Theory & Tips

How to Run a Stellar Town Hall Meeting

Post by
Bridgette Mabuto
How to Run a Stellar Town Hall Meeting

Company town hall meetings, also known as "all-hands" meetings, bring the team together to talk about challenges, share information, and contribute ideas. When done right, these meetings can be exciting, informative, and motivating. On the other hand, poorly organized meetings end up wasting time and might even negatively impact morale.

If you’re tasked with organizing a company town hall meeting, you should know that these meetings have changed over time. Initially a way for management to communicate with the rest of the company, these meetings now involve more interaction. What’s more, with the rise of hybrid and remote teams in many companies, town halls often happen online.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at what is a town hall meeting and discuss how to organize one that will engage and inspire your team.

Planning and Preparation

Use these tactics to prepare for a company town hall meeting that’s effective and informative:

  • Define Meeting Objectives: Decide why your town hall is happening. It could be about important business news, like big sales or a new product. Or maybe it’s to build trust or motivate the team. Knowing the goal helps plan the town hall meeting agenda, choose speakers, and figure out if you need extra sessions.
  • Set a Date and Time: Decide on a date early, taking into account different employee time zones. Make sure it works for everyone, including those with flexible schedules.
  • Build a Structured Agenda: Plan out a clear agenda once you have the date. Focus on two or three important things related to your goal. An average town hall should last 60 to 90 minutes. If it's shorter, you might miss out on good discussions. If it's longer, attendees might start losing interest, especially in virtual town hall meetings where distractions are a click away.
  • Prepare Engaging Presentations: Make your presentations interesting by adding visuals and important info. If possible, ask employees what they want to hear in advance.

Promotion and Communication

Company town hall meetings need to be completely inclusive. Here’s how to make sure everyone is included and aligned with the mission:

Let Everyone Know About the Meeting

Before your town hall, tell your team what the meeting is about and why it is important for them to attend, especially if it's the first time. Share the date well in advance, picking a time when people aren’t busy or on vacation.

Make sure to send out invites early with the date and time. Explain how an online town hall meeting works, and what everyone needs to do, and share any tech details. As it gets closer, share the meeting agenda with your team so that all members know what to expect. 

Focus on Open and Honest Communication

When it comes to the meeting, simplify your communication by speaking directly to your audience and avoiding elaborate presentation slides. Keep it informal and avoid any jargon or technical terms. 

If you need to deliver tough news during the meeting, be honest, avoid sugarcoating, and watch your body language. Remember to follow up with a positive focus, expressing faith in your team and discussing collective actions to overcome challenges.

If conflict arises when people are given an opportunity to speak, try to remain calm and view it as an opportunity for open communication.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Engagement and Interaction

So, how to put together effective town hall meetings that ensure employee engagement and foster a sense of belonging? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind: 

  • Start with a Fun Icebreaker: Your virtual town hall meeting doesn’t need to be too serious. Start your virtual town hall with a fun icebreaker using our slide decks over Zoom. Ask thoughtful or light-hearted questions and watch your team members share their answers. If possible, break the team into small groups for more interaction within the given time. An engaging opening captures everyone’s attention and keeps attendees engaged.
  • Celebrate Company Achievements: Create a sense of togetherness by celebrating your staff's achievements. Highlight individual or team successes, share milestones, and discuss business results. Showing appreciation for your team’s hard work is a great way to create a positive atmosphere.
  • Give Your Employees a Voice: Open the floor for the team to voice their concerns and share ideas. Dedicate time to a live Q&A session too. This shows your commitment to openness and transparency.
  • Share the Stage: Avoid leaving the whole event to the CEO and instead, allow your senior leadership team to speak as well. This allows you to create a more comprehensive and engaging experience for everyone. You can even invite an outside speaker to energize and motivate your employees. 

Handling Questions and Feedback

Make your company town hall meeting better by using tech for instant feedback. Whether it's an in-person, hybrid, or virtual meeting, tools like Slides with Friends' live polling feature give you an opportunity to collect feedback through graphs, bar charts, ratings, "per player" stats, and more.

Keep in mind that some participants might not feel comfortable asking challenging questions or voicing their complaints. Be sure to provide additional channels where they can do this, such as an interactive presentation, instant messaging or email. Having diverse feedback channels and tech tools ensures you really understand what people think, helping you improve each time.

You can even have your leadership/presenters to ask your audience a question. This will allow you to get instant feedback and make the communication more meaningful. 

Follow-up and Action Steps

After the town hall meeting, it's key to follow up. Summarize the main points and let everyone know what's happening next. This keeps everyone in the loop and shows that their thoughts matter. Clear communication after the meeting makes sure everyone is on the same page and ready for the next steps.

Your people will want to know that you and the rest of the leadership team listened to the concerns and suggestions that they raised during the company town hall meeting and that you're taking them seriously. 

So, make sure that you stay in contact with your people after the meeting and provide regular updates on what you're doing to resolve issues. You can post updates on your organization's intranet or blog, send out an email, or touch base personally. Also, use Slides with Friends’ interactive features to get an idea about how the meeting went and how to make future company town hall meetings better.

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