I advise every new manager to hold a regular all-hands meeting with their team. I have been doing a weekly sync with my team since 2015. Throughout this time, the meeting format changed quite a bit.
Recently, a comment by one of our employees during a semester review triggered me to rethink the format once again. He told me the meeting was becoming too much of a routine and added too little value. Why was that? After some thinking, I realized I was not preparing them properly.
The format of a good all-hands meetings
Everyone has their own style of storytelling, but I think there are some basic rules you need to stick to keep your team engaged in the meeting.
Rule 1: Make it short
Make them limited in time. Mine vary from 10 to 15 minutes. Remember that your entire team is attending this call. If you make them much longer, people will get bored.
The longer they take, the easier it will be for them to find excuses to skip them. Additionally, calculate the cost of having everyone attend the call. Do you really want to spend an entire hour at that rate?
Rule 2: The call is mandatory
Our weekly sync is the only mandatory company-wide meeting we have. Use this meeting to communicate matters important to everyone in the audience. Even touch on items that were discussed in a smaller group that are still important for the rest of the team to know about.
Rule 3: Bring the energy
Make sure you jump on a little trampoline before heading into this call. Another little trick is to stand up while you are talking. This will give the call a totally different vibe.
Rule 4: No slides allowed
Don't use slides. They make it boring. Everyone will become distracted from the actual content.
Rule 5: It must be well prepared
I write out the full transcript before heading into the meeting. I don't read it out from the paper, but it helps me make the story. Immediately after the call, I press publish on an internal blog post with all the notes and a link to the recording.
This is exactly where I failed in the past. If you cannot prepare it properly, then don't do it. You are wasting everyone's time.
Content is king
Obviously, every business is different, so your content will vary. By outlining the topics we cover, I hope you get inspired to craft your own call.
Every week I go over the planned holidays for the coming two weeks. This is to make everyone aware of each other's holidays and confirm the dates with the people who requested time off. Sometimes there are changes.
The team call is also the place for celebrations; birthdays and company anniversaries get attention here.
Whenever we sign a new client, we ask them to introduce themselves in our team call. They don't only pitch their company, but they also explain what they expect from our collaboration.
Doing this ensures that the whole team understands the project, not only the people working on it.
A stage for team members
Instead of doing all the talking myself, I often ask a team member to present something they have been working on. Usually, this involves a quick screen share session in which they explain a problem they had and how they solved it.
Business development updates
Our team is pretty interested in the leads we have coming in and our decision-making process on which challenges we want to take on. In the call, I try to shed some light on the deals on the table.
Since marketing is a team effort, we give a regular update on all things marketing in the team call. We talk about upcoming events we are organizing and content initiatives we have in the pipeline.
Input from the team
A couple of hours before the call, I try to ask the team if they want me to cover a specific topic. They also know that they can interrupt me at any time during the call to ask a question.
What are you waiting for?
Now you know to run the perfect team call. I really want to encourage you to record the call and make a blog post about it. This allows people that did not attend to watch it afterwards.
The blog post also creates a low-effort paper trail of the most important decisions taken in the company. If you use a content platform with search functionality, people can easily find that information later, helping those that decide to take some time off.