What you need to ace the all-hands meeting

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
September 13, 2023
A graphic with the text "ace the all-hands"
What you need to ace the all-hands meeting
Written by 
Bryan Kitch
September 13, 2023

All-hands meetings, also known as town hall meetings, are an essential part of effective communication and collaboration within organizations. These meetings bring together employees from all levels and departments to align on goals, share updates, and foster a sense of unity.

Most importantly, they should be engaging.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of acing the all-hands meeting, teach you how to drive better engagement with mindful planning, and give you ten tips on how you can make an all-hands meeting your teams will remember.

What is an all-hands meeting?

An all-hands meeting is a company-wide gathering where employees come together to receive updates, share information, and engage in open discussions. It is an opportunity for leadership to communicate important messages, celebrate wins, and address any concerns or questions from the team.

The term "all-hands" originated from the idea that everyone in the organization should be present, regardless of their role or position.

Mural holds a company-wide all-hands meeting every two weeks. While we’re fans of this regular cadence, an all-hands has value even if it’s held only for special announcements or to highlight a specific team or initiative. For distributed or hybrid teams, all-hands are even more critical, uniting your whole team no matter where they work. 

Mural's bi-weekly all-hands meetings aren't above a celebratory dance break.

However, putting together an effective all-hands isn’t easy. And because they include everyone, they’re one of the most expensive meetings you can hold. Making the most of the event — and your investment in it — is paramount.

Why you should be holding all-hands meetings

At its very core, your all-hands meeting should aim to align on company goals, share updates, and foster unity across the organization. Here are some benefits you may receive when you run your next all-hands meeting:

Create organization-wide alignment

All-hands meetings provide a platform for leaders to communicate the company's vision, mission, and strategic goals. By aligning everyone around a common purpose, employees can understand how their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture.

Improve transparency

Transparency is crucial for building trust and fostering a positive work environment. All-hands meetings allow leaders to share updates on company performance, challenges, and future plans, creating a culture of openness and honesty.

Build company culture

All-hands meetings provide an opportunity to reinforce company values, recognize employee achievements, and celebrate milestones. By showcasing the company's culture, these meetings help foster a sense of community and pride among employees.

💡 Related: How to Improve Company Culture: A Step-by-Step Guide

Celebrate wins and milestones

Recognizing and celebrating achievements is essential for boosting morale and motivation. All-hands meetings offer a platform to acknowledge individual and team successes, creating a positive and supportive atmosphere.

Create a feedback loop

All-hands meetings should not be one-way communication. They should encourage employees to provide feedback, ask questions, and share ideas. This feedback loop helps leaders understand the pulse of the organization and make informed decisions.

💡 Check out Mural’s feedback grid template to get a head start organizing notes and comments from your team

How to plan a great all-hands meeting

To build a great system for all-hands meetings, you should:

Sort out your tools in advance

Choose the right technology platform to host your meeting, ensuring that everyone can easily access and participate. Tools like Mural and Microsoft Teams can facilitate collaboration and engagement during the meeting.

Keep your agenda simple

Less is more when it comes to all-hands meetings. Focus on the most important updates and discussions to keep the meeting concise and engaging.

Creating your agenda — what to include in an all-hands meeting

When designing your all-hands meeting agenda, consider including the following elements:

  • Welcome and introduction
  • Company updates and announcements
  • Team and individual achievements
  • Key performance metrics
  • Q&A session
  • Shout-outs and recognition
  • Future plans and initiatives

Example all-hands agenda items

What you include in your all-hands-on-deck meeting is really up to you, but this is what we might add to the agenda when it's relevant:

  • Company announcements — like hiring a new exec, organizational changes, acquisitions, or completed rounds of funding
  • Celebrating milestones (growth, revenue, customers, years in business, etc.)
  • Sharing new company-wide initiatives (especially at the start of a quarter) as well as updates on current initiatives 
  • Giving executives the floor to make statements around big-picture goals and market trends
  • Giving individual employees or teams the floor to highlight initiatives and projects that all employees should know about
  • Inviting customers to share their experiences with your products and services
  • Inviting external partners and consultants to speak on high-priority topics

Do a practice run

Rehearse the meeting with your team to iron out any technical issues, ensure smooth transitions, and familiarize everyone with the flow of the meeting.

