all hands meeting

What is an “All-Hands Meeting”? (Meaning and Usage)

You know the feeling when you keep hearing an expression that you can’t for your life figure out what it means, yet everyone else seems to know, which is making you a little embarrassed to even ask. One of those expressions and terms is an all-hands meeting.

What is an all-hands meeting, where does the name come from and what are all-hands meetings good for? Let’s find out.

The Meaning of an All-Hands Meeting

Holding staff meetings and reunions is part of most company routines, but in most cases, meetings tend to be held with only a few people. When you hear the phrase “all-hands meeting,” it means that a meeting is going to be held with everyone who works within a company.

These types of massive meetings aren’t necessarily common in all businesses, but it is an excellent opportunity to give everyone a chance to speak, and for management to get a better idea of the existing opinions and thoughts among the workers.

While the term originally refers to everyone being present, some opt for holding all-hands meetings within a certain department or area within the company, and this is especially true for larger companies where it would be difficult to get everyone to join.

All-hands meetings tend to be held when there is important information that needs to be communicated to a large group of workers, as this allows for information to be passed out to everyone at the same time. It lowers the risk of miscommunication by having information spread from one staff member and to another, as everyone receives the same information.

How to Use the Phrase

Using the phrase “all-hands meeting” is very simple and straightforward. You can use it in a sentence such as “an all-hands meeting will be held at 4:00 PM on Friday the 14th” or in a more casual setting by asking a coworker this: “Are you going to the all-hands meeting?”.

You can almost compare these meetings to old town hall meetings where everyone in town was invited to join – both to hear all the latest news, listen to others speak, and to voice their own opinions. The purpose of an all-hands meeting is very similar.

Why is it called an “all-hands meeting”?

One might think that the name comes from having all hands – all workers – present at the same time during the meeting, and while it is partially correct, the name actually originates from another phrase!

The expression “all hands on deck” is what originally inspired the name! Back in the days, this was used mostly on ships to let the whole crew know that it was either time to board the ship, or for everyone to come up on deck.

An all-hands meeting asks everyone to come aboard and be in a certain location at the same time, to listen to what someone has to say.

Reasons to Hold an All-Hands Meeting

The main reason someone might opt to hold an all-hands meeting is to facilitate communication. It means you won’t have to repeat the same thing over and over again to different people, you make sure everyone hears it and that everyone hears the same thing, and you also get a chance to connect with your workforce.

All hands meeting or All-hands meeting?

You should include the hyphen when you want to write all-hands meeting.


Holding an all-hands meeting can help strengthen the sense of community and union within a company, as everyone gets an equal chance to participate and obtain information. It also saves time as everyone is informed simultaneously, and prevents miscommunication.

Experts recommend holding all-hands meetings at least a couple of times a year to make sure everyone feels heard and included while also staying connected within your own company.