There is a dog barking incessantly in the background. And the not-so-stealthy typer who is audibly multitasking during the meeting. Yes, most remote workers are probably giving a rueful chuckle. We have all been there. But what about when you take your typical virtual meeting and increase it to 10, 20, even 100 people?
Video conference madness, filled with chaos and distraction. You might think so, right?
Not quite. Aha! is an entirely distributed company. Right now, we are approaching 100 teammates. And every week we hold an all-hands meeting that runs more smoothly than any I have experienced in an office environment.
Teammates join from across the globe — California, New Jersey, South Africa, New Zealand, and everywhere in between. Each functional group, like engineering and marketing, takes a turn to share key updates that are relevant for the entire company. (And yes, we use Aha! notebooks, the presentation tool that is included in our roadmap software.)
For example, a member of the engineering team might demo an upcoming product enhancement. Or a Customer Success manager might share how a specific company is using Aha! to build and market better products. After each group gives their update, we rotate seamlessly to the next team.
It is like a well-choreographed dance as we take turns hopping on video and showcasing the week’s work.
These meetings play an important role in our success. Not only do they keep us aligned with how we are progressing towards our goals, but they also keep us connected. We get to see everyone’s faces, see each other’s work, and be reminded that we are one close-knit team — despite the geographical distance.
Holding a weekly gathering like this takes commitment — especially when you are coordinating with folks across the world. Here is how we do it:
Publish an agenda
The team always knows what to expect. For starters, we post an agenda before the meeting starts, so everyone knows the order and when their group will be presenting. This saves any awkward moments wondering who should hop on camera next. And within each functional group, leaders prep teammates in advance of the call, asking them to speak to a specific project or topic. There are no surprises — everyone is prepared.
No hiding behind speakerphones in this meeting — everyone gets on camera. Of course, it is difficult to get the entire company on screen all at once. But we do make sure everyone gets some face time. As each group shares its update, that team jumps on. Seeing people’s faces helps keep us bonded and buoys our feelings of familiarity and trust.
Just like there are no surprises, there are also no secrets. We use our time together and are transparent — sharing what we did over the past week and how we are progressing against our goals. This gives everyone clarity on where we are headed and where we need to put in more effort. We all leave the meeting with a clear purpose for the next week.
We want folks to actively participate — even if they are not presenting anything that week. This might mean leaving a comment or reaction to what is being shared via chat. We also often save time at the end of calls to give teammates the chance to ask leaders anything they would like about where we are headed.
Yes, we are one focused group. But we still make room for fun. We celebrate major milestones on our calls, like when someone has a work anniversary or graduates from our onboarding program. We also like to put a spotlight on new hires. And there are times when we find ourselves being a bit silly too — costume competitions are always a hit.
Our weekly meetings remind us that we are one team — working hard together, despite being miles apart.
Gathering 100 people from all around the globe may sound near-impossible — maybe even a bit chaotic. But I can tell you from experience that it does not need to be. We have created our weekly all-company meetings with a clear purpose, structure, and yes, some fun. And every week I am amazed at how impactful these meetings can be.
How does your team stay connected?
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