How to create an all hands meeting

A Guide to Creating an All-Hands Meeting

All-hands meetings don't have to be boring- learn how to create one that’s full of valuable information and worthwhile for your whole team.
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October 3, 2022

Motivated by the idea of being inclusive, collaborative and having “all hands on deck,” an “all hands meeting” allows many colleagues to come together to share important information amongst one another. Typically the topics that are discussed in this type of meeting format are company goals, announcements, wins, challenges and answering any related questions. 

What Is An All Hands Meeting?

All hands meetings are where the majority of the company comes together to hear about values, updates and future plans from the company superiors. Usually, all hands meetings are hosted on a quarterly or annual basis but depending on the information that needs to be shared, it can also be hosted monthly. Lastly, depending on the goal, all hands meetings can be structured with interactive additions, like breakout sessions for discussions. 

Why Host an All Hands Meeting?

Hosting an all hands meeting is highly recommended because it allows employees to feel informed, connected and enthusiastic about the evolution of the company. Employees may seem to receive and embrace this type of meeting because it reflects how the company cares about their feedback and well being. All hands meetings may be more suitable than an average meeting because it is structured to be casual and interactive rather than serious and informative. 

The all hands meeting is the perfect opportunity to enhance the culture and environment for you and your employees. This is the time to express gratitude, acknowledge someone’s productive work ethic or hear out any constructive feedback. This exercise can be done anonymously or in front of one another. 

1. Transparency 

An all hands meeting is an appropriate time for you to be completely direct and transparent with your staff. This is also an opportunity for everyone to feel included and establish trust which can then lead to an even more efficient work environment. 

Although it may not be easy to discuss, you’ll also want to touch base on projects that weren’t successfully implemented.  Discussions like this can help establish a “growth mindset-oriented” environment which can then inspire internal improvements.

2. Cohesiveness

Depending on the size of your company, it may be difficult for everyone to connect and become familiar with one another. Fortunately for an all hands meeting, you will be able to update your team on everyone’s roles, initiatives and responsibilities which can establish alignment and cohesiveness within the company. 

3. Enhance the Company's Culture 

Structuring your all hands meeting around the company’s values can be beneficial because it can help sustain the growth of the brand.  By obtaining visible and open leadership throughout the meeting, you are demonstrating a commitment to accountability, communication and enhancing the company’s culture. 

4. Acknowledge Accomplishments

Pretty much anyone can appreciate when their hard work is acknowledged. Celebrating your employee’s great work ethic can be rewarding and motivating for them to continue to keep up the good work. 

5. Company Inclusion

Overall, one of the main purposes of an all hands meeting is to increase company inclusion and inspiration. Having everyone from your staff come together for company culture, goals and successes is a great way to have a universal understanding and establish an efficient work environment.

What is an all hands meeting?

How to Host an All Hands Meeting in 14 Steps

Learn 14 tips on how you can properly prepare and host an all-hands meeting.

1. Create a Thorough Agenda

Making a clear, detailed all hands meeting agenda can help the planning process run much more smoothly. Information the meeting agenda should include are meeting times, the duration time of each meeting session, the topics that will be discussed, and the names of the people who will be speaking on behalf of the company during the meeting.

2. Set a Date and Send out Invites

As stated before, all hands meetings should be held at least quarterly or annually. By setting a fixed date, location and time for your all hands meetings, this should make it easier for your attendees to remember and build enthusiasm around the meeting. 

When sending out your meeting invitations, be sure to send them out well in advance so that your employees who plan to attend can include it in their schedule and make any needed accommodations. Typically, it is advised to send out the invites in the beginning of the quarter or at least a month before. 

3. Utilize a Professional, Collaborative Platform

Since all hands meetings consist of different speakers and topics being shared, it may be helpful to use a professional synchronization platform to keep things on track. This can allow participating parties to be productive at their own convenience and also assist you with reviewing content.

4. Assigning a Moderator

Because all hands meetings are typically for a large crowd, having a moderator may come in handy for you. Moderators are great for assisting with the meeting set up, greeting your guests, jumpstarting the meeting and following along with the agenda. Overall, moderators are great for passing along communication between the employees in the audience and the people speaking who hold leadership positions within the company. 

5. Appoint a Virtual Meeting Assistant

The difference between the moderator and the virtual assistant is that the online assistant can facilitate and support the meeting for any attendees who would be joining remotely. If you plan to include breakout sessions in your all hands meeting, then the virtual assistant could help with coordinating them and initiating discussion amongst the staff. 

6. Ensure a Smooth Tech Setup

Selecting an effective video conferencing software is crucial because you want to be sure your audience is able to engage with the information and content presented with no issues.  You also want to make sure guests are able to easily connect their cameras and microphones so that they are able to be seen, speak and listen clearly without disturbing the meeting. 

7. Utilize AV Technician

Working with technology can be overwhelming so to ease some of your stress, look into hiring an AV technician to assist with technical support. In preparation for the event, you’ll want to inform the AV technician the order of the meeting you’ll be following and the type of media you’ll be presenting so that everyone is on the same page. 

