From time to time, in the fast-paced environment of many organizations, teams need to gather and hear from their leadership teams about big news, exciting announcements, shifts in strategy, or celebrate milestones. Usually called an all-hands meeting, these types of meetings occur at least once a year and involve everyone associated with the company. When properly planned and executed, these meetings can be a highly effective way to generate internal excitement among your employees and align efforts for long-term success.
Why is it called an all-hands meeting?
The main purpose of an all-hands meeting agenda is to gather every employee in an organization to share important announcements, celebrate milestones, realign on the company vision, provide progress on organizational goals, and provide clarity and transparency to news and strategic planning. Depending on the size and structure of the organization, this may take place as frequently as every week, or only once a year.
Be sure to include messages from top leaders in key areas of the organization like finance, product, HR, customer success, marketing, sales, and development. Each of these departments should be aligned to the overall vision, and individual employees want to hear from and cheer for their team. For others at a certain level of the organization, knowing what others are working on can help inform better decision-making in the short-to-mid-term.
How do you make all hands meeting interesting?
Organizations who hold all-hands meetings spend great time and energy to create an engaging all hands experience that generates excitement and inspiration while also building company culture.
Build hype. Make it a full event with branded content, slides, swag, and extras. Employees will enjoy a conference-like atmosphere that energizes and encourages the organization for the coming period. If possible, consider holding your all-hands meeting in an exotic locale. A well-organized trip can build excitement before and maintain lasting intrigue well after. Employees who join your organization will hear from others who have been to all-hands events before about how fun and engaging it was, and look forward to their first.
Include Q&A with new leaders or a panel of customers. Invite board members for a fireside chat or a customer for an interview. Allow your employees to listen from new voices to gain a deeper understanding or raise awareness of how their work is impacting others.
Build in a contest with teams of employees that don’t usually work together. Small projects can help to build teamwork. Task each group with a deliverable like a 60-second commercial for a new product or feature, or maybe they need to design a cereal box describing your target user.
Highlight big wins and celebrate individuals. Include a runthrough of new team members, work anniversary milestones. These highlights elevate top performers in your organization and help reinforce expectations.
How to hold a virtual all hands meeting
For fully-remote teams, there exists unique challenges when holding a virtual all hands meeting. While the agenda of the all-hands meeting is largely similar, the medium and format of the delivery takes some adjusting. Consider some of these common obstacles.
Solidify your video conferencing needs. Allow for every team member to participate with their camera on. Test out your set up several times to ensure your team can manage the group as everyone joins the event. Make sure you set rules around muting non-speakers and providing digital access to Q&A sections. A well-managed live chat can be a great way to encourage celebration and interest in talks and presentations.
Similarly, tools like Zoom provide solutions like breakout rooms for smaller discussion groups. Consider how you can best utilize these to create an inclusive environment for every member of the organization.
Polish your presentations and include a balance of pre-recorded videos with live speeches. Mix up the format and include opportunities for audience participation whenever possible.
Finally, ask for feedback often. After every session, ask employees to rate the section on the clarity, and helpfulness of the topic. This will help give you an understanding of what you may need to reinforce later with additional information.