We're over meetings. Let's just start with that little flash of honesty.
However, when the right meeting is held at the right time with a thought-out agenda, it can offer true value to a team.
And so we come to the all-hands meeting.
An all-hands meeting can be an incredible motivator for a team to come together, align on objectives, celebrate milestones, and set new goals. But without thoughtful preparation and good facilitation techniques, an all-hands meeting can quickly become just another mundane, mindless status update we all dread.
So, we've come up with the ideal all-hands meeting template to align your team, keep them engaged, and motivate them toward goals to come. Today, we'll walk you through what elements to include in your next all-hands meeting, as well as actionable advice for leading effective meetings to create enthusiasm rather than apathy among team members!
So, what is an all-hands meeting and why should you be having them?
An all-hands meeting is a staff meeting for an entire team, department, or (if you're feeling ambitious) the entire company. These meetings happen infrequently, last for several hours, and include updates, celebrations, and announcements.
Quick Note: All-hands meetings are not the same as town halls. A town hall meeting is primarily a Q&A and while all-hands meetings may include a time for questions, they are more like presentations.
You might be asking why, in this world of too many meetings, you need to have an all-hands meeting.
All-hands meetings give everyone a chance to come together for a set period of time. We're talking about different teams, remote, hybrid, and in-office workers, as well as various departments and leaders.
And because all-hands meetings should have time to praise specific teams or workers and celebrate wins, they're also great for morale.
Finally, these meetings create a culture of transparency and openness. Each team member can feel like they're part of something bigger and as leaders, you'll be able to provide visibility into the company's current performance, goals, and plans for the future.
Before we dive into specifics, here's our version of the perfect all-hands meeting.
If you're looking for a quick way to get your meeting up and running, use our All-Hands Meeting slide deck, which follows the template above.
While the times included in our template are for smaller companies, you can always adjust those according to your size and the goals of your all-hands meeting. We just strongly suggest if you add much more to this template, you add a few breaks, a meal, or even a couple of breakout sessions.
We'll discuss those extras later, but now let's dive into this template!
5 - 10 Minutes
We like to ease into a long meeting, so we suggest you start your all-hands meeting with a check-in and an icebreaker. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to get comfortable with each other, especially if there are remote workers who haven't met in person.
We suggest having a few questions up on the screen for when people enter the room or log on, giving them something to do as you touch base with each other.
Once everyone has arrived or logged on, we suggest rolling straight into an icebreaker. Don't skip this step! Icebreakers have been found to strengthen teams and build relationships, as well as setting the tone for the rest of the meeting.
Taking the 5 extra minutes for an icebreaker will definitely help things run smoother through the rest of your meeting.
The quick Catch Up with Your Crew deck is timely, relaxed, and pre-made so you don't have to think extra about planning.
4 - 6 Minutes
The Company Mission is a way to kick off your all-hands meeting with a big-picture overview.
First, you want to go over where the company currently stands, what it believes in, and what overarching goals the company has in the long term.
You should also use this time to set expectations for the rest of the all-hands meeting. Give an agenda breakdown (including times!) and what the purpose is for gathering together. Sharing the agenda and purpose will help your group feel they aren't wasting their time.
Thankfully, this section can be brief and to the point. Plus, if you have all-hands meetings regularly, the majority of the big-picture overview should stay the same.
15 - 20 Minutes
And here we are! At the bulk of your all-hands meeting.
Sometimes referred to as 'Goal Progress' or 'Meeting Updates', this section is going to take the most amount of time and preparation.
While the Company Mission gives broad strokes, the Retrospective dives deep into each department and team to show what's going on - Company-wide.
Here are a few things you should include:
- Progress on all projects related to the company mission
- The successes, wins, and recognition of specific teams
- Any roadblocks or areas that need more attention for optimization
The presentation for this section should be as interactive as possible because these metrics can get boring very quickly.
We suggest using live polling, word clouds, and even on-topic trivia to keep the Retrospective moving.
If you have all-hands meetings regularly, have all your team leaders prepare short updates you can use as references during the meeting. You can even have those leaders present if you want to delegate.
10 - 15 Minutes
This is the part of your all-hands meeting where all the exciting stuff happens!
Share any recent accomplishments, new hires, promotions, and other newsworthy items.
This is a great time to also get employee feedback on initiatives or potential changes in company culture. You can use our Poll the Audience template to get answers on the spot.
Some of these announcements might not have anything to do with the group specifically, but it's still awesome to share little peaks behind the scenes of the company at large.
If you have any specific people you'd like to celebrate, now is the time. From those who have gone above and beyond to those retiring, this is the time to give specific shout-outs.
Again, you might want to pull in team leaders for this section, as they'll have the best insight into accomplishments within their teams.
10 - 15 Minutes
Depending on how large your all-hands meeting is, this section does tend to get very bloated very fast. So stick to a time limit!
In this section, you can give the group reminders for any upcoming events or big projects. Also, use this time to reiterate any big goals you have between now and the next time you meet.
Finally, and here's where it can get tricky, open up the floor for a Q&A.
The best way to have a concise Q&A is to get questions beforehand. However, we know this isn't always possible. Another option is to use our Word Cloud deck and have the group submit and then vote on the topics they'd like to know more about. This gives the group more control over topics and allows you to narrow down to a few items to discuss further.
Again, you want to respect the time of your group and give them the information they need, but in as tight a timeframe as possible.
We're Slides with Friends! You had to know we'd end this with a game!
Once you're done with all the heavy stuff, end on a light note with one of our many trivia games.
Our suggestion? Who's the Smartest will get the blood pumping and a little competition going as everyone shows off their trivia knowledge.
Our template for an all-hands meeting takes less than 90 minutes (1 hour and 16 minutes, to be precise!), but some teams will need longer to get through everything.
We got you!
This template can easily be adjusted for longer meetings by adding a few additional items between the main 6 above.
Breaks - Incorporate a few bathroom or coffee breaks between presentations to give the group time to stretch their legs.
Lunch - Feed the people! Throw in an extra-long break and feed your group to keep them going for another couple of hours.
Breakout Rooms - Want to delve a little deeper into certain topics? Facilitate breakouts for different teams and groups for increased engagement and interaction.
More Games - You knew it was coming. Play another icebreaker or trivia game whenever your group gets back together to refocus things with a fun little twist.
Happy Hour - If your all-hands meeting is set to last a full day, reward your group with a few drinks at the end. Working remotely? Have everyone grab their own drink and join you for a quick Happy Hour Hang.
By breaking up the 6 sections we covered with these breaks and activities, you can add a little extra oomph to your all-hands meeting without making it feel like a bore.
All-hand meetings are a great way to keep all your teams aligned and motivated. With our all-hands meeting template, you'll be able to ensure everyone is in the loop on news, projects, and goals while having a little bit of fun.
Plus, less work for you, which is what we live for!