What is a Virtual All-Hands Meeting and How To Host One

Picture of Ben Aflalo
Ben Aflalo

Head of Product at Gloww

What is an All-Hands On Meeting

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with business meetings. Constant catch-ups that bring nothing new to the table cost valuable time and money. Meanwhile, some project reviews are packed with information that goes way over the heads of many people attending. However, all-hands meetings are one thing you can’t cut corners on, especially if your business is operating virtually.

What is an all hands-on meeting mentality going to do for you? To be a successful business, you need to be thinking about more than the bottom line. You need to establish a company culture that’s open and transparent, welcoming input from employees from every step of the organizational ladder. Your teams also need to stay aligned with company goals, so keeping them in the loop about urgent updates and major announcements is a must. With an all-hands meeting, you can see to all of this and more.

What is a Virtual All-Hands Meeting? 

All-hand meetings are used by many businesses as a way of bringing everyone within an organization together. Meeting participants can include everyone from stakeholders and senior management, right down to the newest recruit. Unlike morning huddles or weekly catch-up meetings, the agenda of an all-hands meeting is usually focused on important topics that impact the wider company. 

Whether it’s a meeting to discuss an exciting new opportunity or a more serious discussion about less favorable developments, the aim of an all-hands meeting remains the same. These company-wide get-togethers ensure everybody is kept in the loop, without having to depend on countless email chains and the chance that something could get lost in translation. 

When they’re deployed successfully, virtual all-hands meetings can help you create a sense of community with your business. Everyone has a chance to say what’s on their mind and ask questions during an in-house meeting. This degree of openness is very appealing to employees, especially remote ones. If you’re struggling to engage workers now that you’re operating online, all-hands meetings are a powerful tool for team building and can be used to boost productivity. For other ideas on how to engage online employees, have a look at our articles on fun Friday activities, but also employee appreciation ideas, to make sure your employees are as motivated as ever.

What Are All-Hands Meetings Used For? 

If you have big business news to share, it makes sense to schedule an all-hands meeting. As everyone is present with the entire corporate structure represented, they’re completely transparent. This is ideal for creating a sense of community, which is often missing from companies that work exclusively online. 

You get to remove the anonymity that often comes with online-only businesses. Your employees have a chance to put faces to names, particularly those of senior stakeholders and executives they rarely interact with. 

There’s also less scope for employees to feel isolated when they’re brought together for an all-hands meeting. Happier employees who feel more connected to their colleagues and the company as a whole are more likely to remain loyal for longer. As well as boosting retention rates, this connection can spark collaboration. This is useful for strengthening existing teams and getting interdepartmental ones to start thinking about the bigger picture. 

If you’re unveiling key updates or revealing a big announcement, an all-hands meeting can unify your workforce. This bureaucratic approach to meetings allows you to rally your teams and boost morale. With everybody on the same page, it’s easier to respond to urgent issues that demand attention or achieve major project milestones more comfortably. 

Furthermore, virtual all-hands meetings are very cost-effective. Not only are in-person events expensive, they require considerable planning to pull off. You’ll also be pulling key workers away from essential tasks, with important projects left in limbo and client emails unread. Virtual all-hands meeting costs are negligible, while employees don’t have to clear huge gaps in their schedule to attend. Are your remote teams scattered across the globe? If the answer is yes, an online all-hands meeting is the only option that makes sense. 

What Does a Virtual All-Hands Meeting Agenda Include? 

Thinking of kicking off an all-hands meeting without preparing an agenda? You’re asking for trouble. An agenda keeps things focused on the topics that need to be discussed and without one, essential information might be missed. Agendas also give attendees a point of reference, helping them stay engaged. 

No two all-hands meeting agendas are identical and you’ll have to make minor changes to the structure every time you get around to hosting one. However, most virtual all-hands meeting agendas will include the following:

  • A brief welcome address by the person who’s hosting the meeting. You might also want to include an icebreaker here to lighten the mood.
  • An introduction to the meeting agenda that outlines all the key topics that are going to be discussed that day.
  • A shout-out to any new recruits to ease them into their new roles and encourage meeting participation.
  • A summary of important company news, updates, and announcements. This creates a sense of community and cohesion.
  • A mention of any major wins and success stories. You’ll also want to underline urgent priorities and provide project updates.
  • A special mention of any employees or teams that have performed particularly well recently.
  • A succinct closing statement that underlines the key takeaways from the meeting.

15 Steps for Hosting a Great Virtual All-Hands Meeting 

Never hosted an all-hands meeting virtually before? Don’t panic, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your next event runs smoothly. 

1. Set Clear Objectives

Before you start drafting your agenda, you need to decide what topics need to be covered during an all-hands meeting. What major milestones has your company reached recently? Are there any big developments in the pipeline? Do you need to inform your workforce about any shakeups to corporate structure? Once you’ve determined what the overall goal of your meeting is, decide who you want to chair the meeting itself. Ideally, this should be a person who’s moderated an all-hands meeting before. 

