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Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron attracts triple the expected attendance at inaugural online AGM

Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron attracts triple the expected attendance at inaugural online AGM
September 17, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, for the first time in its 144-year history, St Kilda-based Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RYMS) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) via video conference last month, and also conducted its annual committee elections for the first time via online voting.

Significantly, the club had triple the normal attendance numbers to their AGM, and more than half of all RMYS members participated in the ballot, which was also much higher than the normal voter turnout.

This impressive response sets a positive example for other clubs and sporting associations to show how they can overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and still hold meetings and elections, and engage with their members.

While the sudden transition to online was forced on RMYS through necessity, it has really opened the yacht club’s eyes to the possibilities of video conferencing and extending its connections and engagement with its members.

RYMS General Manager, Matt Solly advised “as part of our legal requirements, we have to hold an AGM and elections for our committee every year, and our 2020 meeting couldn’t be delayed any longer.

“We realised it would be too difficult to manage participants on a normal video conference, and many of our members are an older demographic and less familiar with technology – so we knew we could be in for a challenge to put it all together.”

RMYS decided to use RingCentral Webinar, which would enable RMYS’s AGM conveners to control the proceedings while still giving RMYS members the opportunity to contribute and participate actively during the session.

RingCentral Webinar gives the host and facilitator powerful control over the audio options, chat, content sharing, and participant management, features that are not available in standard video conferencing platforms.

The club prepared for the webinar with a couple of practice runs for the facilitator and panellists (including the RMYS Treasurer, General Manager and the AGM’s chair), with the webinar link and instructions sent to all members via email and posted to the members only online portal.

On the day (Saturday, 8th August), 150 members logged in and participated in the AGM, which was triple the number that typically attend these meetings. Solly described it as an “extraordinary turnout”.

In addition to the normal proceedings, RMYS also virtually presented Peter (PJ) Davison with an Honorary Life Membership for his outstanding contribution to RMYS over more than 45 years, and David Allen with his 50 year membership badge which had been delivered to his home. Both men had the opportunity to speak about their passion for the club and sailing during the webinar. The AGM was also recorded, providing the club with a permanent digital record of the event.

The experience attendees for the webinar, which ran for nearly two hours, was clear and easy to follow, and feedback from the members was universally positive.

With thanks to Martin Aungle, Explore Communications Pty Ltd

Image courtesy of Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron 

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