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Top considerations when hosting a town hall meeting
Image by Jimmy Foulds

4 min read

Top considerations when hosting a town hall meeting

Running out of things to talk about in your next town hall meeting? Here’s how to prepare for them and address things your employees likely want to know about your company but don’t.

You’ll be surprised how little most people know about their own company, let alone articulate what they do to the outside world. Rarely do leaders devote time to informing employees about simple business facts that make a difference.

Why not take the next all-employee meeting to talk about things your employees are actually interested in?

What’s the importance of town hall meetings?

All-hands meetings, town halls, company forums, whatever you call them, are a chance to relay crucial information, rally your team, and align everyone behind the strategic roadmap for the next little while.

Nowadays, talent holds relationships, the environment, and structure equally important as the work and job itself. They’re much more interested in clear alignment and understanding of a company’s values and culture than bigger paychecks or “benefits” like flexible work. A town hall meeting is a place where you can gather everyone and remind them of organizational values and strengthen culture.

Preparing for your all-hands meeting 

Depending on the size of your organization, preparing for a comprehensive, constructive, yet lively town hall meeting isn’t an easy task. While these virtual get-togethers are meant to include and unite everyone in your company, leaders also risk revealing poor execution, excluding people, or just leaving a bad (boring) impression in general. Make sure you have these aspects covered ahead of time:

Having a purpose for your event

How do you run a meaningful town hall meeting? The most successful company gatherings have a clear, articulate purpose. Whether it’s to present this year’s objectives to renew focus, or celebrating a huge milestone, make sure you’re not organizing a town hall just because it’s become routine. When you create a strong foundation for the event, not only does planning become more cohesive, but you can also measure outcomes to gauge whether or not the session was worthwhile.

The logistics

Who’s hosting the event? Do you have a lineup of presenters and a moderator to manage the live discussion chat? Consider the platforms and technology you’re using to host the meeting, and don’t forget to select a meeting time and duration that would work best for the majority of your employees.

Event promotion

It’s an all-hands meeting—certainly, you want all hands on deck! Get your RSVPs by promoting the event, whether it be through a couple of emails, calendar invites, or creating some buzz on your company intranet. If you’re asking for one hour of every employee’s workday, make sure you have an enticing event description and a clear agenda. This will help people tune in to the theme of the meeting, as well as brainstorm any questions they might have in advance. Of course, if the town hall meeting is mandatory, state that clearly on the meeting invite.

Allow time for discussion

Almost every town hall meeting has a designated Q&A section. Not only do your employees want to make use of some air time with the CEO or whoever’s hosting it, but it’s a valuable opportunity to collect opinions and gauge engagement. Sourcing interesting questions in advance will allow executives to prepare thorough answers.

Incorporate some social element

After all, a town hall meeting is the chance to bring everyone closer together. Why not make it fun or celebrate some worthy achievements? Whether it be through a company trivia quiz, giving out some shout-out to helpful teammates, a networking session, or a quick virtual happy hour, it’s always nice to add a relaxing activity to mark the end of the quarter (or however frequently you host these meetings).

Follow up and share the recording

Last but not least, provide a recap for those who want to revisit the meeting content. Store the recording in your shared company drive or your intranet’s library for easy access. Follow up regularly with the next steps you mentioned, or even launch an employee feedback survey to check in on things you can improve for the next town hall.

Interesting topics for a company forum

Apart from recognizing your people, sharing wins, and being transparent about losses, there are tons more you can dive deeper into during these gatherings. Here are some interesting areas to address in your all-hands if you’d like to educate your employees to become your best brand amplifiers. Who knows, you may even be able to crowdsource some game-changing strategies to implement!

Here's a handy infographic created by the team at Venngage, and you'll find more detailed explanations below:  Things_your_employees_want_to_know_but_probably_don’t_-_high_-_resol

Organizational goals: What’s the focus for next year? Explain what metrics the company measures success with and the key strategies that will move you closer to achieving those specific goals.

The competitive landscape: Gather some analytics and present all the major players in the industry to your employees. What positions does your company take to differentiate itself from the crowd?  

Your company’s history: What idea prompted the company’s founding 30 years ago? Can your employees articulate the origin story of your organization? Knowing the original inspiration will help employees relate better to the company’s values, direction, and vision.

Escalating issues: Show that you care about workplace issues and take them seriously. How does an employee report something bad at work, especially when their manager is the one at fault?

Public-facing content guidelines: Is there a way everyone should write when representing the company? This is especially useful when you have a larger team that deals with customer emails and communication.

Providing feedback to leadership: How do I suggest a company initiative? Who do I go to with a great idea for our product or service?

Remind people about their perks: It leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths if they missed out on bonuses or a learning budget that wasn’t made clear. Is there a referral program when hiring? When exactly can I exercise my stock options? If there are changes to your employee handbook, make sure to announce them, so everyone is informed.

New employees and those who are leaving: Take some time to toast those leaving and thank them for their contributions. And don’t forget to welcome those who are joining the crew!

Conclusion

A company all-hands meeting is a perfect time to remind employees that you’re walking the walk and care about them. Through discussing different workplace matters, know that it’s a crucial touchpoint to engaging them—it’s their business too.

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