2. Schedule Meetings Regularly 

One of the major benefits of virtual all-hands meetings is that they take up relatively time. As you won’t be pulling your teams away from their desks for too long, you can schedule all-hands meetings fairly regularly. Have another look at your meeting objectives and decide how often you need to bring your teams together to update them on progress. 

3. Choose the Right Time

Although virtual meetings are fairly flexible, you still need to choose a time that works for everyone. With an international workforce, this can be a little challenging, but by no means impossible. Reach out to your teams to find out what time and date works best for them. It’s a good idea to aim for a lunchtime meeting window. Clients are less likely to bother your employees around this time, while there’s more overlap between time zones later in the day. 

4. Use the Right Platform 

If you’re running an all-hands meeting virtually, you’ll need a reliable platform. With Gloww, you’ll find all the tools you need to deliver an interactive all-hands meeting to remember. Ready-made templates make planning simple, while you can enhance engagement by incorporating multimedia assets, quizzes, live polls, word clouds, and more. Check out our purple all-hands template.

5. Create an Agenda

Make a final decision on what’s going to be covered during the meeting. Ensure you’re capturing key announcements, major news, and project updates. You’ll need to source any supporting material you plan on using, as well as finalize a running order for your meeting. 

6. Engage Your Audience

There’s no point in hosting an all-hands meeting if nobody is paying attention. You can increase engagement by making your event more interactive. Get things rolling with an icebreaker and introduce games and collaborative activities to keep everyone focused on what’s being covered. Live polls and surveys are particularly handy when broadcasting to large groups. You can even incorporate music activities, or some trivia games to keep things fun.

7. Recognize Achievements

An all-hands meeting is the perfect time for your company to give itself a pat on the back. Have you broken sales records this quarter? Perhaps you’ve secured a lucrative new deal with a major client. This kind of information can be shared with your employees to give them an insight into the health of the business and stir up enthusiasm. You can also recognize the achievements of individuals or teams within your company. 

8. Share Updates

Make sure everyone is working toward a common goal by keeping them in the loop regarding the state of your business. Essential updates and announcements should get priority during an all-hands meeting. It’s also a good idea to include updates specific to certain projects. You’re providing a wider insight into the workings of the company, while also encouraging cross-departmental cooperation. 

9. Invite Guest Speakers

Relying on the same moderator for every meeting can become a little stale over time. To keep things fresh, think about using guest speakers. The more diverse a presenting group is, the more engaging your meetings will be. If you want to bring in external guest speakers, just make sure you’re allotting plenty of time in your schedule for them to present.

10. Practice Transparency 

Just by hosting an all-hands meeting, you’re being a more transparent business. However, you can go further here. It’s worth including a Q&A session at the end of your meeting to allow employees to come forward with queries. By being upfront and honest with your teams, you’re letting them know that their voice matters and that you’re a trustworthy employer. 

11. Keep it Concise 

Meeting times can vary considerably, but it’s a good idea to keep individual meeting sections as brief as possible to maintain interest and engagement. A welcome address can be done and dusted within a minute, while those news and updates can be reeled off in a couple of minutes. You can spend a little more time spotlighting achievements, expressing employee appreciation and going into detail regarding the status of current projects. Ideally, try and keep these sections within 10 minutes. 

12. Use Visuals

The more detail you can give your audience, the better. There’s only so much information a speaker can present verbally, so use visuals to strengthen your message and give context to what’s being covered. By using visuals, you can also cover more ground in less time. 

13. Prepare for Technical Issues

Technical issues are often unavoidable. Test out the platform you’re using before the meeting itself to pinpoint any unanticipated problems. You also need to check that attendees have access to reliable internet connections and the hardware they need to join the meeting. Here’s how to record a meeting, as well as live stream it.

14. Gather Feedback 

Use an end-of-meeting Q&A session to get instant feedback from attendees about agenda topics. If you want to find out what people thought about the meeting as a whole, send out a survey via email at a later point. You can use your findings to make changes to future meetings. 

15. Show Gratitude 

Reinforce the idea that you’re a company that cares with a powerful closing statement. Congratulating your teams on their continued hard work and thanking everybody for attending costs you nothing but will boost morale and drive productivity. 

Searching for the Perfect Platform for All-Hands Meetings? 

All-hands meetings are an effective way of aligning your entire workforce, encouraging collaboration, and letting everyone from the individual to an entire department know they’re valued. Virtual all-hands meetings are both cost-effective and easy to organize, letting you engage every last member of your operation with the information they need to know about. 

Looking to host your first all-hands meeting virtually? With Gloww, you’ve got the ideal platform for hosting one. Get started today and discover an extensive library of templates or create your own all-hands meeting session from scratch. You can add games to make your event more interactive or bring in multimedia assets to make those big meeting topics more accessible. Do you want to find out more about Gloww’s advanced features? Explore our pricing tiers to find what’s possible. Got a question about the platform? Get in touch with the team. 

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Picture of ben aflalo
ben aflalo

Ben Aflalo heads Gloww's product team with over two decades of leadership experience. Passionate about leveraging innovative technology, he is committed to building products for the greater good.

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