Twice a month, my colleagues and I gather at our Utah office for a company meeting. The meetings have a casual, fun atmosphere, but make no mistake--a lot of people go to a lot of trouble to ensure that they run like clockwork.
We take pains to get it right because we've found a formula whose rewards are simple but powerful: greater company unity, a shot in the arm for the culture, and a clearer understanding of where we've been, where we are and where we want to be.
Here's how to run your own (killer) company meeting, in eight easy steps:
1. Gather the whole family.
You've probably heard the saying: "The family that prays together, stays together." It essentially means that people with shared values who regularly gather to concentrate super hard on them tend to remain unified.
Whether you're a team of six or a team of 60, do everything you can to make sure that everyone's physically present. For us, this means flying our California contingent to Utah, but face time with faraway colleagues justifies the time and expense.
2. Feed them lunch.
If you're going to make something mandatory, you may as well make it fun. We do a catered lunch for every meeting and give everyone plenty of time to assemble side by side and dig in.
Something special happens when you plop down, stomach grumbling, across from faces you know and trust and shove delicious food in your mouth. You start to trust them even more. You laugh and open up and relax. Fill those bellies.
3. Examine your goals.
Once the meeting starts, it's time to get down to business. Numbers can either be the most boring or the most exciting topic in the world, depending on how you present them.
Don't be content to simply reel off a list of statistics showing how close or far you are from your quarterly goals. Discuss why it matters to your company's mission and vision. Be energetic and positive.
4. Have a Q&A.
We have two meetings a month since we've grown too much to cover everything in a single session. We dedicate one of them to a town hall format to encourage maximum participation from all levels of the company.
At least every other meeting, ask that your employees submit their most burning questions a week in advance. Assure them that nothing's off the table, and encourage them to be frank.
5. Highlight an employee.
In our first year as a business, I decided to interview one employee a month and write up a short essay about their life which was then read aloud at the company meeting. The highlights were a hit, and as my interviewing skills improved, so did the highlights.
Focusing on individual employees lets you get to know them, them get to know you, and creates positive emotional connections between them and the rest of the team. In short, it makes them memorable.
6. Have employee shout-outs.
When you're doing something right, it feels nice to be recognized. Encourage your people to keep a sharp eye out for those who are exemplifying your values in a particularly noticeable way.
Ask them to put it in an email, and share four or five examples at the meeting. It'll drive home your values as well as the awesomeness of the folks around you.
7. Share the spotlight.
Company meetings are the perfect occasion for your employees to get to know their leaders better. Spread out the responsibilities listed above with your executive team.
It's one thing to lead a small group, and another to put together a presentation and perform it in front of a crowd. It's a valuable skill for an executive to have, and the vulnerabilities inherent in the process will humanize them in the eyes of their subordinates.
8. Make it personal.
Close the meeting with whatever has been uppermost in your thoughts regarding the company. Prepare these thoughts in advance. Don't rush them. Go into a quiet room, put on some good music and let your creative juices flow.
This is your chance to convey love, respect and gratitude to the people whose hard work is doing so much to help your dreams become a reality. It doesn't have to be perfect--if it comes from your heart, they'll feel it in theirs.