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How to Lead an Enchanting All-Hands

Six months before we were slated to run out of money, I led the most emotional All-Hands of my career.

I stood in front of my team and told them I’d be devastated if our Series A failed. Because I loved working with them. I had tears in my eyes. There was barely a dry eye in the room.

Because of that talk, even when it came down to weeks of cash left in the bank, not a single person left the company.

I’ve run tear-jerking All-Hands where you can hear a pin drop. I did this by communicating so authentically and from my core, all time and space stood still.

Don’t waste an All-Hands by boring your team!

I’m going to share with my best practices for communicating in an enchanting, authentic way to have all of your team’s eyes and hearts locked onto you.

Every All Hands is a golden opportunity to leave your team inspired.

Put another way, it’s an incredibly expensive meeting, so don’t waste it.

For an early-stage team of 20, one All-Hands meeting is worth almost $3,000 in salaries.

If you do them monthly, that’s $36,000 a year.

If you do them weekly, that’s $150,000 a year!

Don’t make the All Hands a simple status update. For that kind of money, you are investing into a performance that should evoke an emotional response that unifies your team.

Have a clear outcome of what action you want your team to take.

If you don’t have a clear outcome from your All Hands, it shows. It feels like a boring status update.

So spend 10 minutes away from your laptop reflecting on what a kick-ass All Hands would look like afterwards.

What would your team commit to start or do better if you rocked it?

Don’t be afraid to let the audience have negative feelings.

Every great story arc has its point of conflict, where you don’t know if the hero will lose or win.

The same goes for an All Hands. Leaders often want to paint the rosiest picture of how they are always winning and that’s plain BORING. And never true.

If you want to galvanize your team to action, you need to lead them on a journey where they feel at least one positive and one negative emotion.

Negative can mean urgency because of a fast-moving competitor or fear of the unknown as the market changes. Positive is the hope of a better product with the next launch or courage as you approach a new branding strategy or price increase.

Why should your team care?

Answer this question from your team’s perspective, “What’s in it for me?”

Why should they care about the message you are going to deliver?

Yes, I KNOW they are required to join the meeting. But you haven’t gotten them emotionally opted-in to the meetings.

Humans are self-focused and always unconsciously asking what’s in it for them. So get ahead of your team’s question and ANSWER IT FOR THEM.

Maybe they joined to learn how to build a rocketship. Remind them that a rocketship hits turbulence, but this is going to be a huge growth period!

Maybe they want their equity to build in value. Tell them how big companies had scary periods of unknown in order to grow big!

All Hands meetings add up to critical moments for leaders to step into their power and inspire. Make your next one count!

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