending: Fortunately, the business part of the meeting was already over, the polls were closed so the voting was done. And Broadridge, as part of its standard Virtual Meeting protocol was able to post a notice on the website within minutes, saying that the meeting was suspended due to a storm, that the voting was already in, and would be reported on the company’s website, and that if any shareholders had questions, they could and should be directed to the company’s investor page. Just FYI, if there was a NEED to re-convene, the company would have been set to post the time for that as well.

So here are our top-tips on preparing for the unexpected:

  • First, remember that there are other types of emergencies where you might need to end the meeting at once: An actual fire, for example, or, heaven forbid, a meeting where some attendees get totally out of hand.
  • Accordingly, always make sure that the Chairman - and you - have an emergency script at hand that will let the Chairman very quickly end the meeting and very quickly clear the room, regardless of the circumstances.
  • Be sure to have brief and crystal clear instructions on how to exit in a quick, safe and orderly fashion - and make sure beforehand that you have staff who will know exactly what they need to do to assure this.
  • Always have a signed copy of the Ballot of the Appointed Proxies in hand - and in the hands of the Inspector of Election. We know that many company officers may not want to sign a blank ballot - so be sure that it says, “Vote in accordance with the proxies on file.” The Inspector can fill in the numbers afterwards, or simply attach a copy of the Final Report and hand print “see attached” - but this assures that the votes in hand were cast and seals the deal.