8. Have Guest Speakers Share the Stage

To switch things up throughout your all hands meeting, invite a variety of expert speakers to deliver presentations on behalf of their company or industry.  Your attendees will more than likely appreciate the diversity and want to engage by connecting with the different guest presenters.

9. Interact During the Meeting

As a host, you want to make sure your employees are attentive throughout the entire all hands meeting. This is when tactics such as polls, trivia games and surveys come in handy because you are able to interact in addition to collecting honest feedback.

10. Run an Honest Q&A Session

An all hands meeting is the perfect time to casually address your internal team’s questions, concerns and suggestions.  To allow your staff to have an equal opportunity, collect questions beforehand so that no one feels pressure and is comfortable with participating.  The Q&A session may also be a good time to clarify any misunderstandings or confusion so that going forward, your staff is on the same page.  Lastly, it may be effective to encourage impromptu questions during the session because they may relate to the content that was just presented.

11. Follow Up on Unanswered Questions

Depending on the amount of people participating or the amount of questions received, you may not have enough time to address everyone. If that is the case, it’s recommended to follow-up with your attendees afterwards. Whether you do it personally right after the meeting or use communication tools such as videos, emails, SMS texts or surveys; your guests will feel valued and cared for with the action of you following up.

12. Conclude Meeting with Best Next Steps

Wrap up your all hands meeting with a powerful takeaway and actionable steps your employees can apply once it has ended. This will give them an idea of what to do and expect going forward.  Your key takeaways can be presented via the CEO of the company or on a summary slide.

13. Request Feedback

The feedback from your employees play a major role because this is information you can use to improve future all-hands meetings as well as the company’s culture.  This is also a great way to also ensure your meetings and work environment remain relevant as the years go on. 

14. Record and Share Presentation

To fully maximize your all hands meeting, it’s advised to record the meeting in its entirety. That way, you can share and transform this content into a webinar series for current and new employees to refer and engage with when need be.  This can also be helpful for any employees who were unable to attend the meeting to view so that they are in the loop of things. 

How frequent should all hands meetings occur?

How Frequent Should All Hands Meetings Occur?

Deciding on how often you should host an all hands meeting depends on a few different factors such as: 

1. The Significance of the Meeting Content

Depending on the context and the amount of information being shared, you may find it helpful to host in-depth, all hands meetings more frequently throughout the year. 

2. The Size of the Company

If your company consists of 100+ people, it may not be as easy as it seems to gather and host everyone. Of course there are internal communication tools that can be used to universally pass on a message, but to ensure you’re enabling a group conversation factor to your meetings, you may have to strategically plan out frequent meetings so that all important concepts are covered.

3. Communication Channels

How your employees choose to communicate with each other determines how frequent you should plan out all hands meetings. If your company has established open and transparent communication, then hosting several all-hands meetings throughout the year may not be as necessary.

9 Ideas for All Hands Meetings

When hosting an all hands meeting, it is vital to keep things interesting. Below you will find a list of meeting ideas to maximize your meeting’s engagement when ideally hosting this large of a crowd.

1. Host a Lunch and Learn

Quick and concise, lunch and learns are informative and interactive sessions for people to join during the time of their lunch. Typically, lunch and learn events are not loaded with a lot of information and consist of a fun, casual topic or skill. If you are looking to share content to a larger audience, consider incorporating a lunch and learn session into your all hands meeting.

2. Start off with an Icebreaker

If the size of your company is fairly large, it’s a possibility that all of your employees may not know or be familiar with one another. Hosting an all hands meeting is the perfect chance for everyone to meet, greet, get comfortable and learn about each other’s roles within the company. As a host, you can provide them with the option to share with a nearby neighbor or verbally amongst the entire group. 

Suggested Icebreaker Questions:
  • What goals are you looking to achieve this month?
  • How long have you been working for this company?
  • What is your favorite meal to eat for lunch?
  • What do you like most about your job position?
  • What is one skill you would like to learn?

3. Include Department Spotlights

A great way to encourage engagement during an all hands meeting is to highlight the different departments and the important tasks they’re responsible for within your company. The spotlight session can also include department news, feedback or updates that need to be shared.

4. Employee Referrals

All hands meetings are one of the best times to advertise open positions and recruit new people to work for your company. This can be done by encouraging your current employees to refer friends they believe would be qualified for the job. By creating a brief job description that can be shared, you are able to get the word out faster to a large number of people at once. You then could provide incentives to the employees who participated and submitted referrals to show appreciation.

5. Incorporate a Hackathon

Hackathons are known as “creative sprints” where your employees can come together to collaborate on a prospective project. Incorporating a condensed version of a hackathon into your all hands meeting can be achieved by having employees break into groups and giving them an hour or two to solve a solution. Some examples of hackathon projects could be: creating a new pitch, logo or motto on behalf of the company. 

