AB Thinks  →  2nd November 2023

4 ways to modernise your all-company meetings

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In this new world of work, traditional internal communications tools don’t provide the answer you’re looking for. Reaching an audience across multiple locations, time zones and cultures requires a flexible, inclusive approach that allows people to consume content in the way they want to.

Some colleagues will be tuning into your all-company meeting on the commute into work. For some, it might fall at 8pm, a time they’re less likely to take in any of the essential updates you’ve worked so hard to include.

It’s time for a new, modern approach.

That’s what Paul Downey, Global Head of Communications and Engagement at Access Group, told Katie Macaulay on a recent episode of The Internal Comms Podcast. Paul communicates to a 6,000-strong team in the UK, Ireland and Asia Pacific, navigating the challenges of creating inclusive, diverse company comms.

Paul has drastically recalibrated the format of Access Group’s annual all-company meeting. Here are his four tips for shaking things up:

Tip #1. View it from a global mindset
With the challenge of time zones, and wanting to create an experience that was accessible to all, Paul went “Netflix-style” with a live 90-minute broadcast which was available on-demand for colleagues to consume at their leisure.

Tip #2. Prioritise inclusivity
When Katie asked Paul what message he would broadcast on a billboard, he quoted the great Maya Angelou: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ He’s brought this to life in his comms approach, prioritising “a really inclusive event that everyone felt part of, and everyone felt that they could see themselves in.”

How did his team achieve this? “We had 24 global sessions. Each session was a 90-minute TV show. And we had 150 global speakers.”

Your team is scattered around the world, but it doesn’t mean they can’t all feel part of something whole.

Tip #3. Diversify your messaging
Generally, those core messages and strategic narrative come from the top. But, as Paul told Katie: “I didn’t want to feel like we were broadcasting from the mothership or from HQ.” The answer was to diversify the speakers to help keep content relatable for local teams.

“Each local leader had their own 90-minute show,” said Paul. “They could take that strategic messaging and work out what that meant for them at a local level.”

Tip #4. Throw out the old…
“I wanted to get away from death by PowerPoint. I launched a no-slide rule.”

It’s certainly off-piste, but trying something new to see if it works out is the only way to see if your new idea has legs. If you’re team is no longer in the room with you, you need to make your broadcasts as engaging as possible. Perhaps death of PowerPoint is the way to go.

Listen to the full episode and learn how to diversity your internal comms toolbox at our free webinar, Sound ideas: How to amplify your voice with audio.

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