Town hall meeting is one of the important events for most of the large organizations. The company town hall is an annual or quarterly meeting that is attended by each and every employee of the organization. Town hall meetings help the CEOs to present the goals and objectives, recognition, awards and engage the employees in a variety of planning sessions.
Town hall meetings can be customized by including chat functionality for Q & A Surveys, real-time collaboration, polling etc that gives a completely interactive experience for the employees. There are no specific guidelines for holding Town Hall meeting. With the growth and development of technology, town hall meetings are seen to be conducted in different ways in recent years.
Town Hall Meetings are Good for Employees
There are a number of issues that occur in work place such as – error in handling customer orders, conducting employee attitude surveys, communication form management, breakdown in communication etc. The main issue is most of the managers feel that they are good communicators and it is the employees who don’t take the message properly. As employees are not a part of decision making and decisions made by management don’t reach the employees correctly, companies face a number of communication related issues.
A Town Hall meeting can be used to give or get information. One can schedule and conduct meeting with a specific purpose in the mind. For instance, a meeting can be used to announce a new benefit or clarify an issue of concern. If there are many issues to discuss, it is better to gather the employees in 2-3 sessions. Town hall meetings can be used to promote employee awareness of new marketing plans, launching a new product/service and build a better team spirit during prosperous times. On the contrary, one can conduct town hall meetings on lean times to communicate cost cutting plans or to describe the organizations efforts to make things better.
A town hall meeting can also be used as a medium to train employees or convey the organization’s message to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. It is one of the best ways for organizations to comply with the regulations that encourage or need employee training. Employees are encouraged to ask questions during town hall meeting, and it is advised to answer the questions openly and honestly. Managers and CEOs should remember that it is not essential to make decisions in the town hall meeting, as questions are raised. Rather, one should indicate that the issue will be evaluated and the employees will be informed regarding the same on later date.
Tips to host town hall meetings
There are a number of ways to host town hall meeting and create a constructive dialogue between the presenter and audience. Below are some tips that help you to make the town hall meeting a successful part of your employee strategy. The tips below reflect some best practices that are undertaken by large and big organizations to optimize the performance of town hall.
# Promote the event
There are different options and tools available that help you promote the town hall meeting in an effective manner. Make sure that the employees are aware of the guidelines and features. Make it open to all and allow them to participate virtually as well as in person. Consider posting podcasts of leaders talking about the event.
# Don’t overuse PowerPoint
Though audience loves power point presentations, it is advised to minimize the presentations. Try to make an eye contact with the audience and talk in an informative manner. This helps you engage your audience without much effort.
# Try to include non-leadership people
Having a project manager to launch a new product or give a business update. This gives the employees a good exposure and helps the town hall meeting to be relatable and dynamic.
# Opt for a panel discussion
It is better to opt for a panel discussion rather than asking the audience to offer up questions to the CEO. If no questions are posed, have a conversation fodder on hand. Have index cards in each seat to encourage audience to ask questions.
# Prepare the audience ahead of the event
Try to meet with live audience and talk to them about the topics, which you are going to discuss. Employees often feel nervous about asking questions. You should help them ease these concerns by preparing them in advance. When a good question is posed, encourage them to ask more in the way they framed with you.
# Make use of social media
Encourage the audience to post their thoughts throughout the event on social media. Employees should be allowed to see the conversation as it takes place to promote the engagement with the leaders. You can also stream the event live on the company portal to make sure that the employees outside the location can participate in the event. Make sure to provide all the updates on a timely basis through company’s blog and social media sites.
What to avoid in town hall meeting?
When giving a town hall, one should avoid the following things.
- Reading from the script and making the event less formal.
- Bullying the audience to get questions and making up the answers. You should never lie or try to finesse the answer, if you don’t know.
- Don’t overload the audience with huge information. If you have too much information, try to fit it in 2-3 meetings, rather than fitting it into one meeting.
- Avoid one-to-one talk with the employees. Town Hall meetings are meant to engage the employees, and hence one should pay attention t the reactions of the audience and react accordingly.
Town Hall meeting is a shining example of how leaders will be more engaged or engage the team. The more discretionary effort you get, the more innovation you are likely to generate. The above tips will work for every organization, and one can grab the attention of their employees and get people to look forward to town halls. A town hall could be a good start for communication and one should ensure that the next town hall is the part of a never-ending story of the organization.