“All hands on deck!” It’s a command given by sea captains (salty ones with scraggly beards I always imagine) when their ship is facing a crisis of some kind. At the command, the entire crew runs up to the deck to do whatever necessary so the ship doesn’t sink.
All-hands meetings take their name from this idea, and the goal is quite similar. Maybe your CEO is clean-shaven and doesn’t have a pegleg, but there are those times when he or she needs to gather the entire team together.
How to Plan a Successful All-Hands Meeting
4 Awesome Benefits of All-Hands Meetings
There are numerous benefits of planning all-hands meetings. Here are 4 of the biggest ones:
- Keep Your Team Updated and Aligned
All-hands meetings are an excellent way to ensure your entire team is in the loop and on the same page. But beyond updating your team, these meetings help you to keep staff aligned with company goals.
- Celebrate Recent Victories and Inspire New Ones
Nothing boosts morale quite like celebrating team wins. It’s important throughout the year to give your team members “shout outs” for a job well done. A well-planned all-hands meeting celebrates team members and motivates them to reach new goals.
- Create a Forum for Discussion and Questions
It’s important to give everyone on your team a chance to ask questions and share concerns or new ideas. Inviting all team members “to the table” is an effective way to install transparency and trust within your organization.
- Foster Company Culture
The really cool thing about these meetings is that they are about and for your people. Beyond sharing new ideas, strategies, and goals, all-hands allow your organization to foster its company culture in a way that other yearly events can’t. Yes, these meetings are about emphasizing values and sharing ideas to reach new goals, but they are also an excellent opportunity for your team members to let loose and have some fun!
As you can guess, each one of these benefits has a direct impact on your bottom line. So while effective all-hands meetings require a financial commitment from management, the ROI can be very worth it.
Tips for Planning a Successful All-Hands Meeting
When planned and executed well, all-hands meetings offer the aforementioned benefits. Done poorly, all-hands meetings can be an incredible waste of time and resources.
Here are some tips to help you plan a successful all-hands meeting:
Create a Clear Agenda
Like all corporate events, success hinges on starting with an agenda and sticking to it. What is your overall goal of the meeting? Who will speak? What information will be shared?
Allocate enough time for each section and be sure your speakers know how much time they’ll have well in advance so they can prepare. And don’t forget to allot some time for the open discussion and Q&A I mentioned earlier.
Assign a Moderator
Moderators serve as an important bridge between speakers and audience members. They’re kind of like MCs that introduce speakers and keep the crowd engaged. Beyond this, they are also typically the ones who help keep things on track, facilitate discussions and help steer Q&A sessions. This role is particularly important for those larger organizations where, if not properly managed, the meeting can go off the rails quickly!
Engage Your Team Throughout
We have found it beneficial to plan several interaction points throughout your all-hands meeting to keep your team members continually engaged. Interactive polls are an easy way to invite engagement. These can be done in between speaking slots.
Collect Questions Beforehand
It’s a good idea to collect questions from team members in advance of your program. This will help you to sniff out any potential topics of interest to the group. Getting questions beforehand also allows your executive team to prepare for the Q&A section.
Tips for Running a Successful Virtual All-Hands Meeting
Whether it’s because of Covid-19 safety measures or simply because too much of your team is remote, there are reasons why you may decide to host a virtual all-hands meeting instead of an in-person event. This virtual component can trip up some meeting planners. Here are some best practices we have learned:
Tech is Key
It goes without saying that your virtual meeting will live or die by the technology you choose. The right video conferencing tool will help you run a seamless meeting and also help you integrate live polls and Q&A sessions into your agenda. If you aren’t all that tech savvy, consider working with professional meeting planners who can help you select all of the digital tools you’ll need.
Invite Your Team Early
Make sure you let your team know well in advance when your meeting will take place. In-person events, where team members are required to pack a suitcase, go to an airport, get on a place, etc.. are hard events to have “slip your mind.” But when an event is virtual and your staff will be attending from their living room, it’s far easier to forget to actually attend.
Along with an early invite, be sure to email everyone important housekeeping information such as the link to the conference call and what your staff should do if there are tech problems.
Have a Run-Through
Virtual Murphy’s Law says, if technology can fail, it will. It is incredibly important that you do a dry-run of your all-hands meeting to review the agenda and test your technology setup. Be sure your AV team is present to help you hammer out any kinks.
All-hands meetings are incredibly beneficial to your organization when done right. If you follow these tips, you should be able to run both an in-person or virtual event that reaches your objectives.
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J.Shay Team is the generic alias for our event staff that want to submit work anonymously.