What Is an All-Hands Meeting and How to Host a Great One

Katy Mrvova
what is an all hands meeting blog header

Done right, a regular all-hands meeting will drive transparency and alignment within your team and positively foster your company culture.

If you’re new to the concept of all-hands meetings, or you’re in the discovery phase of how to improve yours, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about all-hands meetings.

By the end, you’ll learn:

      1. What is an all-hands meeting?
      2. Why should you run all-hands meetings?
      3. How to host a great all-hands meeting

Ready? Let’s dive right in.

What is an all-hands meeting?

An all-hands meeting – sometimes called a town hall – is a regular, company-wide gathering where all employees, leaders, and stakeholders meet to discuss the most important company-wide matters.

The name ‘all-hands meeting’ comes from the phrase ‘all hands on deck’ – a signal that requires all ship crew members to go on deck.

The goal of an all-hands meeting is to:

  • share business updates of the past month, quarter, or season
  • drive alignment around company mission and strategy
  • celebrate milestones and the people who made them possible
  • give everyone a chance to ask questions

It’s never too early to start running all-hands meetings. You’ll know it’s time, as soon as it gets difficult to keep everyone in the company on the same page.

At Slido, for example, we started running our own all-company meetings when our team was about 40 in size. Since then, they have become a permanent fixture in our calendars.

Get your free guide with 25 tips for more engaging all-hands meetings.

Slido all hands meeting audience

Tip
Depending on the size of your company, you might choose to run your all-hands meetings on a departmental or regional level. This creates a space to go deeper into topics that might be too granular for the entire company.

Why should you run all-hands meetings?

There are 5 main benefits of adding all-hands meetings into your company calendar:

  1. Keep everyone updated and aligned
  2. Foster your company culture
  3. Give everyone a voice
  4. Celebrate people and their successes
  5. Connect HQ with other offices and remote employees

📈 Keep everyone updated and aligned

All-hands meetings are opportunities for sharing company-wide information and keeping every employee updated on everything business-related. Review your key metrics, such as sales, revenue, net retention, NPS, etc.

Other than that, all-hands meetings allow you to get your employees aligned on the company goals and strategy. Think of every member of your team as a vector. An all-hands meeting helps you point them in the right direction.

💚 Foster your company culture

All-hands meetings are important avenues for demonstrating and strengthening your company culture. Talk about your company vision & mission, emphasize your values, and review how your company’s doing in terms of achieving your goals.

This is very inspiring and lets people know that there’s a higher purpose behind their work, other than just revenue.

📣 Give everyone a voice

Dedicate at least 20% of your all-hands agenda to Q&A so you have enough time to answer the most critical questions. Collect questions from your employees before the meeting, but also allow your team to ask impromptu questions live during the meeting as well.

Slido all hands meeting Q and A session

An open Q&A session with leadership will help you uncover the most burning issues and foster transparency in your workplace.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Celebrate people and their successes

Since all-hands meetings are first and foremost about the people and for the people, celebrating your team members is as important as the business updates.

Especially when things get overwhelming, nothing boosts morale like talking about the highlights and giving a shout-out to the people who helped to achieve them.

🔄 Connect HQ with other offices and remote employees

In today’s hybrid world, with teams being spread around the world, all-hands meetings help you bring everyone together and make them feel part of the community.

Slido all hands meeting with remote teams

Especially if you’re a company with hundreds of employees, all-hands meetings are unique opportunities where employees can meet and connect with leadership (at least online) and get answers to any questions they might have.

How to host a great all-hands meeting

Here are 15 tips that will help you prepare and run a great company all-hands meeting:

#1. Set a fixed date and invite people early

Make your all-hands a tradition. Set a fixed frequency for your all-hands and stick to it. This will help people get used to the meetings and they will be more likely to attend.

Send the calendar invites to your colleagues well in advance; ideally at the start of the season or quarter so they can schedule other meetings or days off accordingly. You can also set a fixed time if it’s suitable for the majority of the team, or switch between morning and afternoon slots to accommodate your regional teams.

#2. Build a clearly structured agenda

Set a clear agenda for your all-hands meeting with agreed timings. Allocate a concrete time range for each section of your all-hands based on your company priorities. To avoid overruns, sync with all your speakers before the meeting and tell them to keep an eye on the time.

Don’t forget to leave enough time for Q&A and feedback. For your inspiration, here’s our all-hands meeting agenda broken down into concrete building blocks.

#3. Ensure a flawless tech setup

If you have an international team like we do – almost half of our colleagues work outside the HQ – secure the best possible online experience for them.

Picking a reliable video conferencing tool is everything. At Slido, we use Webex. For content and interaction, we’re using our Slido for Google Slides integration. It allows us to share slides with everybody on the call while seamlessly running live polls and Q&A in between. If you’re using PowerPoint, try Slido for PowerPoint.

Have cameras facing both the audience and the speakers to make sure they get as immersed in the meeting as possible. Good audio is key as well.

Tip
If you’re running your all-hands meetings in a hybrid setup, supply microphones and external speakers in the meeting room/s so that your remote participants can hear what’s happening in the room.

#4. Sync with your AV technician

Don’t let technology let you down. Sync with the person responsible for AV ahead of your all-hands meeting and make sure they are aware of the formats you will be using (slides, audio, video) and of all interactive activities that you’ll be running.

It’s also good practice for the tech person to be at the ready during the meeting if any technical issues come up so they can instantly troubleshoot and fix any troubles.

#5. Put all slides in one place

To avoid technical hiccups and back and forths, create one master slide deck where all the speakers upload their slides. This will help you review the content, collaborate effectively, and make the flow much smoother.

