All hands meetings are a key element of an internal communications strategy. When done right, they align teams and provide a healthy forum for feedback and conversation. They can also help employees understand how their role and work fits into the bigger picture.  

But there’s a catch. When orchestrated poorly, these meetings can be unengaging at best or uninformative at worst. 

So for business leaders looking to bring all hands on deck, how do you strike the right balance for your meeting?

In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about all hands meetings. We’ll also lay out a few tips on how Vimeo runs our all hands meetings to help you confidently produce yours in a remote or hybrid working world. 

What is an all hands meeting?

An all hands meeting — sometimes referred to as a town hall — brings an entire organization together virtually or in-person to discuss company-wide updates. 

Usually an executive leader (think your chief operating officer or chief executive officer) leads with an agenda full of company updates, new projects, team shoutouts, and designated time for Q&A.

The truth about town halls

Whether you’re running an all hands meeting to town hall, discover all the ways to engage and inspire your employees with video.


Why are all hands meetings important?

Think about it. Without a recurring all hands meeting or town hall, it’s likely that employees will gather information ad hoc across the org. Information might disseminate piecemeal or even get misinterpreted. 

Additionally, employees need a venue to ask questions and get a sense of how the company is operating in other areas where they’re not involved.

Thankfully, all hands meetings have the power to bring teams together. By sharing information in a designated meeting, executives can foster transparency and get real-time feedback to help their employees stay connected wherever they are. 

Vimeo's live production team filming a town hall meeting

What’s the difference between an in-person and virtual all hands meeting?

The biggest difference between an in-person all hands and a virtual one is that virtual all hands meetings are broadcast or live streamed to employees.

Virtual all hands meetings pack a punch, too. They provide organizations with much needed flexibility to include remote teams regardless of where they’re located. 

What is a virtual all hands meeting?

A virtual all hands or town hall meeting is an internal event broadcast live to a remote audience of employees. Virtual all hands meetings have become a necessity for internal communications as more organizations move to a remote of hybrid-work experience.

With businesses operating in a remote or and hybrid work environment, it’s more important than ever to stay connected. Video brings a sense of routine, support, and community for dispersed teams.

Why virtual all hands are essential to internal comms

Virtual all hands help keep teams aligned and engaged. Like their in-office counterparts, virtual all hands meetings (or virtual town halls) are venues for business updates, employee spotlights, and an opportunity for leaders to field questions (and drop a shout out or two!).

But remember: a successful all hands meeting, whether in-person or virtual, depends on a thoughtful implementation. A recent study we conducted with Global Web Index found that 54% of executives believe their organizations are streaming weekly updates, while only 20% of their workforce agree. Evidently, this represents a disconnect!

To help you cross the internal communications chasm, we’ve gathered 8 tips from Vimeo’s COO, Courtney Sanchez, on how to plan the best all hands meeting.

How to run a great all hands meeting in 8 steps

1. Plan your meeting in advance

To keep your virtual all hands meeting on track, take a step back and think like a producer. This means planning, planning, and just a little more planning. A lot of behind-the-scenes action happens to make each virtual meeting a smash.

Start by drafting a proposed agenda and circulating it to relevant stakeholders in advance. Confirming the agenda, meeting flow, and presenters can come down to the wire, so make sure your stakeholders understand your timeline.

Next, if you have a production or AV team supporting the broadcast, launch a test stream the morning of to make sure you’re ready to go!

As an example, Vimeo uses an easy, two-step planning sequence. First, we circulate a draft of the agenda to the leadership team a week in advance and solicit feedback. Next, our production team does a test run of the live stream to iron out any technical kinks ahead of time. Then, it’s showtime!

2. Host your all hands meeting on specific topics

The best all hands meeting facilitates transparent dialogue and creates an inclusive environment where employees can participate. To create an inclusive and engaging environment, Vimeo has found a lot of success in hosting our all hands meetings on very specific topics.

To do this, you’ll want to identify topics that are most engaging to employees and omit anything that’s less important.

For example, if you’re getting an overflow of questions at the end of your meeting, you may want dedicated live Q&A sessions. If several employees are reaching out with questions about a specific topic — a follow-up meeting focused on that topic would likely resonate with them.

We also host additional town halls on specific topics where there is a need. These tend to be less structured, with open mics for employees to express support or concern.
Courtney Sanchez, COO at Vimeo

3. Increase your all hands meeting frequency

Given the reality of remote work, it’s likely your organization can benefit from increased meeting frequency to keep communication flowing.

