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How to maximise town hall meetings

Just how important it is to involve your employees in the strategic direction your company is going? To deny your team of this chance is to underestimate the abilities of your team and to vitally underuse a strength in your company.

Just how important it is to involve your employees in the strategic direction your company is going?  To deny your team of this chance is to underestimate the abilities of your team and to vitally underuse a strength in your company.

Make Town Halls meetings count 

In the wake of the latest challenge facing all companies, the dreaded budget, it is important to ensure that the return on meetings like this make them cost effective and worthwhile, and the best way to look at this is to simply ask. A quick feedback form can be the difference between hosting a successful event and staring out at a sea of disinterested faces as they look back at you wishing they were somewhere else. Add helpful suggestions, such as “Should we send out our agenda ahead of time?” or “Should we vote on sections of the suggested content?” and actively seek constructive comments and ideas. Don’t forget, when you get your feedback, highlight it to the rest of your employees and say what you plan to do with it. A culture of learning and growth in your company starts with you, by  listening and learning and showing your team that you are flexible in your approach to these meetings.

Most importantly show that you are willing to adapt to what best suits you and the high level decisions being made to achieve this. Then we started to consider how we get our employees involved and how we help other companies to spread their message to their employees. We have recently had some opportunities to assist companies to organise town hall meeting events for their staff. Town hall meetings are either quarterly or monthly updates delivered by senior leadership teams. Here they can efficiently update an entire team on business decisions, strategic plans, as well offering recognition for employee achievements. By gaining immediate access to your entire workforce you eliminate the need for a trickle down method of information sharing, which can often lead to mixed or even missed messages and a feeling of detachment from the ‘bigger business picture’ by employees. 

We recently had the pleasure of working with Convatec to host their bi-annual town hall meetings by enabling them to use interactive tools during their globally broadcast event to their entire workforce.  They adopted a hybrid approach to their town hall meetings, with some teams being able to attend in real life while, depending on location, other teams join virtually. To guarantee that the level of engagement is felt evenly across the two mediums we created interactive tools such as polling plus questions and answering features and virtual workshopping sessions to ensure that everyone came away from the event feeling that they had the opportunity to get involved and felt part of the next steps of the company. 

Tips for hosting a successful town hall meeting:

Offer everyone a chance to be heard
The most important thing you can do is consider the agenda and consider your medium. Regardless of whether your meeting is going to be a hybrid, purely virtual or entirely in person it’s important to ensure a different delivery for content to keep your audience engaged and on message. Consider adding videos, slides, talks, votes or panel sessions. We have had great success helping the Convatec team unite by offering the team the opportunity to be heard via interactive polls, Q and A sessions, breakouts and workshops. 

Keep your content moving
Keep your presentations short and sweet by taking a leaf out of Apple’s book and keep your content moving. Apple found that the neuroscience of the human brain’s attention span is more likely to stay engaged in a presentation that has frequent changes around every ten minutes. This doesn’t mean that you have to limit your points to this long, but make a change or a break in the way you are presenting it, consider adding a second speaker to share the stage with you, or even add a quick question session. 

What format works best for your business?
Consider the pros and cons of the different formats your event could follow- Would your company benefit from an in person meeting a few times a year? Can your company logistically all get together that often? Would a hybrid event approach suit your employees more? Remembering that not many companies are all in one office anymore, perhaps you could have the convenience of a virtual ticket for inclusion but still have a live audience to positively impact on atmosphere and feedback. Potentially the location of the event could move around and could be held in different locations convenient and meaningful to your employees as a way to include everyone or even recognise good practise. The possibilities are endless. Remember, if you are lucky enough to be part of a team that works in different time zones, finding a time to go live that will suit everyone can be tricky, but people will appreciate the effort of your trying, and a recording that can be shown to teams the following day can still include many of the interactive features of the live broadcast that can then be fed back upon watching. 

How time for interaction
Create space in your meeting- don’t forget that the whole idea of a town hall meeting is to hear the voices of your employees, so as tempting as it can be to create a very polished and professional presentation about your company direction and announcements, make sure that when you set out the initial rough times of the meeting you make it clear that there will also be a space for your employees to check in with you, share news of their own and share 

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