The objective of an All Hands Meeting is to provide information to all stakeholders, employees and key parties within an organization. Start planning your next All Hands Meeting with these "MUST HAVE" Essential Elements!

Essential Element #1 - Scheduling and Advertisement

Reaching a large audience requires a mechanism to schedule the date/ time/ place of the meeting plus determining the manner in which each audience member will attend. For local personnel in close proximity to the place of the meeting, attendance may be in-person. For remote attendees, however, attending may mean using a desktop or laptop computer, a telephone, a tablet/PDA or even a web-enabled TV.

Scheduling includes taking into account all of the forms of reception that may be used by personnel to "attend" the All Hands Meeting.

Once scheduled, advertising the methods of access and the importance of the meeting's information is essential. Each audience member, must be aware of the options available to them so they can attend the All Hands Meeting at the time that is pertinent to their location.

Essential Element #2 - Target Audience Attendance

Generally, an All Hands Meeting targets the widest possible audience of stakeholders, but the essential element of targeting is to define the audience well. The target audience may be employees for example. Defining whether this would include board members [that may not technically be employees] is an example of setting a target for the audience. Business owners or stockholders may be another group that could be considered as part of a target audience. The essential element is to specifically define all audience members and then to plan for their attendance.

Once defined, the actual audience attendance should be measured. Measuring attendance provides a method of determining how well the content of the All Hands meeting is distributed among the target audience. For example, a "sign-in" for personnel that attend in person is a simple way of obtaining an understanding of the reach of the meeting information. Similarly, Online Event Logs that show user registrations can provide an assessment of remote party attendance.

Assessing attendance is an essential element of success because it provides understanding of the reach of the information presented.

Essential Element #3 - Clear Presentation of Information

Information has value when the reason it is important is highlighted. Leaving each recipient to decide whether information is important is a mistake. Great presentations tell audiences why information is important rather than asking each recipient to decide for themselves. Here are some examples:

Don't Simply State FactsState Facts with Meaning
1. Sales are up 25% this yearSales hit an All Time High - up 25%
2. Today we are launching the Widget 5000The All New Widget 5000 is the First of Its Kind
3. We are merging with XYZ companyOur merger with XYZ will create a Global Giant

In example #1 the importance of sales increasing 25% is emphasized by the fact sales reached an "All Time High". Audience members are likely to remember this record achievement while possibly forgetting the actual percentage of sales growth. Similarly, in example #2, a product launched as "The First of its Kind" emphasizes the significance of the new product. Example #3 helps audience members go right to the essential element of the merger which is the fact it will create a "Global Giant."

Presenting information without also presenting its IMPORTANCE devalues it. An All Hands Meeting, by its nature is a forum for presenting important information. Highlighting its importance is essential to creating value for the attendees.

Critically, slide shows and presentations should be prepared using large font size to present information. Strive to use font sizes and styles that are at least 20 points with clear script that enables easy reading from a distance. Many architects of presentations mistakenly believe they must include all details in their visual materials. They should not. The essential element of what needs to be included is only the key information in large font size. Clearly presenting important information and defining why it is important is essential.

Essential Element #4 - Simultaneous Delivery of Information

Delivering information to all stakeholders simultaneously is powerful and valuable. Product launches, special announcements and key information all take on a larger dimension when delivered to a wide group of stakeholders simultaneously. It is essential to plan how and when each audience member will receive the information so that all meeting attendees are clear about the message simultaneously.

The critical and core value of an All Hands Meeting is to provide identical information to all stakeholders at the same time. The All Hands meeting addresses the problem of a presenter not easily being able to make identical presentations to different groups at different times or locations. Even using the same presentation materials, a meeting leader cannot easily deliver an identical message with the same levels of impact or emphasis.

Simultaneous delivery means that telephone callers, in person attendees, video conference callers and even visitors to an organization's website all receive information and updates at the same time. This requires thoughtful and careful engineering of systems and integration of each "feed" into the source audio and video content. The meeting's technical coordinators are in charge of this coordination and when executed effectively all stakeholders share equally in the information presented.

One meeting, all stakeholders, one time; this is an essential element of an All Hands Meeting.

Essential Element #5 - Availability of Information

The primary purpose of the All Hands Meeting is to disseminate information. So, it is essential to assess the timeframe during which this information is intended to be available.

Often, the All Hands Meeting is the start of the dissemination of information, but not the end. For example, an All Hands Meeting may be used to announce a company reorganization. The high level information may be discussed at the All Hands Meeting, while the details of the reorganization may be announced over several days or weeks.

Alternatively, an All Hands Meeting may be used to define a particular state of a condition such as an earnings announcement for a quarter just ended. All the information that is to be disclosed is revealed at once, with no further forecasting or additional information to follow.

In each case, the significant and essential element of the All Hands Meeting is to reveal critical information to all stakeholders simultaneously. Keeping in mind how the information that is revealed is to be treated after its disclosure is just as important as the disclosure in the All Hands Meeting itself. And so, planning for the availability of the All Hands Meeting information is 100% essential.