In the last year, Vimeo has recognized the need for a more frequent cadence to address the entire team. Thus, the newly branded All Vimeo Live Town Halls go live every other week. The intent is to have less formal meetings that allow leadership to provide updates on the current environment, the business, and address employee concerns.

It also makes sense that the execution of a virtual all hand has changed. We’ve shifted to primarily remote production even if the prep work for both virtual and in-person all hands meeting has remained unchanged. You’ll also need to consider the implications of not being able to see the reactions from all your employees in a remote setting.

With remote work and the reality of social distancing, we recognized the need for a more frequent cadence to address the entire team.
Courtney Sanchez, COO at Vimeo

Learn how executives lean into new communications strategies with the Workplace Communications Workshop.

4. Plan meeting activities

A big challenge during remote work is maintaining a sense of belonging. As you plan your meeting, consider how to weave in social activities. Think of easy ideas like virtual happy hours, trivia games, lunch & learns, and Slack challenges.

For example, Vimeo hosts video get-togethers where Vimeans introduce their pets, and “guess the virtual background” competitions. It’s all part of Vimeo Virtual, a global events program to provide our teams with opportunities to connect with, learn from, and support one another.

In addition to meetups like show and tells, we host sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion. Consider ways you can branch out of the standard meeting agenda and find topics and themes to excite your team.

A screen shot of a Vimeo Virtual video conference event

5. Use surveys to get feedback

We’ve learned that collecting feedback after a virtual all hands is critical. You’ll likely notice in your next company sync that it’s difficult to gauge reactions during a live broadcast.

To create valuable feedback loops, send surveys, identify candid individuals within the org, and ask new employees for insights into what they liked and examples of what they liked from previous organizations. Add the feedback as you test new modules and approaches in future meetings.

6. Keep employees engaged by showing your face

Engaging remote employees is challenging. Digital fatigue is real. That’s why it’s so important for leaders to be candid and show their face to employees. Encourage leaders to address topics or issues directly in the meeting materials rather than waiting to see if it will show up in the Q&A.

Remember: it’s okay for leaders to be vulnerable, as it demonstrates empathy and a willingness to be real. Candor keeps employees engaged and motivated, particularly in times of uncertainty.

From a virtual all hands standpoint, we’ve found that it’s important to show our faces, versus just audio and a slide deck. It builds a sense of human connection in a digital world.
Courtney Sanchez, COO at Vimeo

7. Incorporate company values in your internal communications strategy

To make a stand-out meeting, incorporate your company values with honesty and integrity.

Vimeo’s values influence our internal communications strategy immensely. Empathy, impact, and candor are critical pillars of our internal communications strategy. We open every all hands with a “What’s Working/What’s Not (Yet)” framework to be transparent on where we are making an impact as a team and where we need to improve.

We end each all hands with an anonymous, open Q&A to encourage every voice that wants to be heard. Often, this results in our leadership team tackling challenging topics openly and honestly. We’re committed to this approach as we believe it’s the best way to work through challenges as a team.

An open Q&A often leads to our leadership team tackling challenging topics openly and honestly. It’s something we have committed to doing, as we believe it is the best way to work through those challenges as a team.
Courtney Sanchez, COO at Vimeo

8. Measure your success

After every all hands we immediately post a poll for the team to provide feedback. Success is most often measured by two questions:

  • Do you have a better understanding of Vimeo’s strategy, performance, and goals?
  • Was our all-hands a worthwhile time investment?

We also request feedback on the all hands materials, as we always strive to hone in on topics and themes important to the team, topics we didn’t address and should have, or any additional feedback.

Wrap up: all hands on deck!

We’re all adapting to a new remote working environment. Embrace the learnings and continue refining your internal comms process with these helpful tips:

  • Plan your all hands meetings in advance.
  • Host meetings on specific topics.
  • Increase your all hands meeting frequency.
  • Spice it up with virtual activities and challenges.
  • Capture important feedback with surveys.
  • Show your face.
  • Bring your values into the comms strategy.
  • Keep measuring success.

Planning your own virtual or in-person all hands meeting? Vimeo’s live production team can help with guidance and consulting to make it a success.

Work smarter with video →

Originally published on April 14, 2020 and updated on August 8, 2022.