written by
Carsten Pleiser

8 Simple Tips For Planning An Effective All Hands Meeting

Meeting Planning 6 min read

If you've ever been tasked with planning an all hands meeting, you know it can be a tough nut to crack.

Many all-hands meetings can be extremely dull, at least for those who have to attend. Others can be super fun, engaging & interactive.

Even if planning meetings & events is not your main job, the following tips will help you create efficient & meaningful all-hands meetings that people will remember.

Are you ready? Let's go.

Why Run Regular All-Hands Meetings

All-hands meetings are a fantastic opportunity to bring together your entire workforce, from intern to CEO.

It doesn't matter if you're a five-person start-up or a multi-national conglomerate, all-hands meetings are the perfect way to share information, celebrate achievements, and get your team out of the daily routine.

All-hands meetings also go beyond a Slack announcement and offer far more than the monthly company email round-up.

Great All-hands meetings embrace networking, mingling and thinking creatively about the company's future and its past.

Start With Your Meeting Objectives

Whether the objective is to welcome a new COO, celebrate a big new project or client, or communicate the change of the company's direction, meeting objectives may differ from time to time but are crucial to set right off the bat.

If you're struggling to identify what your meeting objectives might be, ask your boss. The most common objectives for all-hands meetings are:

  • Introducing newcomers to the company
  • Setting and sharing new goals for the company
  • Celebrating milestones, achievements and successes
  • Communicating significant changes within the company
  • Offering an opportunity for teams to network and exchange ideas
  • Uplifting the team spirit
  • Connecting the main office with the remote teams
  • Informing about new projects
  • Motivating and rewarding outstanding performances

Identifying key objectives in the beginning of the planning process is key. This way, you never want to lose focus and you can inform your decisions based around a mutual goal.

For example, your venue decisions, your theme & your agenda will be based around those objectives.

Choose A Meeting Venue That Fits (Literally)

Depending on the company's workforce size team size and if you have remote workers, you can run the meeting within the company (e.g. your conference room) or you can find a suitable meeting venue outside your own walls.

Make sure to select a venue that's easy to reach for everyone. Not only will this save time, money and energy, it will also help you make most of the day. Additionally, it's certainly more sustainable if you don't have to fly everyone in.

When selecting the perfect meeting venue, think outside the box. As an event planner, you're allowed to be creative and as long as you're within your budget, you don't have to limit your venue choice to hotels, conference centers or auditoriums.

Most online venue sourcing platforms also offer a contingent of unique meeting venues. By using these platforms, you'll get access to castles, golf clubs, wine cellars, boats, museums or even tree houses.

Wouldn't a salt mine be the perfect place to talk company direction? Hmm...maybe, maybe not.

No matter if you go for a traditional or rather unique meeting space, it needs to fit in nicely with your meeting goals. Vetting it carefully before signing any contract is key.

Think about the room layout you wish to have, the seating requirements, the AV facilities, the Wifi connectivity and what the food & beverages choices should be.

Related resource: Free venue finding checklist.

Decide On The Meeting Format & Design

The meeting format & meeting design plays a crucial role.

  • How will you structure the day (or days)?
  • What questions should company leaders ask during the meeting and when is it best to do so?
  • What technology will you be using?
  • When will you plan networking?
  • When is the best time for Q&A?
  • When will you announce achievements and rewards (if this is your objective?)

Jot down all activities beforehand to get a clear idea of activities. For example, a short all-hands meeting can be structured like this:

  1. Introduction (5-10 mins)
  2. New Hires & Promotions (10-15 mins)
  3. Talk by company leaders or department updates (15 mins)
  4. Q & A
  5. Discussion / Gamification Elements
  6. Reward & Awards Time
  7. Networking

Depending on the objectives and your budget, you can also have guest speakers or motivational speakers included in your agenda.

Again, it all depends on the objectives.

Avoid 'Death' By Powerpoint

Effective All Hands Meeting - Death By Power Point

Engaging content is key to enhancing engagement during the all-hands meetings.

Drop the PowerPoint slides or Excel sheets and replace them with interactive apps like Glisser or Sli.do.

Showing too much data will, more often than not, bore your attendees. Additionally, it might open a whole new can of worms and backfire with additional questions leaders might not be able to answer on the spot.

Designwise, you might want to invest in a good graphic designer or graphic design service.

The more concise the content is the better it is for your audience. Always be honest with the company's performance & don't hide things, issues or topics that employees want to know about.

If possible, summarise the content through key take-aways and present data in a more visual and easy to understand way.

Test Your Tech. Then Test Again.

(Basically, look after your remote teams)

Planning An All Hands Meeting - Test Your Tech

Don’t forget to involve your remote staff and freelancers/consultants. They are also part of your team or an extension to it.

The best way to avoid tech disasters is to test, test, and test again. Nothing is worse than only hearing the voice and not seeing the face, or even worse, seeing a face speak without the voice. Or the other way around?

Before the meeting commences, speak to your IT team and have a dry run with one of your remote team to check the sound and video quality 10-15 minutes before. Business meetings tools like Zoom can help here and offer a pretty good quality and bandwidth.

Focus On Creating Engagement, Not Lectures

“There’s the risk all-hands meetings turn into a lecture or webinar that nobody wants to attend.” –Cathy Meade, Chief of Staff, Atlassian

In order to avoid all-hands meeting disasters, appoint a moderator who can keep track of the agenda, introduce speakers and run any Q&A sessions during the meeting.

You can also crowdsource q&a questions. A clever way to boost engagement before the meeting is to collect your employee's questions through third-party apps like Slido or Slack. This way, you can gauge the topics your teams wants to learn about or discuss.

By allowing your staff to upvote the most pressing questions ahead of the meeting, you can prepare the content (& the leadership teams).

Great ways to keep your staff engaged during the all-hands meeting is by allowing them to vote interactively through their own mobile phone. Again, most audience engagement tools can help with that.

Always Ask For Feedback

Before finishing the meeting, send out the survey to all employees asking for their honest feedback.

Also ensure that all documents and slide decks used in the presentations are easily accessible to all employees. You can either share it via your internal network or on your team's Google Drive.


All hands meetings provide a chance for everyone to engage, get onboard, celebrate and achieve a set goal. Before starting the planning process, define your meeting objectives and get guidance from your leadership team if necessary.

Technology can be a great enabler when it comes to engagement. It will allow you to collect feedback (even anonymously), run polls, vote, or share slides electronically.

For all your venue finding needs make sure you check out our online venue sourcing & strategic meetings management platform where you can easily find, book and manage your meeting online.

You can also connect with us on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook.

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