Running a company all-hands meeting in an online environment may sound challenging at first.
Before we ran our first virtual all-hands meeting last week, it certainly did for us.
In the end, it was actually one of the best ones that we’ve ever had.
Our teammates have given it 5.6/6 on the feedback survey. There was a positive, personal vibe going on, despite the online setting. People were constantly engaged.
Here are the key learnings from our virtual all-hands meeting, along with tech tips and facilitation techniques that worked for us.
Taking the all-hands meeting to a virtual space
Before the pandemic outbreak, we ran hybrid all-hands meetings. About half of our team was gathered in the event space of our HQ, while the rest of our colleagues were connected online.
No matter how hard we tried to improve the experience for our remote teams, there was always some friction.
Some conversations in the room failed to come across to our remote colleagues, and vice versa. There was a lack of connection between the people in the room and those online.
All of these problems were completely erased when we were all online.
As our CEO, Peter said: “In the virtual setting, everything happens in one place, on one call. Everyone feels equal and there’s a higher sense of togetherness.”
We also optimized everything for the virtual experience, from the tech setup to content and facilitation.
Setting the tech up for success
Having a reliable tech stack is the bread and butter of any virtual team meeting. Our remote all-hands meeting ran without a single tech glitch thanks to these:
We use Zoom for each of our virtual meetings and it didn’t fail us once. It’s an amazing tool – smart, intuitive and with a high-quality video and sound.
During our all-hands meeting last week, we had 120 of our teammates joined on a call. Here are some of the tips that made our Zoom experience even better.
- Zoom chat
While on the call, we frequently used Zoom’s chat to interact with each other. For example, our colleagues were sending emoji hearts and supporting words to each other, or reacting to funny comments.
- Zoom gallery view
We encouraged people to turn on their cameras and switch to gallery view so they could see other colleagues as well, not just the video window of the speaker.
- Remote control of the screen
Since we have multiple speakers involved, we like using the remote control feature in Zoom that allows the presenters to manage their slides from one shared screen.
Before the meeting, we created one master deck on Google Slides and shared it with the presenters, so that they could add their slides into it. This made the content sharing during the meeting much easier.
We had all the content in one place, and we were able to operate the whole meeting from one screen, without having to switch between multiple presentations.
Tip: When it comes to slides, don’t overwhelm your team with a heavy presentation. Simplify your slides: One idea/figure/number per slide will do.
In order to create interaction during the meeting, we were using our Slido for Google Slides integration. With it, we were able to add live polls and Q&A directly into our GS slide deck.
For example, during our latest all-hands, all our teams presented their OKRs for Q2. After every presentation, we ran a simple rating poll with the question: “How clear are these OKRs to you?”
Tip: If you’re not using Google Slides, you can seamlessly switch between Slido and your slides, or any other content, using Switcher.
Alternatively, you can use Alt+Tab or swipe on Mac. In this article, you’ll find out more about how to set up Slido for your virtual meeting.
Facilitating conversations during the call
We tried our best to design the meeting in a way that made it dynamic and engaging throughout. During the meeting, we had 8 speakers to deliver content.
This proved invaluable for changing the dynamic and bringing in more perspectives.
Additionally, we asked our colleague, Kristina, to moderate the meeting, while our Head of Internal Communications, Daniela, oversaw the whole meeting from the technical side of things.
Here are the key interaction points of our virtual all-hands meeting:
- Catching-up before the meeting
- Warm-up poll to kick off the meeting
- Celebrating people’s achievements
- Re-engaging people throughout with polls
- Q&A time
Catching-up before the meeting
We opened the call 15 minutes earlier to allow our team to ‘mingle’ and catch up. Remote work tends to get lonely so it’s nice to socialize a bit with your team before the meeting starts.
Warm-up poll to kick off the meeting
As our colleagues were joining the call, our moderator, Kristina, ran an open text poll: “What is the first thing you will do once the outbreak is over?”
She also encouraged people to share their thoughts verbally, or explain the ‘why’ behind their answer. This added a nice touch to the meeting and helped us start on a positive note.
Celebrating people’s achievements
During our all-hands, we celebrated both people’s anniversaries and achievements. Since most people were muted during the call, we could only do a silent clap for our heroes.
Other colleagues raised hands in the air, put their hands together in the heart shape, or sent their love through the Zoom chat.
Tip: Create your own virtual clap, or agree with your team on a special signal or gesture. Not only will it improve your virtual communication, but also personalize your meeting.
Re-engaging people throughout with polls
During our all-hands, after each team lead presented their OKRs for the Q2, they asked for our team’s instant feedback by running a 1-6 rating poll: “How clear are these OKRs to you?”
If there were ratings that were below 5 stars, we encouraged people to post questions into Slido to help them clear things up.
Asking for people’s input is a great way to keep them engaged during the meeting, and check their understanding of the presented material.
We wanted our first fully remote all-hands meeting to be as people-centric as possible. With that in mind, we ran an exceptionally long Q&A session (30 minutes!). We practically answered all questions in Slido before or during the meeting.
In the virtual setting, the Q&A felt more spontaneous, and the experience was even smoother than when we were in a meeting room. The executives weren’t as in the spotlight as they usually are when sitting in front of everyone in a room, and both questions and answers seemed to be more on point.
The feedback survey that we sent to our colleagues at the end of the meeting proved it: the majority of people considered Q&A as the most important part.
Over to you
We hope that these tips have inspired you and that you will try one of them to make your virtual all-hands meetings more engaging and valuable for your colleagues.
At Slido, we’re ready to help your company achieve that.
Contact us or schedule a demo with our team below and we’ll be happy to find a tailored solution for you.