Ed Stevens is the founder and CEO of Preciate, a revolutionary platform for virtual meetings and events, geared toward dynamic human experiences and relationship-building. He is deeply committed to helping others build strong, authentic relationships with the power of technology. He has a B.A. from Stanford University. For more information, visit preciate.com.
The announcement of an upcoming all-hands meeting is not always met with an overwhelmingly excited and positive response. On the contrary, people may start getting creative with reasons to bow out of participation. All-hands meetings have the reputation of lacking valuable interaction, lacking feeling and not working well in a hybrid environment. Many junior employees may feel like it’s simply upper management and executives talking at them, and it’s not a productive gathering that creates interactive energy among all ranks of employees.
There are ways of improving the all-hands meeting experience. Amid the post-pandemic “New Normal,” where many offices have gone permanently fully remote, or at the very least hybrid, the whole make-up of an all-hands meeting should undergo some manner of change.
Any successful all-hands meeting should have plenty of preparation. Employees placed in charge of planning this significant event should plot out exactly what topics should be covered, what activities will be a part of the meeting and the ultimate goals of the meeting. Meeting planners should review past all-hands meetings to analyze what worked and what didn’t and apply what they learned to the new meeting plan.
The goal for a successful all-hands meeting should be authentic connections between team members that can accelerate business goals. This goal could be seen as difficult to come by in a virtual environment. Luckily, there are alternatives to Zoom and Webex that offer a more lifelike experience for virtual meetings, including the ability to move around, network and mingle, just as you would do in real life, leading to successful outcomes.
Properly scheduling an all-hands meeting for when they are truly necessary is of the utmost importance. If a company is calling mandatory “all-hands” meetings every time an employee turns around, the employees will eventually lose interest in the meeting’s objectives. Employees need to know that these meetings mean something and are essential to running the business as a whole.
Larger companies with employees spread far and wide should take special care with their all-hands meeting scheduling. Many remote or hybrid organizations have teams across multiple time zones, making scheduling that works for everyone an uphill battle. Meetings should be scheduled for when all participants are awake, energized and ready to participate for optimal outcomes.
All-hands meetings should offer focused content for attendees that is helpful to keep your team aware of. Any important business changes, challenges or successes are great things to share. All hands are also a great opportunity to do company-wide recognition for the all stars who deserve extra praise. Without straightforward content or purpose, the people facilitating the meeting run the risk of losing the interest or engagement of their audience.
A fun, upbeat atmosphere is one part of all-hands meetings that people may expect and enjoy, and yet, creativity can often suffer in a virtual meeting environment. When a better connection is fostered, the music is great, and the creative juices are allowed to flow in breakout rooms, great things can happen for businesses amid realistic mingling.
Creativity can be kicked into high gear by kicking off your meeting with an interactive icebreaker activity. Creative icebreakers can include playing a “Getting to Know You” type game or breaking into smaller groups, mixing up the different departments of an organization so people can get to know those they may not work with regularly.
People who have innovated and had successes since the last all-hands meeting should be celebrated to encourage and inspire other employees. Everybody loves to be recognized for their hard work, and a friendly competitive spirit can quickly be generated.
Allowing employees to ask questions and get thorough answers from leadership should be part of any all-hands meeting. In a virtual environment, this can be challenging without the right platform to facilitate a smooth back and forth.
When so much information is disseminated throughout a meeting, there will be questions. Meeting planners should set aside a reasonable amount of time for the question-and-answer period to assure everyone is on the same page.
One issue with in-person all-hands meetings can be the issue of inclusive participation between the junior employees and executives. Meeting planners will want to work hard to open communication between all employees, from those who are lowest on the totem pole to the highest-ranking executive.
Virtual meetings need to draw people in by serving the needs of all attendees. If a virtual meeting offers a more inclusive and equitable, relaxed environment, attendees are more likely to feel like their needs were met and heard.
As we begin to come out on the other side of the pandemic, many companies that were all in-person pre-COVID are choosing to maintain an all-remote or hybrid environment. Countless studies proved that remote workers were just as productive as they had been in the office, and companies realize the cost-savings benefits of remote or hybrid offices.
Hybrid environments can experience an uphill battle with planning all-hands meetings. Their solution to a splintered office setting is often to hold two meetings. However, a multiple meeting approach further perpetuates a disconnect between team members.
It can be challenging to maintain a cohesive team environment when working remotely or even with a hybrid setup. Team leaders have to be far more intentional than in a face-to-face office environment. All-hands meetings are far more successful when authentic relationships have been fostered between leaders and their employees. If the only “facetime” an employee has had with their team leader has been on a stagnant video-conferencing platform, it can make cohesion a struggle.
Look for a platform that can help companies revolutionize their all-hands meetings, take the virtual meeting space to the next level, and allow for effective and fun meeting experiences that employees will actually look forward to attending.
A more authentic communication platform increases employee engagement, performance and retention by breaking down the awkward walls of stagnant video-conferencing platforms. Meetings through a powerful platform are more like face-to-face interaction. Leaders can get to know their employees, and this improved communication leads to better, more fruitful all-hands meetings.
Employees should feel secure in the fact that when an all-hands meeting is called, it is for a good reason. They should be aware of the meeting’s goals, and leadership should be transparent about the topics that are to be covered and the objectives of the meeting.
By relying on a robust virtual-meeting platform, organizations can create all-hands meetings that invigorate the workplace and make them excited for what the company has achieved and what may be coming down the pipeline. By leaning on technological innovation in the meeting space, organizations can work to end the stigma that all-hands meetings have, and facilitate exciting events that invigorate the whole company. C&IT