In most cases, all-hands meetings are used for larger announcements and updates about the overall company vision and projects within a company. These meetings can become snooze fests, given their highly scripted nature. If there’s no incentive, you can bet employees will tune out quickly. One easy solution is to offer small prizes (think gift cards or small tech gadgets) for attendee engagement at all-hands meetings. Bring a bit of "The Price is Right" zing to your meeting! A simple incentive can go a long way toward making your all-hands meetings more fun and engaging.
The goal of any all-hands meeting is to get people engaged and aligned. If you’re running out of ideas for what to talk about, then start by being intentional in choosing topics that are meaningful, interesting, fun and engaging. These conversations need not be important, or even related to work – but they must be thought provoking or funny. For example, one company holds an annual all-hands meeting where employees vote on a new theme each year. Create a healthy balance of addressing the serious business at hand and building your company culture.
Always keep the core purpose of the all-hands meeting in mind when planning. This is your opportunity to shine, show off the personalities of your leadership, give some color and flare beyond the email and slack-based updates. And let's face it, your team is less likely to ignore a person engaging them "on stage" than an email. Keeping in mind that attention is a precious, limited commodity, you want to use your time wisely. Create an agenda that is short and sweet and focused on the most important matters. We encouage scheduling team meetings right after the All-Hands, so you can brainstorm and project plan while the inspiration is hot (and this helps everyone stays on time!).
We totally get that you want to be prepared, have the perfect answer, not get sidelined, and always provide thoughtful accurate answers. But at the end of the day, your team just wants to know what's up, so they stay aligned and feel connected to the greater vision of the business. It's great to have everyone prepare questions in advance, but do make sure you address the questions (either live or following the meeting), or your trust with the team can erode. And who wants that?!? If you keep engaged and answer questions, your team will walk away from the meeting not only more informed but also more engaged.
Following up on action items and announcements can ensure things get done and promises are kept, and it gives you an opportunity to showcase micro-wins along your journey. Without following up on big decisions and announcements, things can get lost in the shuffle — and you’ll miss out on some opportunities for good celebration moments. If your agenda is too tight to cover "housekeeping", follow up via email after an All-Hands meeting with links and additional resources.
Create a video of highlights from your All-Hands meeting and post it to Slack, intranet, or shared drive. Of course, keep privacy top of mind, check the security settings before posting. This allows team members to stay connected, even if they have a calendar conflict, and teams can refer back to it when important announcements are made. This ensures everyone is getting fresh information, that new hires will get up to speed, and shows off your company culture in an upbeat way.