Townhall meetings provide a way for the management of a company to connect with employees. They help to close the gap between management and employees and build corporate culture. Employees may attend a townhall meeting at a physical venue like a conference hall or participate via virtual platforms such as Zoom or Google Meets.
Management must decide whether to hold physical, virtual, or hybrid town hall meetings. Virtual townhall meetings are becoming the norm due to the increase in remote employees. They are essentially the same as in-person townhalls but employees can participate from any location as long as they have good internet.
Virtual town halls have no venue costs and save time as there is no need to find or book a venue. There are no travel or accommodation costs. A hybrid option means employees can choose which option suits them best. Venue costs are lower than for in-person events and there are fewer travel and accommodation costs. In this blog we’ll show you the ultimate tips for organizing the best townhall meeting!
Why town hall meetings matter in the modern world
In Ancient Greece, townhalls or ‘assemblies’ gave citizens a voice and made them feel they had a say. Today, the main purpose of town hall meetings is not that different. They give employees and other stakeholders the opportunity to ask questions, discuss important issues, and share information and feedback. These meetings take place on a regular basis and offer the following advantages.
- Establish trust and mutual respect. Without this, it’s impossible to have an effective workforce in the modern world.
- Reinforce company culture and values. Employees want to feel that they are part of something larger than themselves.
- Promote transparency. Employers expect management to be open to accepting feedback.
- Create a collective sense of purpose. Management and employees must be driven by the same goals and not all have their own agendas.
- Build momentum to help achieve strategic goals. Without regular town halls, there may not be the drive and motivation that’s necessary for an organization to achieve its goals.
- Give an opportunity for asking questions and getting clarification. Employees can receive answers to their questions and get clarity about issues they may be struggling with.
A townhall should be an engaging two-way conversation that offers value to management and employees. It usually begins with a speech by the CEO or meeting host. Some organizations use a different host each time to make meetings more informal and engaging.
A good tip is to welcome participants as they join the meeting and to include a short ice-breaker activity. Icebreakers can help to set the mood and make employees feel more comfortable about contributing and sharing.
Team-building activities can help employees to connect with one another. This can create more unity between team members and between different departments.
Celebrating employee achievements at the end of town hall meetings can promote a high-performance culture and a sense of belonging. This may include client wins, work anniversaries, or even short award ceremonies. Employees appreciate these celebrations and they can help to motivate them.
Setting clear objectives before the meeting
Before holding a town hall meeting it is important to define its objectives. It may be to share details about a new product, explain a change the company is going through, or provide sales updates. Consider the following questions when setting objectives.
- What is the purpose of the event?
- What is the expected outcome?
- Which messages would best achieve these expected outcomes?
- What type of content would convey the messages best? This may include video content, slide decks, images, etc.
It is also important to consider what speakers could achieve the purpose best. Choosing a moderator helps to facilitate the session as they queue in employee questions. Having tech support can make a difference in case of tech problems.
When setting a date and time it is important to take into account the availability of employees. Keep in mind factors like time zones, major deadlines, and work priorities.
It’s important to confirm ahead of time how many participants there will be. It is necessary to know this to plan the agenda and any team-building sessions. Any activities and sessions must align with the purpose of the event.
Choosing the right frequency for town hall meetings is important. Hold them too often and employees are less likely to attend. However, not holding them often enough can affect the sense of unity a town hall fosters.
The average town hall meeting usually runs for about 60 to 90 minutes. Longer than this and attention will diminish. Shorter than this and there won’t be enough time for valuable discussion.
Leveraging technology for engagement
To hold a successful town hall meeting it is important to get the technology right. There is more to a virtual town hall than just setting up a video call. This is particularly true if there are many employees in multiple locations. This is often the case today, even in small organizations.
- A secure, stable, easy-to-use platform:The video conferencing platform must be easy to use, stable, and secure. It should also offer quality and speed. It helps to use an all-inclusive platform that allows for streaming of the meeting, video-on-demand, screen sharing, surveys, polls, etc.
- Interactive elements: The platform should support interactive elements such as live polls, surveys, and live chat. This is necessary to facilitate collaborative QA&A sessions.
- Customization options should be available with the use of modern video technology. These may include the use of branding elements and can even involve using sentiment icons in polls and surveys.
- Live streaming and video-on-demand: After live streaming of an event there should be the capability to turn it into video-on-demand (VOD). VOD can benefit those who couldn’t attend a meeting. It can also give attendees an opportunity to refresh their memories at a time that suits them best.
- Elements like calls-to-action and annotations make VOD more interactive. Subtitles make video content more accessible to a wider audience. Keeping all past meeting recordings as organized, accessible, and optimized video content can be an excellent resource for organizations.
