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What Is an All-Hands Meeting and How Should You Run Yours?

Effective communication is at the heart of any company with a strong, collaborative culture. One impactful way to communicate with all staff members at once is to host regularly scheduled all-hands meetings. But what is an all-hands meeting, and how can you run one successfully?

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What is an all-hands meeting?

An all-hands meeting is a gathering including every member of the company, from department heads to interns. The central goal of an all-hands meeting is to ensure that all company stakeholders are on the same page about the company’s mission and plans for the future.

How to host all-hands meetings

All-hands meetings can be held in-person, virtually or in a hybrid capacity, meaning that some attendees will appear in person, while others attend virtually.

It can be helpful to hold all-hands meetings regularly, such as quarterly or monthly, so that employees get used to the cadence and know when to expect the meeting. This regularity provides a sense of stability and shows that you’re committed to having regular, open communication with all team members.

Make sure to set an agenda for the all-hands meeting well in advance of the meeting’s scheduled date, so that you have apt time to prepare presentations, guest speakers or other components you’d like to include.

It’s also helpful to decide ahead of time if you will require virtual attendees to have cameras on, and if they will be expected to participate via audio or by writing in a chat feature. Include these details in the meeting invitation so that expectations are clear for all team members before they join.

If there is a virtual component to your all-hands meeting, be sure to work out any technological kinks ahead of time. If possible, designate a staff member to provide support for virtual employees. Make sure that visuals or videos are ready to present virtually. For example, ensure the audio is working and that closed-captioning is included if needed.

Introduce new team members

All-hands meetings are great opportunities to introduce new team members to the rest of the company. Decide whether you’ll give a brief introduction of the employee, or if you’d like them to introduce themselves. Either way, let the new staff members know ahead of time that there will be an introduction.

If you prefer new team members to introduce themselves, give them a few questions to think about ahead of time. Examples include:

  • Where did you work before, and why did you decide to join [company name]?
  • What is your new role here at [company name]?
  • What’s one fun fact about yourself?
  • Where are you based?
  • What’s your current favorite TV show/book/podcast?

Introducing new team members is a great way to kick off an all-hands meeting, as it can help set a welcoming and forward-thinking tone.

Celebrate company wins

Another suggested agenda item for your next all-hands meeting is to take a few minutes to congratulate teams for the positive impacts they have had on the business. You could also use this time to call-out work anniversaries.

Showing appreciation for your team members and the efforts they put in can help to boost morale and encourage more positive behaviors from your teams in the future. Recognition of employees’ efforts is also a great way to boost retention, innovation and productivity.

Provide important updates

All-hands meetings are also your chance to broadcast important company news to all staff members at once.

Many companies use all-hands meetings as opportunities to provide more excitement around sales numbers and other business updates. Sharing concrete numbers helps employees who may not be as involved in the financial aspect of the business feel included. Sharing this information also helps everyone have an understanding of how the business is doing and where it is headed.

You might also use an all-hands meeting as a chance to provide updates about employee benefits or other human resources-related topics. For example, are there paid days off coming up for the company? Have any policies recently changed, or will they be changing in the near future? Share important news during the meeting, and provide follow-up documentation after the meeting as needed (i.e., in an all-company email).

All-hands meetings are also an apt time to announce organizational changes, such as if reporting structures are shifting, or if business leaders have left or are leaving the company.

Encourage widespread participation

All-hands meetings may include presentations from various team members. When planning your all-hands meeting agenda, consider scheduling time to have representatives from all corners of the business speak.

Department heads can share what their team is working on, as well as their top priorities, successes, or challenges, which can give other teams insight into how the rest of the company is functioning. This kind of open communication may also unlock solutions from other staff that can benefit the organization as a whole.

Further, when determining which speakers will be slated for your all-hands meeting agenda, be mindful of diversity and inclusion. Do your best to encourage representation from a mix of demographics.

The name “all-hands meeting” implies that everyone in the company’s work and opinion matters, so sharing the spotlight with a variety of team members is ideal.

Share the company’s current goals

All-hands meetings can also serve as important checkpoints where you communicate future plans for the company.

Plans can refer to anything from major marketing initiatives that are coming up, concrete business goals that you are counting on the team to achieve, or cultural changes that you would like to initiate at the company.

Leave time for questions

Toward the end of an all-hands meeting, it’s common to schedule time for a question and answer session with the attendees. This encourages an open dialogue between leadership and the rest of the employees. It also shows that you want every team member to have the opportunity to be heard.

In order to help a Q&A session run smoothly, you might ask everyone to send in questions ahead of the meeting or send them in via a chat function during a virtual meeting. A designated person can aggregate the inquiries so they can be answered efficiently.

If you don’t have an answer ready for all questions, take note of what those questions are, and do your best to find the correct answer and follow up. This kind of accountability may help you earn more trust with the members of your team.

Get input for the next all-hands meeting

After your all-hands meeting concludes, it can be helpful to solicit feedback from the attendees. This will allow you to have a sense of what went well and what you can do to improve the next meeting.

A simple way to garner this feedback is to prepare a survey and email it out to all staff members immediately following the meeting.

Consider making the survey anonymous in order to elicit the most honest feedback possible.

After you receive survey responses, carefully review them and take note of any widespread opinions. Take some time to absorb the feedback and then see how you can thoughtfully implement it as you plan for your next all-hands meeting.

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