All-hands meetings are, first and foremost, about getting everyone on the same page. But after your company’s leadership teams have shared last quarter’s stats, personnel announcements and new initiatives, what’s left to accomplish? At this point, you’ve spent significant time and money getting everyone to the same location (or able to tune in remotely via video conferencing software). You want to create a dynamic group experience that makes it all worth it.
Building community should be your other priority when it comes to hosting highly effective all-hands meetings. Beyond the bar graphs, the keynote speeches and the state-of-the-union addresses, you want to leave each and every employee with a lasting impression of belonging, creativity and camaraderie—also known as what differentiates your company from any other place they could work.
Here are four ideas for building community during all-hands meetings.
Share Large and Small Goals
Businesses juggle different kinds of goals on a daily basis: sales, growth, marketing, HR, etc. But sometimes the data fragments them, making certain goals seem applicable to only one team or department. That’s why an all-hands meeting is the perfect chance to really dig into these goals by sharing and making them more accessible to the group at large.
For example, let’s say an employee sitting in the audience has no idea how their department really relates to another. After all, on a daily basis, their workflows tend to be separate and their interactions are seldom. Having a frank, inclusive discussion about goals at an all-hands meeting (including testimony from different levels within the organization) can help break down these barriers. Suddenly the employee can witness the interdependence it takes to accomplish goals—for individuals, teams, departments and the overall corporation.
Host a Thoughtful Q&A Session
Question and answer sessions are a mainstay of all-hands meetings. But passing around a microphone and asking for impromptu questions may cause some thoughtful inquiries and explanations to slip through the cracks. Avoid putting speakers and listeners on the spot by collecting questions ahead of time, identifying the most pressing subjects and turning those submissions into impactful discussion prompts. You’ll be doing everyone a favor by cutting out awkward silences, ad-libbing and convoluted questions that can occur with spur-of-the-moment Q&A sessions.
Utilize Visual Collaboration
Seeing is believing, sometimes. There’s something about a great visual aid that sticks in our brains long after words have faded. When you’re building community, focus on what your employees are seeing just as much as what they’re hearing.
For example, let’s say that you’ve just wrapped up an important group discussion or break-out session and want to reflect. You can go around and ask the audience how they’re feeling, sure. But those responses won’t necessarily “pop” enough to evoke a lasting emotional response. Using a tool like a word cloud generator, on the other hand, allows each and every audience member to submit an answer through their mobile device. Suddenly you have a visual aid to reflect upon projected for everyone to see, one that changes as the answers roll in. Employees can see that others feel the same way as them—or vastly differently. This interactive and visual element helps sum up where everyone stands, which is an important pillar of community.
Have Fun with Group Bonding
Town hall meetings are important for relaying facts, figures and objectives. But who said they can’t be fun? As Business Insider reports, Etsy has employees “open” for all-hands meetings on instruments much like a concert and hosts an annual talent show, among other performative activities. As one employee says, “You feel a personal connection with the people up there, but also with the people in the room experiencing it with you.” In other words, having some fun and letting employees show off hobbies that they pursue outside of work is a great icebreaker.
There are many ways to build community during all-hands meetings. Try thinking outside the box and bringing people together; it will positively affect how employees feel about their jobs and each other.