If you’re using Google Slides or PowerPoint, you can also create interaction points directly in your presentation using one of Slido’s integrations. This will allow any speaker contributing to the slide deck to insert a live poll or Q&A directly into their presentation flow.

#6. Have a meeting moderator

Your all-hands meeting is an event. And every event needs a moderator. Appoint someone from your team to moderate the meeting (at Slido, it is our internal comms manager or virtual events manager).

A good moderator will help you set the stage for the meeting. This person will greet your teammates as they join the call, kick off the meeting and keep an eye on the agenda.

Slido all hands meeting moderator

They will serve as a bridge between the speakers and the people in the audience, guiding everyone through the meeting, introducing the speakers, facilitating the discussions, and the Q&A session.

#7. Appoint a remote champion

Consider having a dedicated person who will facilitate the meeting for the colleagues joining online. Like a sports commentator, the online champion will engage the remote teams before, during, and after the meeting.

If we run breakout sessions, the remote champion coordinates and drives the discussions among our remote coworkers.

#8. Have various speakers share the stage

Spending an hour (or more) on a content-heavy meeting is draining for your employees as it is, let alone if they’re made to listen to the CEO’s or another executive’s long monologue.

Break the dynamic of your all-hands meeting by inviting more people to deliver presentations. Your team will surely appreciate the diversity and will be more engaged with the content.

CEO of Slido Peter Komornik speaks at all hands meeting

Our CEO, Peter Komornik, always shares the stage with leaders of other departments who notify us about the product updates and the progress of key projects. Often, our user research team presents an inspiring customer story. It’s refreshing and brings in multiple perspectives.

#9. Engage with your team during the meeting

Don’t let your employees sit through the meeting passively. Use interactive live polls to ask your coworkers a thought-provoking question or ask them for real-time feedback.

For example, after you’ve presented a new strategy, ask your team what they think about it or how well they understand it using a rating poll. Plan out several interaction points throughout your all-hands program and insert them into your all-hands agenda, whether in-between or during the individual speakers’ slots.

Slido rating poll used at virtual offsite

To add a bit of a fun element to your meeting, you can run a quiz. For example, turn your company numbers into quiz questions and let your employees have a guess at how your company did. If you need inspiration for questions, find it here.

Read also: 8 Fresh Ideas to Try at Your Next All-Hands Meeting

#10. Boost team morale

Use your all-hands meeting to strengthen your company culture and lift the team spirit. Try a ‘Silent Hero’ activity to give a shout-out to all the heroes and heroines in your company.

Ask each team member to think of a person who went the extra mile for them or did an exceptional job last month or quarter. Next, let them submit that person’s name into a Slido word cloud poll.

Slido virtual icebreakers silent hero

At Slido, we do this activity at every all-hands, and then share the word cloud on the big screen. Seeing your name on the screen is a real motivation booster.

Or, here’s another idea for a morale-boosting activity. Using a word cloud poll question, ask your team members “What are you most proud of about our culture?”

Slido word cloud poll at virtual offsite

Our CEO, Peter Komornik, did this during one of our all-hands meetings and it was truly powerful to see how people perceive our culture.

#11. Run more transparent Q&A sessions

An all-hands meeting is a unique opportunity to address your team’s questions or concerns and put any miscommunications or misunderstandings straight.

Collect questions before your all-hands meeting through Slido. It will help you gauge the topics the team wants to discuss, and better prepare the executives for the Q&A.

For example, we share a link to the Slido Q&A one week before our meeting in our Slack’s #general channel.

an example of collecting questions before a meeting via Slido in internal communications channel

This allows our colleagues to think about their questions and submit them comfortably, either anonymously or with their name attached. They can also upvote or downvote questions submitted by others, helping to sort out the most relevant ones.

Collect your employees’ questions during the meeting as well – it will allow for any impromptu questions regarding the content that was shared throughout the meeting.

a screenshot from a Slido Q&A displayed on a screen during a meeting

Display the questions in Slido on the screen for everyone to be able to follow the discussion. Your meeting facilitator can then build a discussion around these questions during the Q&A session at the end.

Read also: How to Facilitate a Successful Q&A Session

#12. Follow up on unanswered questions

Sometimes, you get way more questions than your executives are able to answer during a limited Q&A slot. Don’t leave your employees’ questions unanswered.

Show that you truly care about their concerns and follow up on their unanswered questions after the meeting. Address any outstanding ones in writing, share an internal memo, have your departmental leads provide answers individually to their team or record a video/audio recording.

Read also: What to Do with Unanswered Questions After Your All-Hands Meeting

#13. Conclude the meeting with actionable next steps

Finish off the all-hands with a strong message to give your employees something tangible to leave with. Prepare a wrap-up slide with a key takeaway or have your CEO summarize the most important points and next steps.

This is an effective way to get people on the same page and energize them for what lies ahead.

#14. Ask for feedback

Your employees’ feedback is the only way to keep improving your all-hands meetings and ensuring they’re as relevant as they can be.

So before everybody leaves, ask them to fill out a short feedback survey to evaluate the meeting. Keep your survey short and to the point so it’s quick for your employees to complete.

Slido feedback form

Here’s an example survey for you:

  • How would you rate this all-hands meeting? (rating poll)
  • What’s the most valuable part of our all-hands meetings? (open text poll)
  • Any ideas for improvement of all-hands? (open text poll)

#15. Record the meeting and share the recording

Oh, and don’t forget to press record at the start of your call.

After the meeting, share the recording with your employees in your internal communications channels so that those who couldn’t join can watch it later.

Ready to take your all-hands meetings to the next level? Try Slido today. It’s free. Just like all good things in life.

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