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5 Tips for Planning the Perfect All-Hands Meeting

Anne Balistreri
min read

We know holding in-person all-hands gatherings is ideal—but the world of “all in-person, all the time” is likely never coming back. Whether you’re leading a remote or hybrid team, your technical needs for all-hands meetings are changing faster than ever.

Ready to ditch complicated A/V hookups, bootstrapped technology bundles, and utilitarian virtual meeting software? We’ve got a simple, elegant solution for you. Welcome is employee event software that helps you build engagement, boost sentiment scores, and connect your people—wherever they’re working from.

We’re also experts in designing and producing employee gatherings that make a major impact on your company culture. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your next all-hands meeting to maximize your impact—and minimize your stress levels. 

Plan ahead to maximize your impact

We know how hard it is to hold a polished, professional meeting for your entire company on the regular. 

If you’re tasked with producing a weekly or monthly all-hands, it can be a last-minute scramble to align leadership on a message, develop a slide deck, and load in the meeting. 

Here are a few ways you can streamline the process, so you’re not working overtime:

  • Start planning in advance and give yourself more time than you think. Everyone from your CEO to your event producer needs time to align on the message and create content. Make it a part of your weekly sync.
  • Build your all-hands agendas into your internal content calendar. You don’t leave your other internal comms to chance. Give your all-hands meetings a strategic glow-up by tying them to other internal comms messaging calendars.
  • Identify your MC. CEOs often address teams directly during an all-hands, but it can also be helpful to designate an energetic MC to hype up the crowd and help with your run of show.

Define the purpose of your meeting

The sooner you identify the purpose of each all-hands meeting, the easier it will be to develop an agenda that meets your goals and keeps your team engaged. 

To begin, narrow your purpose for each all-hands meeting to one or two crucial communication objectives. 

At Welcome, we like to use this four-part communication framework from organizational psychologist Lindsey Caplan to keep the purpose of our all-hands meeting top of mind:

  • Entertain: Finding moments for fun, conversation, and connection
  • Engage: Creating opportunities for your team to provide meaningful feedback. 
  • Inform: Sharing mission-critical goals, product updates, or other items that affect how you conduct business day-to-day.
  • Ensure Compliance: Reviewing critical all-staff updates, like new policies or HR requirements, in order to check for understanding.

Of course, a great all-hands meeting can include more than one type of communication goal—as long as each communication goal serves the overall objective of your meeting. Which goal would you like to prioritize during your next all-hands meeting?

Consider your cadence

Welcome has a very specific all-hands cadence. By conducting three all-hands meetings a month, we’re able to meet all of our communication objectives without causing staff overwhelm.

How distributed your team is may also affect cadence, since remote or hybrid teams will have different schedules and technological needs. Here are a few prompts to help you consider your audience and cadence:

  • What does your employee make-up look like?
  • Where is your audience located? (Across the U.S.? International?)
  • Are you all working remotely? Are you a company with multiple, hybrid sites?
  • Do you have time and bandwidth to produce more than one event per month?
  • How will more than one all-company meeting per month affect your employees’ needs and knowledge? Their dedicated working hours?

As you consider your current objectives and company needs, you may want to break up your all-hands meeting to provide an even narrower focus for each session. 

On the flip side, if scheduling multiple all-hands meetings per month is a challenge for your distributed team, now is the time to identify only the most pressing, high-priority content for your next meeting.

Sample All-Hands Cadence: One Month

Take a peek at Welcome’s All-Hands cadence for monthly meetings. Notice how our purpose, communication objectives, and content are all tied together. Do any of these ideas work for your company?

Week 1: Wellness Friday

Purpose: To give staff more time for rest and recovery.

Communication objectives: None! On the first week of every month, we cancel our all-hands meetings.

Content: N/A

Week 2: Business Update & Metrics

Purpose: To review OKRs for the entire company.

Communication objectives: To inform and ensure compliance.

Content: CEO address, business review, and leadership Q&A

Week 3: Social Gathering

Purpose: To create connection, improve employee belonging, and boost morale

Communication objectives: To entertain and engage

Content: Team-building activities

Week 4: External Visitor

Purpose: To gain insights from a Welcome customer, thought leader, or other guest speaker. 

Communication objectives: To inform and engage

Content: Visitor address, panel discussion, and Q&A

Fill your agenda

Now that you know the purpose of your all-hands meeting, it’s time to develop an agenda that meets your goals. 

Here are a few best practices for narrowing in on the content that will best serve your goals and make an effective use of everyone’s time.

  • Do: Identify content that’s meaningful for the entire organization.
  • Don’t: Only share KPIs and stats that matter for one team. It’s not a successful all-hands if your sales team is psyched but everyone else is snoring!

  • Do: Lead with company values, like your mission statement or other pillars of internal culture.
  • Don’t: Talk about values without tying it to concrete actions. Who’s walking the walk on individual teams? In the company? Give them a shout-out!

  • Do: Create and stick to a weekly or monthly cadence that’s realistic for everyone. 
  • Don’t: Leave the purpose of your all-hands to chance. How can you use other factors like meeting cadence, communication goals, and company values to help you align on your meeting content more quickly?

Engage your audience

According to organizational psychologist Lindsey Caplan, “information alone is hardly enough to get people excited and engaged” during your all-hands meeting. 

If you’re only relaying information or giving employees to-do items, you’re missing out on opportunities to engage them directly in your content. 

Because of this, engagement is a special agenda item for you and your team to consider. Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  • What’s your intended outcome for engagement? 
  • Do you want employees to be more informed, to take a specific action, or some other outcome?
  • Is there information you’re trying to discover through specific engagement opportunities, like live polling or AMAs?
  • What’s your plan for using the information you learn through increased engagement?

Aligning on your engagement outcomes will not only help you find more opportunities to engage your employees. It will also help you choose the right kind of engagement—at the right time.

Final Thoughts

With the purpose of your meeting getting clearer by the minute, you’ll be able to identify all the agenda items you need to cover in no time. With content in mind, you can identify the best opportunities to engage your employees throughout the meeting.

As an enterprise solution for employee events and gatherings, Welcome has all the features you need to engage your team, track and analyze sentiment scores, and deliver a memorable experience. Start building employee belonging with your very next all-hands meeting—contact us today for a demo or to find out more!

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