6. Introduce New Team Members

It’s appropriate to introduce new company employees to the rest of the staff especially during an all hands meeting. This allows everyone to meet and connect personally and potentially begin a professional relationship. You can properly recognize your new hires by introducing their name, department, job title and of course a fun fact. To further personalize this introduction, you can also include their email address and  where the new person can be located within the office.

7. Share Company Information

The majority of the information being shared during your all hands meeting should pertain to company news. It’s recommended for the CEO or management to make announcements during meetings such as these, because everyone will be aware and adhere to any changes or updates that are made. 

8. Guest Speaker Q&A Session

Hosting a Q&A session in the format of a lecture is a way to fully engage with your audience while spreading knowledge since frequently asked questions will be answered. With having a guest speaker involved, your employees are allowed the opportunity to take in information from someone who is experienced or knowledgeable in related topics. This also may be a good tactic to apply because it can be more interactive rather than your employees listening to a moderator speak. 

9. Launch an “Ask Me Anything” Session

During an all hands meeting, employees should feel encouraged to get all their thoughts and feelings out of their system. Hosting an “ask me anything” (AMA) session invites your employees to engage in a conversation-like discussion with the guest of honor of the meeting. Along with promoting transparency, AMA talks can help employees understand management’s perspective and personally get a better understanding of the superiors of the company. 

Different Ways to Run an AMA Discussion
  • Call on participating employees who have their hand raised
  • Collect questions beforehand and andress them in order during the meeting
  • Utilize an internal company forum 
  • Encourage employees to ask questions via a text or chat facilitator 

The 7 Components of an All Hands Meeting Agenda

With any meeting you host, providing everyone with a meeting agenda can be helpful. Below, you will learn about the seven important components that are significant to include in an all hands meeting agenda. 

1. The Vision of the Company

An all hands meeting should begin with the company’s vision or mission statement being recited by the host or moderator of the meeting. This is a great way to set cohesiveness and the tone of the meeting.

2. Key Metrics

Next, you’ll want to be sure that you include time in the meeting to review high level metrics. During this part of the meeting, an explanation about the context of each metric and how it affects your company and the market would be relevant.

3. Updates On Clients, Consumers and Employees

Another way to establish cohesiveness amongst the attendees is by providing updates on the company’s clients, consumers and employees. That way everyone can know what’s going on currently and what to expect in the future. 

4. Deep Discussions

Although this component is optional, you may find significance in making time for an in-depth discussion about large scale topics and changes. This will then allow you to hear feedback and collectively brainstorm ideas to implement for the next quarter. 

5. Allow a Question Session

Towards the end of your all hands meeting, take some time to answer questions or concerns that may come about from your employees. This will allow them to feel comfortable while being transparent with their employers. 

6. Express Appreciation

A great way to conclude your all hands meeting is by expressing appreciation amongst your employees. This could be as simple as providing a nice catered lunch, giving out gift cards or handing out peer nominated awards that were created in-house by the company. 

7. Introduce the New

Welcoming someone new to your professional environment is an important component because it can switch the dynamic (in a good way) of the company culture. The new employee you choose to onboard should specialize in something different than your other employees so that everyone can learn a different speciality from one another. 

Best practices for all hands meeting

Best Practices for All Hands Meetings

The value your all hands meeting holds depends on how much effort and dedication you put forth into it. Check out some of these best practices and tips below on how you can host the ultimate all hands meeting for your employees.

1. Emphasize Transparency

Because sharing information and open communication is a key goal for all hands meetings, it is a must that trust is established between the employer and employees. This can be achieved with transparent dialogue about the company’s culture, innovative solutions or any business themes.

2. Switch Up Your Meeting Format

Although being consistent with your meeting format is ideal and traditional, switching up the order of your meeting style can add some excitement. As long as important topics are still discussed and questions are being addressed, feel free to switch up your meeting a bit. 

3. Include Visual Aids

Because your audience may be taking in a lot of information at once, it’s advised to include visuals within your presentation to maintain their attention. Whether it’s an informative video, graphs to demonstrate metrics or a small, still image; a relevant visual aid is much appreciated.

4. Record Your Meeting

A central goal when hosting an all hands meeting is to have the majority, if not everyone, attend- but that isn’t always likely. If that happens to be the case for you, utilizing the recording feature may come in handy for you. That way once it is finished, you can send out the recorded presentation to whomever wasn’t able to attend.  For your next event, consider using Hubilo’s immersive broadcasting studio to record the content and engage with online visitors.

Hosting an All Hands Meeting Remotely

Something else to consider when hosting a large group of people is hosting a hybrid or virtual all hands meeting. This would be ideal for people who reside in different time zones. With many different video conferencing platforms available, you can utilize elements such as polling for questions and the “raise hand” feature to allow someone to speak so that the virtual audience can participate. 

Conclusion

Unlike your traditional conference meeting, all hands meetings are great for establishing trust and enhancing unity within your company. As a host, you could use this meeting to make company announcements, communicate directly with your employees about the company’s culture, listen to feedback and create (stronger) relationships. Depending on the industry you work in, the content you’ll be sharing and the number of guests attending, determines how often you should host an all hands meeting. 

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