How to Conduct "All-Hands" Meetings and Why They Are So Important

"All-hands" meetings are regular gatherings of the entire team intended to discuss company matters. They are extremely valuable for any organization, regardless of its size or age. When properly conducted, they have the potential to increase transparency and alignment, which translates into the strength and success of the company.

What are "All-Hands" Meetings?

"All-hands" meetings are regular gatherings of the entire team where company matters are discussed. The main objectives of an all-hands meeting are to:

  • Share business updates from the past month, quarter, year, season, etc.
  • Foster alignment around the company's mission and strategy
  • Celebrate company milestones and recognize the individuals who made them possible
  • Give everyone in the company a chance to ask questions and clarify any concerns

Why are "All-Hands" Meetings Valuable?

"All-hands" meetings have the potential to bring your teams together in an incredibly valuable way. They provide perspective on the state of the business at team and department levels, and can highlight the importance of every employee's contribution and effort towards company goals. Here are several key benefits to holding regular all-hands meetings for your organization:

  1. Keeps your team updated and improves alignment. "All-hands" meetings are one of the best opportunities you have to ensure all your team members are on the same page about everything business-related. This goes beyond simply sharing organizational and people updates, which can be done in much less expensive ways. By emphasizing company mission, strategy, and objectives, all-hands meetings provide you with the chance to accurately align your employees on the company goals, pointing them in the right direction and ensuring success down the line.

  2. Celebrates people and uplifts team spirit and morale. Company achievements cannot exist without consistent efforts from the people involved. Celebrating your team members' successes and recognizing their hard work is just as important as keeping them in the loop on business updates. Especially when your employees are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, one of the best ways to boost their morale is to review the highlights of their efforts and give shout-outs to the individuals who helped achieve them.

  3. Gives a voice to everyone. An all-hands meeting is one of the best places to generate a forum for employee questions, and address employee concerns from every corner. Holding an open Q&A with leadership may be useful in helping you uncover the most hot-topic issues in the organization, encouraging workplace transparency. A good rule of thumb is to allow for at least 20% of your all-hands meeting time to be dedicated to Q&A.

  4. Fosters a healthy company culture. All-hands meetings are one of the best places not only to show your company culture, but to grow it as well. Demonstrating and strengthening your company culture by involving the people that the meeting is first and foremost about is critical. Let them contribute to the agenda and co-create the program and run activities where attendees enjoy themselves. After all, all-hands meetings are for your employees, so give them good reason to be excited about being there in the first place.

  5. Connects remote teams and workers with executives. While imagining company-wide in-person gatherings is difficult right now, understanding the value of connectivity that they present is just as important as ever. All-hands meetings are a unique chance to connect your remote workers with headquarters, and truly make them feel part of the company and the organizational community as a whole.

How to Hold Regular "All-Hands" Meetings Remotely?

Many companies are likely facing the need to shift all their in-person events online for the foreseeable future, and possibly indefinitely. However, keep in mind that running an all-hands meeting in a virtual space can still have as much impact as if you were sitting in the same room together. The key is smoothing out all the wrinkles beforehand. Here are the three general stages to holding your regular all-hands meetings virtually:

  1. Tech Setup. The first step is choosing a reliable video conferencing tool. Nothing works better than LiveWebinar! If you plan on presenting slides, ensure they run seamlessly on the platform, and test out any interactive features such as running live polls and Q&As beforehand.

  2. Preparation Phase. Like you would for an in-person all-hands meeting, the next stage is to assign specific roles to members of your team. There should be multiple speakers present at the meeting, as switching speakers helps break monotony and brings in multiple perspectives from different corners of your organization. Introducing a moderator can also be useful, which means having them greet your teammates as they join the call, deliver a kick-off speech, and keep an eye on the agenda. Especially for online interactive activities, assigning someone the role of discussion facilitator to field incoming questions and steer the discussion according to employee input can help keep the Q&A sessions running as smoothly as possible.

  3. Delivering Content and Facilitating Interaction. A strong start to your virtual all-hands meeting will set the tone for the rest of the meeting, so make sure your introduction is as punchy as engaging as possible. Have your moderator welcome attendees and dedicate the first few minutes to ideally an icebreaker that can include all. Remote workers across the country are all facing challenges of loneliness and isolation, so spending some time to socialize before the meeting starts can help put your employees at ease. In addition, encourage your colleagues to turn on their cameras for the meeting. It is likely that many of their virtual calls and meetings have been voice-only, but having employee faces on screen can make the virtual all-hands meeting feel much more personal and interactive.

In Summary

Regularly running all-hands meetings can be the key to strengthening your business. Now that you know how to optimize your meetings and yield the most successful results from them, all that's left to do is get all hands-on deck and start planning for your next one.

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