Best Practices for Hosting Virtual All-Hands Meetings
All-hands meetings provide excellent opportunities for you to share valuable information and updates with your entire organization. Here’s how you can host an interactive rally that will engage and excite your employees.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
The hybrid challenge
As companies make the transition to hybrid work, maintaining engagement and fostering connections with remote and in-person employees are top of mind. With this transition, organizations need to adjust to changing dynamics, and that includes how you effectively share information with and engage your hybrid workforce.
According to Gartner research, the hybrid work share of remote workers is expected to reach 70% of the total remote workforce by the end of 2022.
So how will organizations adapt to keep a distributed workforce updated on critical company information and engage remote teams?
HR and internal communications professionals should consider:
focusing on communicating important company-wide updates
effectively engaging with their entire globally distributed workforce
employing open communication through company all-hands meetings to help employees feel connected
This guide offers expert tips for hosting company all-hands meetings to help you create a sense of community across your business and communicate important internal updates with your employees.
Choosing the right technology
Whether you’re looking to build connections or announce the latest company news, choosing the right technology will help you deliver a valuable employee experience.
Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars each provide features that allow businesses, big and small, to host successful and engaging all-hands meetings, while Zoom Events allows you to create a hub for employee events past and present.
Meetings vs. Webinars vs. Events
Participants are known to the host.
- Up to 1,000 participants
Participants can interact with video, audio, screen share, annotation, chat, and breakout rooms.
Best for group collaboration
- Team syncs
- Sales demos
- Online classes & office hours
Large audiences & attendees are unknown to the host.
- Up to 100,000 attendees.
Attendees can view, listen, and use Q&A.
Best for public events
- Council meetings
- Virtual conferences & seminars
- Entertainment events
Flexibly choose between Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars
Organize recordings in a Hub where past all-hands meeting sessions can live
Assign individual tickets for each attendee
Best for events:
- With recurring sessions
- Featuring multiple tracks
- Spanning multiple days
How to decide
How many employees will be attending? How much interaction do you want? Are you hosting multiple sessions? Here are some recommendations for when to use each Zoom solution.
Perfect for fewer than 1,000 interactive participants
Ideal for up hosting up to 100,000 view-only attendees and up to 1,000 interactive panelists
Best if you want to flexibly choose between Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars for your all-hands sessions, and manage and store each recording in one internally accessible Hub
Think about the attendee experience
The type of attendee experience and level of interaction you want for employees will be key to deciding which technology you choose.
Zoom Meetings are made for connecting. Not only do employees have access to audio and video, they also have greater flexibility to interact and engage with features like chat, filters, reactions, polls, digital whiteboard, and hand-raising. They can also screen share and join Breakout Rooms if the host enables these features.
Zoom Webinars give hosts greater control over the attendee experience. Attendees do not have the ability to use audio or video or share their screens, which limits the potential for disruptions. Employees will still have the opportunity to engage via the Q&A panel, webinar chat, polls, reactions, and post-webinar survey. This makes Zoom Webinars useful for communicating company-wide updates, hosting executive panel discussions, and conducting large-scale training. Hosts can also customize the look and feel of each all-hands meeting with session branding.
With Zoom Events, you can choose to host an individual session with either Zoom Meetings or Zoom Webinars and use the interactive features listed above as well as additional features like Networking and Expo. You also can easily store, manage, and share recordings from your Hub, a digital content directory.
Want to see these features in action?
Request a demo with a Zoom expert.
Tips and best practices
It’s important to create an all-hands meeting that makes the most of your employees’ time and entices them to participate. These best practices will help you feel confident hosting professional, impactful all-hands meetings.
Work as a team
There are a lot of moving parts when hosting a virtual event, even an internal one. Delegate tasks to team members and clearly outline their roles and responsibilities so you can work together to create a seamless experience.
For sharing slides
Designate someone who knows the content and talk track well to share slides, or give slide control to each speaker so they can progress their own slides during the meeting.
For moderating Q&A and chat
Depending on how many attendees you have, you can have a few people moderating the Q&A and chat. This is a great way for your employees to get questions answered on the fly and keep them engaged throughout the meeting.
For launching polls
Polling, available for both Meetings and Webinars, is a great way to engage with your audience. Advanced polling allows for additional answer formats and quizzes to keep things fun and make sure people are paying attention. Assign a teammate to launch and manage polls throughout your event.
