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Communicating at work

How to run the best All Hands

How do you run an effective All Hands that aligns and inspires your team?

Whether it’s monthly, bi-weekly or weekly – most companies have some version of an All Hands meeting (some teams call it Team Sync, or Town Hall). All Hands and other company-wide meetings are designed to gather the entire team and provide updates on the business.Despite how important they are, we’ve all been to those All Hands meetings that feel uneventful or like a missed opportunity to engage your team. But they don’t have to be! There are so many ways to improve your company-wide meetings so they can be more productive and engaging. It’s easy to know a meeting should be better, but what are the tactical takeaways you can put into effect immediately? Here are some of our top tips and ideas to help you and your team run the best All Hands ever.

Preparing for your All Hands

A successful All Hands starts long before you press ‘Join’ on your virtual meeting. To help you look your best when it comes time for your meeting, here are some things you should be doing ahead of time to prepare.

Set the structure. There is often a lot to cover during a company-wide All Hands, so it’s important to decide what key segments you want to include ahead of time. Following a regular and repeatable structure also makes it simple to set expectations for attendees.Need some ideas for an All Hands structure? Here are some ideas of sections to include.

Introductions and ice breakers. Instead of awkwardly waiting for everyone to file into the virtual meeting room, start each All Hands meeting with introductions or a recent business success story to build a positive mood. You could also ask a question or run a quick poll to start your meeting with something fun and light-hearted.

Business and financial updates. All Hands are meant to communicate key business information to your employees, so this is likely going to be the most important (and longest) part of your meeting. Some companies refer to this as a CEO or business update. While this section can be more serious, you can use multi-media or other interactive functions to keep your employees engaged.

Team updates. Instead of having 2-3 people on your leadership team talking for hours on end, pass the mic off to individual teams and functions to give a brief update on highlights and new initiatives. This will help give everyone better insight into what other teams are working on. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to empower different faces and voices across your company. If you have a large team, instead of inviting everyone up to the stage, consider using pre-recorded videos in this section to help change things up! You can also bring a rotating roster of different team members to the stage to give updates on their areas of responsibility or expertise – All Hands should involve everyone, not just leadership.

People updates. Depending on the size of your organization, you might want to take time to walk everyone through changes in the people on the team. This could include anything from departures, new hires, or open roles.

Celebrations. Whether it’s company highlights or individual wins, take some time during your company-wide meetings to recognize and celebrate the hard work of your employees. This is nice opportunity to bring this person to the stage and let their voice be heard – all Hands meetings are a great time for all of your employees to get to know their coworkers, especially those they don't work with directly.

Q&A. Foster an environment of transparency and give your employees a chance to ask questions. Platforms like Venue have built-in Q&A tools to make it simple. If your platform of choice doesn’t, you can use a Google Form or Typeform to collect these in advance!

Make a plan and practice

While every All Hands may have a similar structure, each one often includes different speakers and agenda items. To make sure everything runs smoothly, take some time ahead of your next All Hands to create a specific agenda or schedule.If possible, you may even want to go through a test run to make sure your transitions are seamless and that everyone involved is familiar with the technology being used. Especially for new speakers, giving them a taste of the ‘live’ experience is a good warmup. Venue’s built-in Agenda feature is a good way to map out your meeting and make sure it stays on track, too!

Running your All Hands

Coordinate in real-time. Especially for larger organizations, an All Hands can be a large production. It requires coordination from many individuals and teams to run smoothly. Keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in real-time and plan to make adjustments if things aren’t going as planned.Venue’s Backstage Chat makes it easy for presenters and organizers to communicate during the presentation – just in case of any tech or connectivity hiccups!

Make it interactive. Don’t just talk at your team for an hour. Make it a two-way conversation. Using tools like polls and emojis, you can get instant feedback from your team on the topic at hand.To foster even deeper connections incorporate features like Venue’s Breakout Rooms to help individuals contribute to the discussion. Provide prompts or questions for discussion and give everyone 5-10 minutes to discuss with the person next to them (or in their breakout room.)

Keep it fun. All Hands meetings don’t have to be strictly business. Set aside time to make your meeting more of an experience! Bring in a DJ to crank up the tunes between segments. Looking for entertainment? Bring a performer or speaker in to kick off your meeting.Fortunately, making your All Hands fun is really simple. Platforms like Venue make it easy to turn your regular old meetings into show-stopping moments.

Debriefing after your All Hands

After every All Hands, take some time as a team to regroup. This is a great time to figure out what went well and what went… not so well. Collect feedbackReach out to presenters and anyone directly involved to get their thoughts on how things went. Did they feel rushed? Was the meeting platform you’re using easy to navigate?On the flip side, reach out to your team to get their feedback on the meeting. What did they enjoy? What information did they feel they were missing? At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your employees feel like they’re getting value out of the time they spend in a company-wide meeting.Make data-driven decisions for your next All HandsYou almost certainly rely on data to make decisions related to your business. You can use the same approach for your All Hands!How often are people commenting in the chat? Are they using emojis? Are your teams engaging with your polls? Use this information to help determine what segments are most likely to keep your team engaged and which didn’t quite land.

Make your next All Hands the best one yet

Your team’s time is valuable. That’s why your All Hands meetings should be informative, engaging, and inspiring. Schedule a demo today and learn how Venue can help make your next All Hands be the best one yet.

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