- Scalable solutionsare necessary for larger organizations to be able to live stream to large audiences. A simple video conferencing solution won’t work for this purpose.
Getting ready for a town hall meeting
It helps to compile a comprehensive checklist to ensure a townhall runs smoothly. There are many different things that need to take place to prepare for it.
Finalize the agenda: It helps to do an online poll beforehand and allow employees to vote on what concerns they want to address. If certain concerns come up multiple times, they can inform the agenda. When planning the agenda, it’s important to include the timing for each section. Each presenter should get a chance to run through a presentation beforehand to make sure it isn’t too lengthy. A virtual town hall agenda could look like this:
- An introduction and ice-breaker (10 mins)
- A quick sales and marketing results update (5 mins)
- Key product features launching this week or month (15 mins)
- Q&A session (20 mins)
- Monthly celebrations (10 mins)
Test the technology: Testing the technology is crucial prior to the event. You don’t want to experience lagging or poor-quality video. Everyone must be comfortable with the technology. Wi-Fi strength, devices, and microphones must be working properly. All the interactive elements must also work correctly. A test run allows time to troubleshoot, find potential problems and fix them, It’s important to have a backup plan in case of Wi-Fi failure.
Communicate with employees: It’s important to communicate what employees need to know about the time and venue. Make sure to decide on a date and time and let them know well in advance so they clear their calendars. Send out invites with the rules and agenda so they know what to expect. For example, there may be a rule that they need to mute their mics when they aren’t speaking. Explain how the live stream will work, and when they will get the opportunity to contribute. Employees can receive pre-event updates and reminders before the event takes place.
Prepare content: It’s best to think beyond slides for presentations to be truly engaging. A combination of video content, audio, and images can all work well together to make a meeting more compelling. One to two weeks prior to the meeting, collect content from speakers. Draft a Q&A document and circulate it to leaders who will need to field questions.
Set up a seamless registration process: Setting up a smooth registration process is important to gather participant information and ensure smooth check-in.
Ensure security: Security is critical when holding a virtual town hall meeting. Data security measures need to be in place to prevent classified information from leaking. Ensure that only the right people have access to confidential company information by using good security measures.
Measuring success and gathering feedback
It’s important to identify what data to collect and to develop a plan for collecting it. Success metrics to measure could include attendance figures and the number of questions attendees ask.
A survey can help to generate feedback after an event. Ask participants what they enjoyed, disliked, and what could have been better. This can help with making improvements before the next meeting takes place.
Unlike in-person townhalls, virtual ones can provide a host of different analytics. This helps with understanding exactly what worked and what didn’t. Organizations can view real-time data to see how participants react to the information being presented.
Cincopa’s solution for Townhall Meetings
By using the Cincopa platform organizations can take their townhall meetings to the next level.
- Cincopa uses a Content Delivery Network (CDN) solutionto make sure that all participants receive fast and high-quality content delivery. There is no video buffering of freezing that will interrupt a town hall meeting.
- Organizations can livestream their town hall meetings without any difficulties. They can also record and save them for viewing at a later stage as on-demand video content. It is possible to organize this content in a way that makes it easy to find.
- Participants can easily share screens or documents. Elements, such as polls, surveys, and quizzes allow them to interact in meetings.
- Responsive image galleries and slideshows can automatically adjust to fit all screen sizes. Participants in town hall meetings will have a seamless viewing experience no matter which device type they use.
- One platform centralizes a variety of digital assets such as video, audio, and images. This offers the flexibility necessary to manage and distribute them.
- Customization options are available for town hall meetings. Organizations can use their brand colors, and customize many other elements.
- On-video elements such as calls-to-action and annotations on videos increase engagement. Video content is accessible to more people by adding subtitles and closed captions in different languages.
- The platform is scalable and suitable for live streaming to audiences of any size.
- Cincopa has high-level privacy and security options. It offers encryption, password protection, and much more. For example, using domain lock can ensure that video content is only displayed on specific websites.
- The advanced analytics tools on the platform offer a range of insights. Organizations can get statistics on who is watching and from where. They can find out specific data about individual viewers such as their viewing time, average engagement, and the devices and platforms they use. Using video heatmaps allows them to see how their engagement changes in real time.
Organizing a successful town hall meeting requires careful planning and attention to detail. From creating an agenda to choosing technology and measuring success, there are many elements to consider. Virtual town hall meetings are common today as they offer a solution for bringing employees together from different locations. Delivering them properly has many benefits for an organization and choosing the correct platform for this is essential.