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All-hands meetings are vital for company leaders who need to communicate with the entire organization at a high level. It’s always been a challenge to make these meetings truly engaging, though. And in the past year, many companies have abruptly transitioned to virtual or hybrid models for their all-hands meetings.

It takes forethought and strong execution to make a virtual or hybrid all-hands meeting a success, but it can be done. Not sure where to start? These seven strategies can help you overcome common obstacles and pull off a virtual all-hands meeting that’s both engaging and effective.

1. Designate a Moderator or Host

Under the best of circumstances, all-hands meetings can be a little boring and disjointed. When you throw in a technology component and — sorry to say — typically less tech-savvy executives doing the speaking, things can quickly go off the rails. (Remember the lawyer who turned himself into a Zoom cat?)

To avoid awkward transitions and technology foibles, appoint a moderator or host for your virtual all-hands meeting. This person should have a good understanding of the technology in use and the agenda and will handle transitions between speakers. In addition to smoothing any rough edges, the moderator gives a relatable face to the event — breaking up a steady stream of executives and higher-ups.

2. Celebrate Success

For much of your workforce, the past 16 months have been difficult. Some have enjoyed new work-from-home freedom, but others have struggled with isolation or with balancing of Zoom Work and Zoom School, and all of the other added responsibilities.

It’s always a good idea to celebrate success, but this year above all years, your team desperately needs it. Share some company highlights, but don’t forget personal achievements, too. Highlight individuals who have gone above and beyond or (as appropriateness allows) overcome personal difficulties.

Remember, your all-hands is as much about morale boosting as it is about strategic alignment.

sales meeting

3. Break Up the Presentation

Zoom fatigue is real, and it’s even worse when you’re listening to an hour-long monologue with what seems like no relevance to your everyday life. Your employees don’t want to listen to a speech from the CEO over Zoom. (They probably don’t want to listen to that in person, either, but it’s much harder to check out anonymously that way.)

Break up the all-hands with multiple speakers, attention breaks, and engaging transitions from your moderator. Then when your executives do speak, people will be better able to focus. We’ll show you some ways to keep meetings interactive and attendees engaged below/.

Apple’s pandemic-era virtual events have been a masterclass here. You likely don’t have the resources to produce such high-production quality videos, but you can still adjust pacing, scenery and topics as they have done.If you are looking to emulate what Apple has done, and high production value and premium experiences are your goal. then Bluewater can help you get there!

4. Scene and Stage Design Still Matter

Even if your upcoming all-hands meeting is 100% virtual, scene and stage design still matter. Employees at your company aren’t likely to be inspired by C-level executives video chatting from their home offices at this point. That felt like solidarity in the first month or two of the pandemic, but not anymore.

No matter how limited your in-person offerings are at this point, invest in a well-designed presentation space. Your team will appreciate the sense of normalcy that a “real” virtual all-hands presentation gives.If nothing else, use our streaming & broadcast studio to broadcast the event with a team of professionals.

5. For Larger Events, Use Parallel.live

For maximum employee engagement, you need more than a static video call or a well-designed stage. For larger company initiatives, consider using a virtual events platform. Bluewater has been hard at work building Parallel, the first virtual events platform built by seasoned events professionals, not Silicon Valley startups.

Use Parallel’s virtual event space to create multiple stages and multiple streams of content, and drive employee engagement through rich chat and video chat.

Learn more about Parallel.live from Bluewater in our recent intro for the platform.

Defining Your Virtual Event

6. Use Live Polling to Get Instant Feedback

If your company has grown past the startup phase, you probably cannot get your entire team together very often. Use a virtual all-hands meeting as a chance to get instant feedback via live polling.

That said, you should only do this if natural, and make sure you’ve thought through the poll responses ahead of time. We saw one recently where the only responses to a new initiative were “I love it!!!” and “I could love it, but I have questions.”

A forced poll with out-of-touch answers is worse than no poll at all. But a well-designed, intentional poll can drive engagement and produce meaningful feedback.

7. Mind the Livestream

If you’re hosting a hybrid all-hands with a decent in-person crowd, it can be easy to forget the virtual attendees. Appoint a virtual host that’s on-site but watching the live stream (and monitoring the audio). Your virtual host can speak up on behalf of the meeting chat if the moderator can’t see it.

But most crucially, your virtual host can alert the A/V team if there’s a technical problem with the stream.

Pull Off a Stellar Virtual All Hands Meeting with Bluewater

Bluewater has been producing professional-caliber live events for years and has put that experience to work developing industry-leading virtual events technology and support. We can partner with you to take your virtual and hybrid events to a new level of professionalism and success. Got questions? Reach out today and see what Bluewater can do for you.