Will You Pass the Annual Checkup?
Why your annual meeting can make or break your company culture
It’s that time of year again. E-vites have been sent. Calendars have been marked. Business casual clothing carefully selected and pressed. It’s not Thanksgiving at your aunt’s house – it’s your annual company meeting!
If you didn’t hear a game show announcer reading that like you’ve just won a new car, your experience with annual meetings is probably like the majority of professionals.
It may sound something like: “Yeah, we went to this hotel meeting room. For 45 minutes, they played an AC/DC song, and the CEO talked about how we should all be working harder. And I only ended up getting half a sandwich and a bag of pretzels for lunch.”
If you’ve experienced something similar, we can commiserate. If you’re the one who planned such a meeting, well then you’ve landed at the right place.
Company culture is extremely important because it touches every department, every employee. Like character, culture is what happens when no one is looking. A healthy, positive culture motivates healthy, positive workers, and every company benefits from that.
The Power of an Annual Meeting
Annual meetings, therefore, are the perfect time to improve, instill and inspire the kind of company culture you’ve always wanted. Why? The troops are gathered. Leadership is gathered. Since you have everyone in the same place, why not go ahead and get on the same page?
One mistake with annual meetings can be the temptation for the C-level suits to overshare. This may be the one time a year you’re able to communicate with your team in person, but that doesn’t mean they can digest a year’s worth of strategies and planning.
Instead of a 15-point plan for how to increase productivity, how about just three? Make them easy to understand, and they will be easy to remember all year. Over-communicating can often lead to a failure to communicate at all.
The second hallmark of a poor annual meeting is simply poor logistics, which can make even the most well-oiled company look sloppy. Conversely, a well-planned, well-executed annual event could make even the newest startup seem like they’re the next Tesla.
For example, Mattress Firm came to us looking for a fresh, new way to do annual meetings. Until then, they had always gone with the traditional stage in front, chairs in rows, couches on stage route. And that’s where we started.
We found a great new venue that provided a theater in the round setup – circular stage in the center of the room with stadium seating all around. The venue held 1,200 Mattress Firm employees, but even those on the back row were no more than 80 feet from the stage. This created a feeling of engagement and involvement their previous setup couldn’t.
For on-screen presentations, we put monitors on the walls behind the seats, so audience members watched the screens opposite them in the bowl. This further added to the feeling of inclusiveness: they could see each other, see the speaker and see the information being presented without straining their necks or having to squint their eyes from the back of the room.
The event was an overwhelming success, and we’ve gone on to put on many more events for Mattress Firm, each one different from the last. Thinking outside the box is great, but we always make sure our creativity serves the greater purpose: putting on an amazing annual meeting for our clients.