10 tips for running your next company all-hands

1. Meet regularly and at the same time

Consistency is key. Establish a regular meeting cadence for your all-hands and stick to it. This helps employees anticipate and prepare for the meeting.

If your company is remote or adopted a hybrid work environment, be sure to schedule time that accommodates as many employee time zones as possible. You may not be able to get it perfect, but this shows your employees how much you value your time. Record your all-hands and share it with the company in Slack or your company messaging platform of choice.

2. Engage your participants with a warm-up

Start the meeting with an icebreaker or a fun activity to energize the participants and create a positive atmosphere. The goal is to get everyone feeling relaxed and ready to dive into the “meat” of the meeting. These warm ups really go a long way to create a sense of connection and common experience even if your company is meeting in a virtual environment with hundreds of people.

What are warm-ups?
Online warm-ups are short exercises performed at the beginning of a meeting to introduce new team members, conquer awkwardness, and help teammates get to know each other.

3. Have a dedicated moderator to track time and facilitate

Assign someone to keep track of time, manage the flow of the meeting, and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate.

4. Consolidate the tools you use during the all-hands

Streamline the technology platforms used during the meeting to avoid confusion and technical difficulties. Tools like Mural and Microsoft Teams can integrate seamlessly to provide a cohesive and interactive experience for all participants.

5. Keep it visual

Utilize visual aids such as slides, charts, and graphics to enhance understanding and engagement. Visual elements help convey information more effectively and keep participants focused.

💡 Related: Up your presentation game with Mural [on-demand webinar]

6. Lead with transparency

Share both positive and challenging updates with honesty and transparency. This fosters trust and demonstrates that leadership values open communication.

7. Align the all-hands to company priorities

Ensure that the content of the meeting aligns with the company's strategic priorities. This helps employees understand how their work contributes to the overall goals of the organization.

8. Allow time for teams to share shout-outs and recognition

Dedicate a portion of the meeting for teams or individuals to recognize and appreciate each other's efforts. This boosts morale and reinforces a culture of appreciation.

9. Include time for a Q&A

Encourage employees to ask questions and provide feedback during the meeting. This creates an interactive environment and allows for clarification on important topics. Leaders from different departments may be best suited to answer different questions, so try having a panel of team leaders present who can speak to a variety of topics.

10. Follow up after the all-hands with recordings, action items, and employee kudos

Share a recording of the meeting with the entire company, along with any action items or next steps discussed. Additionally, recognize outstanding contributions or achievements publicly to motivate and inspire others.

How Mural runs our company all-hands meetings

At Mural, we understand the importance of effective all-hands meetings in driving collaboration and engagement.

We leverage visual work platforms like Mural and Microsoft Teams to create an interactive and visually engaging experience for our employees. Our meetings are designed to align everyone around our company's vision, celebrate wins, and foster a culture of transparency and feedback.

Tips for using Mural in your all-hands meetings

Note that the unique capabilities of MURAL make it particularly well-suited for running an all-hands with multiple speakers. For example:

  • “Nesting” — content can be added right on the mural, so everything shared is easy to find
  • Easy ability to zoom in and out — jump from “big picture” to details like key numbers and trends
  • Quick navigation between “slides” — no need to flip back and forth within a presentation. Using the outline function in MURAL also makes it easy to organize sections of the mural (even making certain sections private until that moment of the meeting).
  • Fun! — using visuals and especially animated GIFs (Mural has an integration with GIPHY) make the mural feel like a living place, a space where things are happening. All meetings are more engaging when they’re fun.
  • Timers Using timers on the mural can help keep presenters moving along and the meeting on schedule.

Design your next all-hands to unlock teamwork

By implementing the tips and best practices mentioned above, you can design your next all-hands meeting to unlock the full potential of teamwork within your organization. A well-planned and executed all-hands meeting can create alignment, improve transparency, build company culture, and drive employee engagement.

Acing the all-hands meeting is crucial for effective communication and collaboration within organizations. By understanding the purpose and benefits of these meetings, planning them thoughtfully, and implementing best practices, you can drive better engagement, create alignment, and achieve more impact.

Bringing your whole organization together is no easy task. It takes a lot of planning and preparation. The results — cross-company awareness, camaraderie, shared understanding, and even culture — are well worth it.

If you’re interested in trying an all-hands with Mural, grab this all-hands template. This will give you a starting point, which you can customize however you need.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.