10 Tips to Run a Productive Virtual All-Hands Meeting

Flex and remote work seem to be here to stay. According to Gallup, before 2019 (pre-pandemic), only 8% of employees were exclusively remote, and 32% were considered a hybrid. In February of 2022, those numbers grew to 39% and 42%, respectively.

Going forward, 53% of workers expect a hybrid arrangement, and 24% expect to work exclusively remotely.

With all that remote work, it seems that video conferencing will continue to dominate workplace communications. But, as anyone who has been in these meetings knows, they are not always the best way to keep your team aligned and engaged.

To learn more about improving your communication with strategies like daily All-Hands meetings, download our Guide to Optimizing Your Workplace with the Daily Huddle.

Keep Your Team Aligned in the Not-So-New Normal

All-Hands meetings provide an excellent opportunity to keep your whole team on the same page, no matter where they are located in the world.

Meetings are crucial for a company’s productivity, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of holding unmemorable or easily ignorable meetings. As a leader, you must put forth an effort to make sure your employees are engaged and stay up to date on relevant business information.

1. Prepare and follow an agenda

As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” One great way to make meetings more productive is by preparing and following an agenda. Make sure everyone knows the purpose of the meeting, and stick to that schedule as much as possible. This will help to keep everyone focused and on track. It’ll also help others come to the meeting with an idea of what will be discussed and what questions they may need to ask.

Additionally, it’s important to give everyone a chance to contribute. If possible, use Zoom tools that allow participants to raise their hands virtually, give congratulations, or ask their questions in chat. This will help ensure that everyone feels like they’re being heard and make the meeting more interactive.

2. Make It Fun

Virtual all-hands meetings can sometimes be a bit dry and it’s difficult to engage everyone. One way to make them more fun and interesting is to use icebreakers, questions of the day, or contests (Example: vote on who has the best virtual background of the day). Icebreakers can help people get to know each other and loosen your team up before getting down to business. Questions of the day can spark discussion and creativity, and contests can add a bit of friendly competition to the mix.

All of these things can help make virtual all-hands meetings more productive by keeping people involved and focused. So next time you plan a virtual all-hands meeting, remember to add some fun elements and not just focus on business matters.

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3. Include Everyone

One surefire way to ensure your virtual all-hands meeting is productive is to include everyone in the discussion. That means giving everyone a chance to contribute by asking questions or sharing ideas. One exercise you can practice is to have each team member contribute their top priority for each day and share it with the team. Even if a team member has a conflict and cannot attend, they should still be able to submit an update ahead of time that the rest of the team can read in their absence.

When everyone feels like they have a stake in the conversation, they’re more likely to be invested in the outcome. So don’t be afraid to open things up and give everyone a voice.

But remember, you also want to avoid getting sidetracked or caught up in long conversations. This brings us to the next point.

4. Keep it Short

Sometimes–maybe most of the time–less is more. A shorter meeting will ensure that people don’t lose focus, get bored, or start working on other work while the meeting is still happening. It must be long enough to convey necessary information but not so long that people tune it out.

If a topic requires a longer discussion, it belongs in the “parking lot” to be addressed later in a smaller meeting. It’s rare that all discussions will require the entire team to be there, so this way you are not wasting other team members’ time.

Hint: If the discussion lasts longer than a few minutes, throw it in the lot.

Focus on keeping the meeting short and sweet. Provide a brief update on what’s been going on, share any vital information, and then open up the floor for questions or discussion. Keeping the meeting concise will help everyone stay on track and make the most of their time.

5. Share Company News

Share company news at the start of the all-hands meeting. This helps to set the tone and give everyone a common frame of reference for the discussion. Company news pertains to everyone, so it should garner enough attention right at the start. Use your agenda beforehand to tease out any big news that’s coming and grab their interest immediately. Once you have that attention, try your best not to lose it.

6. Know What Works for Your Team

Businesses and teams of different sizes might be run differently and react better to different structures. It’s critical to know what works best for your team and what type of information they need or even understand the best way to provide that information.

For example, you might want to consider using different types of media to share information (like videos or infographics, or other video conferencing tools) if it’s easier for your team to consume that way.

7. Celebrate Company and Individual Wins

There are a lot of benefits to celebrating company wins. For one, it helps build team morale and boost employee engagement. It also promotes a sense of camaraderie and encourages people to work together towards common goals. And, of course, it’s always nice to have an excuse to celebrate!

Voicing victories provide opportunities for employees to feel proud of their achievements and to show appreciation for their hard work. They also allow managers to recognize individual contributions and thank employees for their dedication.

Ultimately, celebrating company wins is a great way to show that you’re invested in your employees’ success — and that you’re grateful for their efforts.

8. Ask for feedback

One way to help determine if your meetings are achieving their intended goal is to have a survey every once in a while after your meetings. You can check to see if your team is retaining information and get their input on how you could better run the meetings to make them more helpful.

Feedback is a great way to honestly assess what you’re doing and change things if necessary.

At Align, we use a monthly eNPS (Employer Net Promoter Score) survey to pulse-check our organization, give employees a voice, and gather constructive feedback to help frame better decision-making.

9. Reiterate your Core Values

Ending a meeting with your company’s core values can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and is working towards the same goal. Remind your team why they do the work they do, and how everyone has an essential role to play in your company’s success.

This will help to create a more cohesive team that is better able to work together towards a common goal. Ending a meeting with your company’s core values is a simple way to help create a more productive and effective team.

10. Send a Recap

After an all-hands meeting, it’s great practice to follow up with a recap. This ensures that everyone has the same information and knows what action items must be completed. It also allows people to ask questions that they didn’t get a chance to ask at the meeting. The recap should be sent within 24 hours of the meeting, including key points from the discussion and critical next steps. If there are any attachments or multimedia resources, they should be included as well.

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