Better meetings series #1: How to run a successful all-hands meeting


We all know that meetings work best when you set an agenda and have a structure. But when it comes to running them, not all meetings are the same. For example, how many people are involved? What are the goals? Who will be attending?

In this series, we look at some common meeting formats and give you our tried and tested methods to help you get the best out of them.

First up, a big one: the company or team “all-hands” meeting.

We’ve talked a lot about collaboration and company culture, and in particular the challenges that large companies face when trying to maintain this at scale. Regardless of company or team size, one of the best ways to engage employees and motivate them is through an all-hands meeting. This is a regular meeting – usually quarterly or annual, but can be as often as every few weeks depending on the company – where management can talk strategic direction and get everyone on the same page, or “all-hands on deck”.

While the overall content and structure of the meeting will be unique to your organisation and what it does, there are some key pointers to make sure that it has real impact, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.

Keep it relevant

All-hands meetings are typically about passing on information, but there is such thing as too much information. Not everything will be relevant to everyone, and trying to include everything will also make the meeting run overtime. Remember, this is an opportunity to motivate and excite your employees, not put them to sleep.

Know the key messages you want to deliver and to whom, and make sure that they are the main focus. If the whole workforce needs to be there, then stick to the big picture and get team leaders to go through their team’s road map in more depth later. If you would like to explore a certain aspect of the business or a project in detail, ensure that only the relevant people are attending.

Include time for listening

An all-hands meeting provides a great opportunity to reflect on employee feedback and answer their questions. Taking the time to listen to what your employees have to say is crucial to employee engagement.

With so many people in the same room, having an open forum may not be the best solution however. Instead, collect feedback and questions ahead of the meeting so there is a prepared list, and run live polls so you can measure reaction during the course of the event. You can use an interactive meeting tool like Wisembly to help facilitate this.

Talk about progress

One of the most important aspects of a successful all-hands meeting is talking about the progress you’ve made as a company or team since the last one. Celebrate milestones and achievements, and don’t be afraid to admit if something didn’t go to plan. Talking about what worked, what didn’t work, what you learned and how can you improve helps to create shared goals that everyone can work towards.

All-hands meetings can be invaluable when it comes to motivating employees, but planning its content is key to its success. They also don’t need to be long – in fact, the most time spent on an all-hands meeting should be in the preparation stages to ensure it’s relevant to attendees. Put the effort into designing a focused event which highlights important information, allows for employee input and looks at how far you’ve come, and it will leave a lasting impression.


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