All-hands meetings, also known as town hall meetings, can be boring, one-way communications from leadership to the rest of the company. We’ve created a better way to do an all-hands that makes it easier to prepare ahead of time and more convenient for everyone who watches.
In this video, our Head of Platform Video, Andrew Owen, shares how you can optimize your all-hands for maximum engagement.
5 quick tips for virtual all-hands success
- Keep it brief. We recommend each week’s video being 30 minutes or less.
- Stick to a regular schedule, whether it's weekly or biweekly. Keep it consistent and on everyone’s calendar so that your whole team can plan and schedule around it.
- Make it mandatory. If viewing is optional, the video won’t do the job of keeping your team in sync.
- Focus on timely topics. This will help people get work done that matters to the business right now.
- Go beyond work. Think about your all-hands as a place to introduce new employees, celebrate culture, and honor holidays.
How to choose between live vs. pre-recorded all-hands video
There are advantages and disadvantages to both live and pre-recorded productions of all-hands. When you conduct an all-hands meeting live, your whole team is connected in real-time, which can be valuable for live Q&A sessions and building camaraderie. But that sometimes comes with technical challenges, such as scheduling across multiple time zones or collaborating on visuals with people in different locales..
With pre-recorded video, distributed and remote teams reap the benefit of feeling equally included. People can watch the all-hands on their own time and at their own speed, and they're never left out of a live synchronous call. What’s more, your contributors have plenty of time to record their segments in advance and ensure their delivery is exactly how they want it. They don't have to present live and overcome any presentation jitters or technical challenges. The drawback to pre-recorded video is that it takes some prep work for all of your presenters.
You may find that having weekly pre-recorded all-hands is the best choice for your team, with live all-hands being reserved for quarterly updates, special town halls, or celebrations.
How to format an all-hands agenda
Having a familiar agenda helps the audience know what to expect week-over-week. This is what we generally adhere to at mmhmm:
- Intro from the host. This can be short, with a host welcoming viewers and giving a preview of what’s lined up for that week.
- People updates. Use this as a time to celebrate new hires and work anniversaries, as well as to announce any updates to HR policies.
- Team updates. Your team leaders should create update segments on a recurring basis, informing the company what their priorities are and how their team is working to achieve company objectives. Invite leaders to share on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, or whatever feels right for your structure.
- Leadership Q&A. Consider a recurring Ask Me Anything with your CEO or other executives. Team members can submit questions in advance, and the leader can prepare a video segment answering the questions asynchronously. This is a great way to build clarity and trust with your team.
- Team member features. Close out your all-hands with a 5-minute, pre-recorded fireside chat with a different team member. Short home office tours or cultural holiday features can also be fun and informative segments. This helps colleagues get to know each other remotely.
What you need to make your all-hands video shine
Both people power and the right tools can help you produce a successful all-hands. Here’s what we recommend:
Host: You’ll need someone on your team to act as host, likely the same person each week. This person’s job is to bring enthusiasm and cohesion to the production. In general a host will introduce each week’s video and presenters. You may want to also have the host record an outro segment each week, with general reminders and well wishes.
Producer: A producer helps to keep things on schedule and works with segment contributors week over week. They manage the run of show, and plan all-hands segments weeks and months in advance. Often segment contributors are unfamiliar with the production process, so the producer is essential in guiding contributors along in the production process
Segment Contributors: Each week will feature a different set of segment contributors, though many of them will be recurring contributors. These people may need assistance with the production process, whether you’re pre-recording or presenting live.
Video recording app: Using an engaging presentation tool will keep your audience engaged and excited for each all-hands. We recommend using mmhmm for both pre-recorded and live presentations. Each segment contributor should record their segment individually, and then the producer will compile them for publication.
Video recording equipment: While you can get by with your computer’s built-in camera and microphone, we recommend upgrading to external equipment for your host and segment contributors. Having the highest quality video possible builds trust and connection with your audience. Here’s a great video showing equipment we recommend for recording, with links to the products we use.
Project management tool: Because there are so many moving parts, it’s best to have some kind of content planner or calendar so you can keep everything scheduled and on track. We use Asana for this, but you could likely get by with a simple spreadsheet as well.
Tips for project-managing a live or pre-recorded all-hands video
Whether you’re going to run the show live or share a pre-recorded segment, here are a few ways you can make the workflow easier on everyone involved.
- Plan out your segments weeks in advance so everybody has plenty of time to prepare.
- Support your segment contributors as they prepare their segments in mmhmm. You can share these videos for step-by-step instructions on how to build a presentation in mmhmm.
- If you’re going live, here’s how to connect to Zoom and other video conference tools. If you’re pre-recording, here are instructions on how to record a presentation.
The fastest way to compile an all-hands video without editing
If you’ve gone the pre-recorded route (which is our preference), you don’t have to spend time pasting clips together. Instead, gather all of the pre-recorded video links from your contributors and share them in a single all-hands channel on mmhmm TV. Learn more about mmhmm TV channels here.
When all of the segments have been added to your channel in the proper order, you can share out the link to that channel for your whole team to watch. At mmhmm, we post the link to an all-hands Slack channel, which also serves as the hub for conversation on the content we share each week.
At the end of each week, we move all segments to a separate “Previous all-hands” mmhmm TV channel.
Get started with mmhmm
We encourage you to get started with your own company wide all-hands video, whether it’s pre-recorded or live. If you haven’t done it already, download mmhmm for Mac or Windows for free. If you have specific questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to answer your questions about this and help you solve any problems you're having so that you can have the best video all-hands possible.