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How to create a successful end-of-year meeting

Do you plan end-of-year meetings as part of your role?

How do you create compelling content?

How can repurposing benefit you?

If you want to know the steps you can take today to help your end-of-year internal communication, read on.

I’m delighted to welcome Usha Selvaraju to the All Things IC blog. She is Internal Communications Specialist at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD Business School), based in Switzerland.

She responded to my recent request via LinkedIn to share the love of IC. I really enjoyed reading this guest post and hope you do too.

Your future self is going to thank you for this article!

Usha is an experienced communicator, having spent almost 20 years in the world of Comms. She’s worked in both public and private sectors and spent the majority of her career as a communications professional in non-profit organisations. She was most recently part of the Communications team at Frontiers, the open-access scientific publisher and for the past 1.5 years has been leading internal communications at IMD, an award-winning academic institution.

I’ll hand you over.

Usha Selvaraju

An end-of-year community meeting to remember

I was out for a walk one evening. It’d been a long day. Huddled in my jacket with my headphones on, I listened to Rachel’s podcast on Repurposing Internal Communication and thought ”Hang on. I do that!”

As Rachel explains, repurposing is a great way to get more out of a piece of comms than you may have initially planned.

For my esteemed colleagues working in-house in internal comms, you’ll know that when it comes to an end-of-year All Hands* meeting, many of us often start panicking around October or November. What do we include? What do leave out? And most importantly: ack! Where’s the content!

An End-Of-Year company-wide meeting can be daunting to organise for any internal comms professional.

The trick is knowing what the purpose is and what matters to fit that purpose.

In our case, we knew our End-of-Year All Hands meeting (which are called Community Meetings at IMD) was supposed to be a celebration of our collective successes as a team, a moment to thank each other and acknowledge the great work we do as an institution.

Now. Most colleagues in other parts of our organisations might consider thank yous, kudos and celebrating internally as being easy to get right. But for us in internal comms, we know this is not always true.

Saying thank you, acknowledging an individual or a team’s effort and celebrating success can be delicate.

Done without seeking input, fact-checking and the right approvals, it can go horribly wrong with those who haven’t been recognised feeling left out or undervalued.

This is where planning and foresight comes in, which are cornerstones to getting the most out of repurposing content. It’s also a great opportunity for internal communication to shine and show its value.

With a little discipline and diligence, I had one of the smoothest experiences managing our End-Of-Year Community Meeting, which included curating all of the content for our President (80+ slides!) and developing the narrative with him. 99% of the meeting was about celebrating. (And no. No one said there were too many slides!)

Did I cram for that in October and November? No.

Did I have an elaborate system where I stored all the data to include, assets, etc.? Not even.

All I did was repurpose the content we shared during our regular Community Meetings and our intranet specifically for the End-of-Year one.

Now. I can hear you thinking “Oh so all you did was copy-paste from all previous Community Meetings and squash it into the End-of-Year.” No. Doing that would’ve been repetitive and boring.

Candid Comms How to repurpose your internal communication

Making informed decisions

By regularly compiling a list of all our previous successes as the year progressed, I was in a great position to make informed suggestions to our President as to what to include and how. I could see patterns in the achievements we made that no one else could and could repurpose the content to fit the narrative we’d chosen.

How I repurposed

Each quarter, I put together a Word document listing our key achievements that I added to progressively. At the end of each quarter, I sent the list along to our Chief of Staff for a quick check to make sure nothing was missed. Doing this each quarter ensured the list wasn’t long and wasn’t time consuming for him to go through.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d initially thought preparing the last Community Meeting of the year would be a massive job. And it was. But spread out over the year and with the foresight of “Hey, this could be cool to acknowledge” was really helpful.

My parting thought? This isn’t rocket science. It just took a little discipline and planning.

If you’re worried about your End of Year All Hands, making a little effort to plan for it each quarter will hold you in good stead.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you do to prepare for an End-of-Year All Hands? What do you see works?

*All Hands meetings are ones to which all employees are invited. Senior executives usually share critical business updates and discuss matters that are relevant to the organization as a whole.

Post author:  Usha Selvaraju.

Thank you Usha. I hope you enjoyed reading this article too.

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First published on the All Things IC blog 11 February 2022.

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