For your employees, the Q&A is often the most valuable part of your all-hands meeting. That’s what our team members say, too. But there’s a problem many companies face: limited time.
So what do you do if you end up with some unanswered questions at the end of your meeting?
Here’s my advice: don’t ignore them. If you wave people’s concerns off, they will feel like their voice doesn’t matter.
Instead, show people that you care. Address the unanswered questions afterward. It will help you ensure that important issues don’t slip through the cracks.
To help you handle it, here are 8 ways to address outstanding questions after your next all-hands.
1. Address unanswered questions on Slack
The most useful place to share the answers is where you communicate as a team. And for many companies, this place is Slack. So it only makes sense to publish the answers there.
One of our customers, a leading games publisher, shared how they handle unanswered questions using Slack.
Their executives commit to answering the top 20 questions at each all-hands. If they’re not able to do that, they answer the remaining questions in writing.
After each all-hands, the comms team downloads all the questions collected via Slido into a spreadsheet. They take the top 20 upvoted questions and ask the relevant executives to respond.
Once they have all the answers, they post each question and answer separately in a read-only Slack channel. To see people’s sentiments, they track the emoji reactions to each answer.
2. Send answers by email
If email is your go-to team communication channel, consider sharing the answers this way.
You can add a document with the outstanding questions and answers as an attachment along with your slide deck and meeting notes. Or copy and paste them into the email body.
Here’s a tip from Norito Yonezawa, Corporate Strategy Planner at Suntory Beverage & Food Limited, on how to pull it off:
“During our town halls, the MC takes the 5-10 most popular questions that people upvote on Slido. After each meeting, I download all the collected questions and pass the unanswered ones to the executives. Once I get their answers, I share those with employees via email.”
Having all the important post-meeting materials in one place will save people time looking for them elsewhere.
3. Post the responses on your intranet
Sharing information where your employees communicate makes it easier to access for everyone. So if you use your intranet to promote company-wide messages, use this space to respond to outstanding questions.
In a recent article about how they run all-hands meetings at Namely, Sara Applin, Chief of Staff advises:
“If you’re not able to address every question that comes up, post responses to unanswered questions on your company HR Information System the next day.”
You can post each question and answer to a dedicated space on your intranet. Or, share a link to the document with the responses and ensure every team member can access it.
As a result, you will save your team the time wasted on having to switch between tools.
4. Create an internal blog post
While sharing the information on Slack, intranet or via email is functional, it does not leave much space to make the content look appealing. If you’re looking for an engaging way to provide answers, turn it into an internal blog post.
For example, the CEO of Teamwork.com, Peter Coppinger does this regularly:
“Every month, I answer all the questions that come my way through Feed the CEO Monkey and publish them on our internal blog…I promised the team that no matter how hard or uncomfortable the questions were, I would answer every question honestly for the entire team.”
Make sure you post the article on the channels that your employees use the most. Sharing information via internal blog posts will give you more space to elaborate on each issue.
5. Add FAQs to the slide deck
In case you don’t feel like a writer but still, you want to make your answers more visual, add the responses as FAQs at the end of the all-hands presentation.
For example, our CFO, Igor, held an important session about salary structure. Naturally, people had many questions on what this means for them.
At the end of the one-hour session, there were a number of questions collected on Slido that were left unanswered.
So, after the session, Igor added the most popular questions with his answers as FAQs into the presentation.
He grouped related questions together, two per slide, and added them at the end of his slide deck. Then he shared the presentation and a recording in a message on Slack.
This way, everyone could access all the information in one place without leaving the slide deck.
6. Organize a separate ‘Ask Me Anything’ session
For companies that run all-hands meetings less often, discussion topics might pile up. If this is your case, consider holding separate ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions with the CEO regularly.
Invite everyone to attend and let people know what the focus of the AMA will be. You can dedicate the session to a specific topic, such as team structure or a change in the way you do business. Or you can address all the outstanding questions, one by one.
You can even turn the AMA into a weekly or bi-weekly item in people’s calendars like Google or Twitter did in the early days.
Showing people that their questions matter and that the CEO is willing to discuss them openly will help you build a culture of transparency and trust.
Extra tip: To make sure you capture all questions, use a Q&A tool and start collecting before your meeting starts. Then let people upvote the most burning topics and address those first. It will give you more time to review questions and prepare answers.
7. Run an Open House to explore the topic in depth
Sometimes, people might ask complex or niche questions during the all-hands relevant only to a few people in the room. Take them away and create space for in-depth discussion. Organize an Open House.
Open House is an in-depth session that companies use to reinforce the most important themes coming out of all-hands meetings. It will help your team to build connections across offices and give more people a seat at the table.
For example, Marks & Spencer does this regularly:
“When we see a recurring theme or a question that has been upvoted on Slido many times, we take it and develop it into a whole session,” shared Adrian Lowther, their former Senior Employee Communications Manager.
They run Open Houses at SoundCloud, too.
“The first all-hands of every quarter is dedicated to high-level goals and objectives for the next 3 months. This is often followed by an Open House for anyone who wants to dig deeper into these topics,” shares David Noël, SoundCloud’s VP of Community.
When organizing an Open House, clarify what the session is about and whom it is for in the invite. Stating the objectives will make it easier for people to decide whether to attend.
8. Record a video
In case you don’t have enough time to run a dedicated session, record a video instead. It’s a quick and effective way to address the questions and everyone can watch it in their own time.
You can post the video on your intranet or Slack. Or, if your team has embraced social media as the main collaboration tool, post the video there. For instance, on a closed company Facebook page.
Wherever you decide to share it, make sure you give your employees a way to react to what you are saying in the video.
You can ask people to share their reactions via comments or emojis. This will help you at least in part make up for the lack of in-person interaction that you would have during a live session.
Over to you
Addressing unanswered questions after your all-hands meeting will make your employees feel that their voice matters. Show your team that you care. It will help you build trust and create a more open and transparent culture in your company.