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How To Increase Engagement With Your Virtual All Hands

Caitlin Kirwan

Internal Comms & Engagement Expert

4 Oct 2023

Hosting virtual All Hands and Town Halls has become commonplace in the post-COVID working world. But there’s no denying that it can be much more difficult to achieve the same level of participation and engagement as the in-person events that preceded them.

Forgetting to click ‘accept’, having a clash with a client call, half listening while catching up on emails… sound familiar? Increasing engagement with All Hands events is a very different challenge now from what it was five years ago, when it was far more common for employees to come together in person every six to 12 months.

So what can HR and internal comms professionals do to increase engagement and improve participation with virtual All Hands? 

This blog walks you through seven chronological steps to put your upcoming virtual All Hands in a position to achieve the best possible participation and engagement. 

What should an All Hands meeting include?

Let’s start with the basics.

An All Hands brings together either the entire company or a large department to build connections, share important updates, and refocus the workforce on a common objective. While the agenda will always differ depending on the audience and cadence, there are four common elements that should be included:

  • Look back: performance from the last reporting period, highlights, challenges
  • Look forward: updates on strategy, key focus areas for the coming period, predicted challenges
  • Recognition: celebrating individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond, sharing success stories
  • Call to action: requirements for the coming period that will unite, energize, and motivate employees to achieve the things discussed in the ‘look forward’.

7 steps to increase engagement with your virtual All Hands

There are heaps of benefits to hosting a virtual All Hands meeting. Aside from being way more convenient, accessible, and inclusive for remote teams, they are significantly more budget-friendly than organizing a company-wide gathering. They’re less disruptive, less time-consuming, and much less harmful to the environment.

With such tangible benefits on offer, it’s totally worth investing a little extra time to ensure employees are participating and engaging with the virtual meeting.

Six to eight weeks before the virtual All Hands

The first step is to share a calendar invitation with all participants six to eight weeks before the event. This might feel like a lot of notice, but giving employees a save-the-date, even if you don’t have all the details yet, is really helpful.

There’s nothing worse than receiving an invitation for an important company-wide update just one to two weeks in advance, and then having to waste hours rearranging your calendar and rescheduling the meetings you’re going to have to miss.

Build a well-balanced agenda

Once the placeholder is in the diary, attention can turn to creating a well-balanced agenda for the event.

An hour is plenty for a virtual All Hands. There are always exceptions, but it’s generally very difficult for attendees to maintain engagement and focus for a virtual meeting that’s over 60 minutes long.

Using the standardized All Hands layout (look back, look forward, recognition, call to action), start to build a well-balanced agenda that includes different voices from across the organization to help keep participants engaged and interested. 

And don’t let the Q&A be an afterthought! Remember to build dedicated time into the agenda for two-way engagement and attendee participation.

Two weeks before the virtual All Hands

The next step is to continue building engagement by circulating a reminder to all invitees about the upcoming All Hands and asking for some kind of action. 

This might be an invitation for attendees to submit questions, an opportunity to up-vote topics, or a request to download an app that’s going to be used during the session. Don’t just rely on email post a banner to your intranet homepage that links to the calendar invite, remind employees about the meeting in any newsletters or updates, and ask Team Leaders to mention it to their employees during team briefings.

Host a briefing call with your speakers

After the two-week prompt has been shared, turn your focus to the colleagues who will be speaking at the All Hands. 

For a smooth event, it’s really important that you host a briefing call with all the speakers. Ideally, the briefing should take place on the same platform that the All Hands will be happening on so that they can get familiar with the technology.

Talk the speakers through the agenda and ensure they are comfortable with the running order, timings, and the process for handovers. If there are presenters who can’t join the briefing call, be sure to connect with them individually before the live session.

Two days before the virtual All Hands?

With just a couple of days to go, it’s time to send a final reminder to all attendees including all the technical details about joining the session.

As you did before, use a variety of internal channels rather than relying on email alone. Add a reminder to your intranet or employee app, and send a reminder to people leaders so that they can ensure team members are reminded about joining the session.  

Prioritize participation during the virtual All Hands

The event is finally here! 

Remember not to view the All Hands as a one-way presentation. Instead, look at it as an opportunity for two-way connection between the leadership team and the broader organization.

Your All Hands should be so much more than just a static presentation; it’s an employee touch-point, an opportunity for connection, an engagement.

So, it’s really important to make full use of the interactive features available to you, including chat and Q&A functions. For sessions with more than 250 attendees, you will likely need an additional pair of hands to help monitor these interactive features.

Keep the conversation going after the event

The closing section of the All Hands shouldn’t be the final thing that your employees hear until a few months down the line when you’re promoting the next one.

Instead, circulate follow-up content after the All Hands concludes. Include a link to the recording, the slide deck, and a high-level summary of the messaging and key takeaways. 

Create an All Hands Hub within your intranet for employees to access previous recordings, slides, and other content on-demand. It’s also a great resource for new starters who are looking for information to get themselves up to speed on the latest company updates.

Boosting employee engagement with Workvivo

So there we have it: seven actionable steps to increase engagement with your virtual All Hands!

Want to find out how Workvivo can help bring your company together and boost employee engagement? 1 million employees connect with their colleagues through the app every day. Check out awesome product features, or schedule a demo to say hello!