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Strategies for a Successful Remote All-Hands Meeting

Strategies for a Successful Remote All-Hands Meeting

In this article, we offer tips for running a remote all-hands meeting that keeps employees updated, helps everyone feel included, and respects everyone’s time.

All-hands meetings can be a powerful tool to align teams and create a forum for exchanging ideas. When there’s an agenda and clear topics to cover, an all-hands can be a valuable meeting, especially for remote employees who may not have as much interaction with their in-office colleagues. Whether you have a hybrid team of 1,000 across multiple countries or five teammates working remotely, getting the remote all-hands meeting right is crucial to a healthy remote company culture.

Getting your next all-hands meeting right may require adjusting how you plan, host, and interact with your team to account for the remote setting. This guide covers strategies you can use to ensure your all-hands meetings are successful.

First, let’s discuss why virtual all-hands meetings are so important in today’s work climate.

Why are Remote All-Hands Meetings Important?

While some companies have fully returned to the office, many businesses have found the remote or hybrid work model improves employee morale and makes it easier to attract top talent. However, collaboration can be a challenge in a remote setting. When colleagues can’t pop over to someone’s desk to ask a question or stop for a quick chat in the break room, leaders must find ways to foster communication.

The remote all-hands meeting presents an opportunity to unite teams for a shared experience and encourages collaboration and inclusion long after the meeting is over. They also make sharing information with your entire team easier and help increase transparency between leadership and employees.

That’s why getting your virtual all-hands meetings right is crucial. There are several benefits:

  • Remote meetings are easier to attend and cost less than flying everyone to a single location.

  • They help build the company culture by sharing wins and celebrating teams that are doing outstanding work.

  • All-hands can help increase collaboration by connecting distributed teams.

  • They can improve inclusion by giving employees a forum to express their views and share ideas.

  • They are a great way to help keep everyone updated and aligned on business goals and priorities.

These meetings are a useful tool for today’s remote workforce, but ensuring they are valuable requires a specific approach.

8 Strategies to Improve Remote All-Hands Meetings

The key to a successful remote all-hands meeting is preparation. Before choosing a date and time, try these tips to harness the power of your next company-wide meeting.

1. Plan and Send Out an Agenda

Before the meeting, send out an agenda explaining what the session will cover, including who will present, the order of topics, and a timeline. Attendees are more likely to attend and pay attention if they know what to expect. In fact, a majority of people say the best way to get them excited about a meeting is to make sure it’s planned well. Agendas also keep the meeting moving forward because you can quickly jump to the next topic. Ask for input before planning the agenda to ensure the meeting covers any topics important to stakeholders.

2. Use Individual Sign-Ins, Not Group Video Conferencing

While group video conferencing can be useful for team collaboration, it isn’t ideal for all-hands meetings. It is harder to see the person speaking and makes participating more difficult when several people use the same video and microphone, such as a group sitting in a conference room with the meeting projected on a screen. Rather than having teams or groups sign in together from a conference room, ask every attendee to sign in from their own computer. This way, they can participate in the chat, and if someone has connection issues, you only lose one person rather than an entire team.

3. Use a Slide Deck Rather Than Switching Between Tools

If your all-hands meeting includes sharing data and milestones, don’t switch from tool to tool. Instead, create a presentation with screenshots of the data or results you want to share.

After all, switching between platforms increases the risk of tech issues interrupting your meeting. You may also waste time finding the data while everyone waits. Instead, create a slide deck with data from your CRM system, analytics platform, or other tools and embed it into the deck.

You can use the speaker’s notes section to list out important points and avoid filling the slide with text. Instead, focus your slides on images and main takeaways. After the meeting, the deck can be shared with attendees and sent out to those unable to join.

4. Mute Attendees on Arrival

We’ve all had it happen: You’re on a call when your dog barks, a delivery person rings your doorbell, or a kid needs attention. With a handful of attendees, these distractions generally aren’t a huge deal. However, those distractions can be overwhelming with dozens (or even hundreds) of attendees.

Make a point to mute all attendees on arrival to limit background noise. Depending on the size and scope of the meeting, you may want to keep most attendees muted and ask them to use the chat function to ask questions.

5. Limit Inside Jokes

Inside jokes are a harmless way to build camaraderie and often happen organically. But in an all-hands meeting, it’s unlikely everyone will understand a joke about how John from HR loves Parks and Recreation. They may not know John at all or be privy to his television watching habits.

While seemingly harmless, these jokes can make people feel like they aren’t part of the team. They may feel left out. Make sure any jokes are easily understood by all, and instead of including inside jokes, look for other ways to shake up your meeting agenda, like playing music at the start of the meeting or sharing interesting industry news.

6. Set Aside Time for Questions

Too often, all-hands meetings feel like information overload. While sharing goals and milestones with the entire team is important, make time for attendees to ask questions. There are three benefits of setting aside time for a Q and A session:

  • First, you avoid interruptions by asking everyone to hold their questions until the end.

  • Second, it helps people feel like they have a voice and may help you better understand your team.

  • Third, it can help foster transparency.

You can also have attendees submit questions ahead of time, put them in the chat, or ask impromptu questions during the call. Making at least part of the meeting interactive also makes the meeting more engaging.

7. Take Care with Teambuilding Exercises

Teambuilding exercises are a good way to build camaraderie and company culture, but there are several challenges to including them in a remote all-hands meeting. For starters, all-hands meetings are often large, so hosting a teambuilding exercise could take up a substantial portion of the meeting time. Additionally, teambuilding can be uncomfortable for introverted or shy team members. If you choose to include teambuilding activities, consider using breakout rooms where attendees can interact with a smaller group, and consider making them an optional, post-meeting event.

8. Use Surveys to Get Feedback

The best way to improve your remote meetings is to ask attendees for feedback. Send out a survey after the meeting and request input. Did the meeting feel valuable? Was there a topic they were hoping would be addressed? Did the meeting feel too long or too short? Ask for suggestions to help make your next meeting even better. While you can’t please everyone, you can still learn ways to help these meetings be valuable and worth the time.

When remote all-hands meetings are done well, they bring your team together and help build a stronger bond. Adjusting the format and planning in advance helps ensure your virtual meetings are valuable to both the hosts and attendees.

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