In a matter of years, the office all-hands meeting has become as common as a quarterly check-in or weekly team meeting.
Borrowed from the maritime phrase, “all hands on deck,” the all-hands (sometimes called a town hall) is a regular meeting for the entire company to gather. During the meeting, leaders may share updates, long term plans, or create a space for feedback and conversation.
An all-hands can be an effective tool to keep everyone on the same page, but more than the practice on its own may be needed. Learn how to run an all-hands, plus practices and tools to make it more beneficial.
Hosting an Effective All-Hands
Unlike a one-on-one or small team meeting, an all-hands draws in the entire company. The scale alone can lead to special considerations and points to keep in mind. As you plot out your next all-hands, here’s what you should keep in mind.
Plenty of preparation
An all-hands is a time to connect with the company at large. Like any sizable speaking engagement, preparation will be your friend. At the very least, create an agenda with talking points — but don’t be afraid to script out what you’ll say if you need to.
Remember that the entire team is on the line, so it’s important to respect their time and attention. Being prepared signals to the rest of your organization that you value their presence in the meeting.
Take time for celebration
An all-hands can be a great time to share general information and prepare the company for what’s to come. However, it’s also important to look back and share wins and kudos with the team. You may have a fair share of housekeeping to get through, so make sure to schedule in time to spotlight team members, launches, or new milestones since the previous meeting.
Creating time to celebrate can help break up the information dump of an all-hands and can be a point of pride for team members with major wins.
Focus on format
You may have lots of talking points to get through during an all-hands, but be mindful of the order in which you do so. Switch up the format or tone of different segments.
If the entire hour is filled with technical information or long presentations, your attendees will lose interest quickly. The format is an essential part of a structured and well-run all-hands meeting.
Show off your team
Avoid monotony by switching things up! One way to do this is by pulling in different team members to present or share information. This gives them a chance to feature what they’ve been working on and pairs a face to a job title for other employees across the company.
Having different people with varying presentation styles guest-speaking during the all-hands can make the experience exciting and engaging. Just be sure to communicate clearly with all presenters regarding prep and how much time they have to speak.
Keep an eye on the clock
You may have plenty of updates to share with your team, but be mindful of how long your all-hands run. You may struggle to keep attention after the 60-minute mark.
If you’re struggling to cut down on content in the all-hands, it may be a sign you should be holding them more frequently. Instead of a 2-hour all-hands every quarter, consider an hour or shorter all-hands every other month.
Going Above and Beyond the All-Hands
Hosting an all-hands is a good way to keep channels of communication open, share updates, and celebrate your company at large. However, in their existing format, an all-hands may not be enough to keep your team engaged.
Is your team spread out and largely away from their desks during the day? Is availability a challenge for your employees across different shifts? Not every workplace operates the same, and for many, an all-hands just isn’t enough.
These considerations can improve engagement in your all-hands, or even transform the way your team shares information.
Aiming for accessibility
If your workforce is largely away from the desk during their shift, asking them to sit in on an hour-plus video conference doesn’t make much sense. If they’re out in the field, or on the road, sitting down to attend the all-hands could prove challenging.
This is when a different format could come in handy. Audio is an ideal format for teams who are constantly on the go, in the field, and don’t spend their days behind a desk. It can also be helpful as an asynchronous format for teams who can’t meet in the office at a set time.
Consider recording an audio-only version of your all-hands, or recording your existing meeting and posting the audio to a private podcasting platform. This gives employees the luxury to tune in when they can, on their own time and schedule.
Every company has a different culture, which means creating the right format for an all-hands is not one-size-fits-all. That’s where collecting feedback is essential.
Whether it’s asking employees to fill out a survey post all-hands, or including a question and answer segment in the meeting, the best way to find out what engages your employees is to ask. Use the feedback to better format future all-hands meetings.
Build community in between
Holding regular, predictable all-hands meetings can help keep employees in the loop, but it’s not a substitute for consistent communication. Consider implementing smaller check-ins with divisions, or similar town hall style meetings for a particular segment of the company.
For frontline teams, finding a private podcast platform that allows you to segment content into different groups is a great way to connect smaller teams in between all-hands meetings. You’ll have the opportunity to dive deeper into specific departments and stay in the loop with different topics.
Amp Up Your All-Hands With Storyboard
Creating an engaging and effective all-hands sounds intimidating, but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re looking for an alternative to create or supplement your standard all-hands meeting, check out Storyboard.
Storyboard is an audio communications tool that hosts private podcasts and modernizes internal communications for deskless teams.
The simple-to-use platform makes it easy to record audio episodes and share them with your company at large, or break the content down for select teams across your organization. Plus, engagement tools make it easier for your team to share their ideas and questions in real-time, creating powerful conversations along the way.
Ready to press play on a new kind of all-hands meeting?
Visit our website to learn more about private podcasts for your frontline and deskless teams.