Follow our security best practices to protect your all-hands session. You can also have a teammate oversee the Q&A or chat and look out for potentially inappropriate comments or disruptions.
Host a dry run
Practice makes perfect! Before the event, schedule a dry run with all speakers to test their audio, video, lighting, and internet connections. For your technical team, this is when you should practice sharing slides and videos, launching polls, and anything else you may do during your live event.
Here’s a checklist to help you cover all your bases in your dry run and make sure you’re ready for the big day:
Dry Run Checklist
Your list should include:
Introductions and roles/responsibilities
- Host will manage all-hands technical questions
- Presenters/Panelist roles
Quick overview of all-hands meeting features and controls
When using Zoom Webinars:
- Managing and responding to Q&A
- Sharing messages and links in chat
- Launching a Poll
When using Zoom Meetings:
- Managing and responding in chat
- Launching a Poll
- Managing participants
Determine who will be sharing content and test out content
- What content will be shared? (e.g., slides, video, desktop, applications, etc.)
- If sharing audio, such as music or a video with sound, test to make sure the audio is coming through at the proper volume
Review housekeeping items
- Who will the host kick things over to after the welcome and housekeeping message?
- Remind panelists to join the live event 15 minutes early
- Confirm all-hands meeting start and end time
- Determine how you are managing Q&A (ie. answering at the end)
- Chat and Raise Hand will be turned off for attendees unless otherwise specified
- What (if any) links or messages should be sent to attendees through chat?
Confirm everyone has their panelist links for the live event
- Use a hardwire internet connection to avoid connectivity issues
- Close programs and windows not in use to avoid notifications popping up or unwanted tabs from showing
- Create a dedicated Zoom account used only for hosting all-hands so that settings are saved/not changed by other users in the account
Checklist for All-Hands Host:
Before All-Hands (1-2 weeks out)
Review all desired account settings are enabled/disabled
Schedule all-hands meetings/webinar
Set up poll questions, if applicable
Crate draft all-hands agenda
Create draft list of panelists
Before All-Hands (~1 week out)
Review & finalize content/slides and agenda
Email final agenda to execs & panelists
Send meeting/webinar invite to all employees
Promote & share agenda across company channels
Host dry-run with all panelists
Monitor and respond to Q&A
Debrief with team on what worked well /didn’t work well
Distribute slides and recording across company channels
Respond to miscellaneous employee outreach
Audience engagement and connection
There’s more than one way to host a successful all-hands meeting; it all depends on the structure and needs of your workforce. Here are some tips to help ensure that your all-hands meetings provide the most value for your employees.
Topic variation is key
It’s important to vary the topics during your meeting to keep your audience engaged and interested in the information that is presented. Consider inviting guest speakers to provide opportunities for learning, thought leadership, or just plain fun. Also, sharing videos or music to make every all-hands unique, is a great way to generate excitement.
Promote in-meeting engagement
An all-hands meeting is a great time to get your employees involved and excited about working for your organization. Give your employees the opportunity to share what’s important for them to know, and tailor the all-hands agenda by offering a poll or survey prior to the event.
Leverage Zoom Team Chat to share the information before and after your event. Create buzz even before the event starts and make sure important details aren’t missed!
The Zoom Webinars Q&A feature allows attendees to submit questions for live or written responses during the event. Here are a few tips for using the Q&A feature:
Designate members of your team to manage the Q&A so presenters can focus on speaking. If your Q&A team is not participating in audio or video, you can hide their video feed via the Hide Non-Video Participants feature.
Have a few thought-provoking questions prepared, in case you don’t receive enough high-quality attendee questions to fill the allotted time for Q&A.
You can adjust Q&A settings to allow or disable anonymous questions or change whether attendees can view, comment, or upvote questions.
Review the Q&A report after your webinar and follow up with attendees whose questions weren’t answered in the session.
Available with Zoom Meetings, Breakout Rooms allow your employees to meet in smaller groups. Assign attendees to Breakout Rooms prior to or during the session. You can allow participants to select which room they want to join or allow them to move freely among rooms.
Surveys for feedback
Give your employees a chance to provide feedback after your event, to measure what employees thought went well, what still needs improvement, and what they’d like to see at future all-hands events. With Zoom Webinars, you can use the post-webinar survey to launch a survey right after your event.