How to Run an Engaging and Memorable All Hands Meeting

Andy Cook
June 3, 2020

All-hands meetings are arguably the most important meetings your company hosts. They keep your employees updated about your company’s most important information, such as its financial health, current strategy, and future plans.

However, they’re likely the longest meetings your company hosts, too. And meetings that run long have the potential to lull your employees to sleep. So, how do you grip your employees’ attention from start to finish and help them retain all the crucial information that you’ll cover? Here are six ways to do it.

1. Flaunt Your Human Side

As much as your PR team wants you to adopt the persona of a perfectly polished executive, your employees are, first and foremost, human. That means they relate to you the most as a person — not as an upstanding corporate citizen.

So, don’t be afraid to flaunt your personality, especially at the beginning of the meeting. This will warm up your employees and boost their excitement for the rest of the meeting.

Ways that you can do this include being visibly excited to be at the meeting, joking around and keeping things light, and opening up about your personal life in a relatable way (references to your latest Netflix fix are a solid go-to).

2. Explain Why Your Current Strategy Is in Place

According to research from the field of neuroscience, stories boost the brain’s neural activity fivefold, exponentially increasing people’s ability to remember information. Stories also trigger the release of oxytocin in the brain, causing people to empathize with the characters in a story.

Put simply, storytelling is the most effective way to sear information into people’s brains and resonate emotionally with them. So by telling the story behind your current strategy, your employees will not only give you their undivided attention but also understand and appreciate your strategy more. These are both things you want to happen while persuading your employees to buy into your current strategy.

If you need help telling the story behind your current strategy, let’s take a look at a story’s seven fundamental elements:

  • Exposition: The hero’s status quo.
  • Inciting incident: An event that creates a pressing problem in the hero’s life.
  • Progressive complications: Hurdles that crop up along the hero’s journey of solving their problem.
  • Turning point: A revelation that makes the hero realize what they actually need to do to succeed.
  • Crisis: A hard decision that will either lead the hero down the path toward success or failure.
  • Climax: The hero makes the decision that’s required to succeed, and it changes his worldview.
  • Resolution: The hero stays a changed person forever.

Follow this story structure and you’ll captivate your employees’ attention.

3. Cover Your Company’s Financial Performance

Humans have a psychological bias that makes them more ambiguity-averse than risk-averse. That’s why swimming in a vast, empty ocean can be more frightening than seeing a sting ray next to you. If a sting ray swims by, you have a good idea of what’s going to happen. It’s not the best possible outcome, but you understand the risk.

However, if there’s nothing around, you have no idea what’s going to happen. And this instantly triggers thoughts that the worst possible outcome is on the horizon, which could be something worse than a sting ray sting — like a shark bite.

In the working world, keeping important information under wraps is like dropping employees in the middle of an ocean. If you don’t shed light on your financial health, your employees will automatically think of the worst possible outcome.

Fortunately, providing as much information as possible about your financial performance is like sending a lifeboat to your employees. It clears up this ambiguity, reassures employees that their jobs are safe, and makes them feel more stable at work.

4. Peel Back the Curtain on Your Future Plans

Offering a glimpse into your company’s future plans boosts your employees’ excitement and morale. But doing so requires some tact. To get your employees to understand your future strategy and then buy into it, tell the story behind it, just like you did with your current strategy. However, you don’t need to go into too much detail about the actual strategy side of things. Just cover the most important information. You can dive into its nuances when it becomes your current strategy.

Also, peel back the curtain toward the end of your all-hands meeting. People will leave feeling excited about the future and eager to start working toward it.

5. Carve Out Time for Q&A

Carving out time for Q&A during your all-hands meeting allows your company to honor your commitment to transparency and, in turn, earn your employees’ trust and respect. Leave around 10-15 minutes at the end of your meeting so your employees can put you on the hot seat.

You also want to make sure that your remote employees can participate in the Q&A session. To include them in the conversation, give them access to a live feed, and dedicate a chunk of time for them to ask questions.

If your employees would rather anonymously ask questions, let them submit their queries through a Google Form. That said, answer all of the questions asked. Don’t cherry-pick them to avoid tough questions or put your company in a more positive light than it’s actually in.

6. Record Your All-Hands Meeting

Recording every single all-hands meeting and storing them in your internal knowledge base gives any employees who were out of the office or who want to reference one later access to them. Fortunately, with Tettra, you can embed your Wistia-hosted videos onto wiki pages. From there, you can create a category or subcategory of all of your all-hands meetings.

You should also consider storing every meeting’s slide deck in these categories/subcategories. Using Tettra, you can embed your Google Slides and Prezi presentations onto each wiki page.

Running an All-Time All-Hands Meeting

Your company’s all-hands meetings can either be the ones everyone genuinely enjoys attending, or they can lull everyone to sleep. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make these events engaging for your employees. And these six tips can help you do so.