How to run an all-hands meeting

All-hands meetings increase productivity, motivation and teamwork. Committing to a joint goal is easier when everyone is in the same place.

Here are three practical tips on how to arrange an all-hands meeting.

1) Make sure you budget enough. Travel expenses may be the biggest expense. Usually it makes sense to organize the meeting in a place where everybody can fly easily with the fewest stops. Other than that it is not necessary to overspend; people are there to network and learn and not to experience the most fabulous hotel.

2) Make sure there is time for being together socially. It is easy for an ambitious CEO to fill the whole day with presentations and programs. But plenty of time should be left for ad-hoc discussions and meetings. These improve team spirit and make the organization more coherent.

3) Concentrate on short presentations, for example eight minute lightning talks, which give a chance to cover many topics and get more engagement.

Turn your all hands meeting into an annual tradition for your company to strengthen the culture. You will see a significant increase in productivity and team spirit.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Startup and growth companies organize all-company meetings for a very good reason. An employee who is highly motivated is much-much more productive than one who’s just ordinarily motivated. By getting everybody together in the same place you increase the motivation of everybody. Teamwork improves, and very importantly, company culture gets solidified and improved.

It’s easier to commit to a joint goal when you are all in the same place, especially in this world where we have so much of business happening digitally and in a distributed fashion. When you get everybody together, that’s the moment to exchange commitments, and build and strengthen the value of the company.

Some practical tips on how to do this if you’re doing it for the first time.

Number one is, make sure that you budget for the all-company meeting, and make sure that you budget for the travel expense, which might be the biggest one. Usually it makes sense to organize it in a place where everybody can fly easily with the fewest stops, but other than that, don’t spend too much money. People are getting together to spend time with each other, not for anything else, so you don’t need to overspend on program. You need good facilities and nice program, but you don’t have to overspend.

My other tip is: Make sure there is time for socially being together. It’s easy for an ambitious CEO to fill the whole day with presentations and programs and what not, but you must leave time for people to meet ad-hoc, to just sit down and chat, to organize small meetings here and there. When you do that, the team spirit will become stronger and more coherent.

My third piece of advice is around the agenda. Again as an ambitious CEO, and I surely made the mistake myself, we had long presentations on strategy and company direction. That’s too much in today’s world. It’s better to make very small presentations. One year in a company we did every single presentation as a so-called lightning talk. The lightning talks were 8 minutes long, no more. If you spoke for longer than that, you were just cut, and the next one would step up on stage, so 8 minute long presentations. People get very excited, if they are interested, they can go up to the speaker afterwards and discuss more. In one day, or in just a few hours, you can cover a lot of topics, and you get more engagement, because more people are speaking.

When you build the agenda, build it loosely enough, and make sure you have short enough presentations, because in today’s hectic world, a presentation that’s an hour long, or even 45 minutes, that’s a very-very long presentation.

Do this and turn it to an annual, or even more frequent tradition for your company to get everybody together, to build a team spirit, to strengthen the culture, and to be together with those you’re working with, and you’ll see a big increase in productivity and team spirit.

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