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Famously championed by some of the world’s leading tech giants, town hall meetings have become an increasingly popular method for bringing employees together to share news and make company announcements.
Internet search trend for the phrase 'virtual town hall' from 2017-2021. Source: explodingtopics.com
But this doesn’t mean all town halls are created equal. The success of your meeting can depend on choosing the right format to suit you and your business.
A town hall meeting is an ongoing, company-wide event that’s usually run by the chief executive officer (CEO). Its purpose is to update all employees on important happenings in the business, including information which may have traditionally been reserved for the leadership team.
Based around an executive presentation, employees are encouraged to participate in the meeting by asking questions, sharing departmental news and giving recognition for the achievements of others.
While smaller teams traditionally hold their town halls in-person, larger companies often hold hybrid or virtual events so that all staff can attend, no matter where in the world they’re located.
Running a town hall meeting with virtual attendees rather than to an in-person audience allows organisations to enjoy the benefits of remote communications while retaining the functionality and effectiveness of a traditional town hall meeting.
The first necessity for hosting a virtual town hall is a reliable webinar platform that can handle the full attendance list joining the conference seamlessly, and with features that help facilitate interactivity like polling, live chat and video Q&A mode. It can also be helpful to set up a dedicated space such as a small huddle room which the executive team can conduct the meeting from.
The benefits of running a virtual town hall for your organisation depend on the way you approach organising, communicating, and presenting the meeting. Remember, the point of a town hall is to encourage interactivity, so finding a way to create a meeting environment where employees feel included and are comfortable to have their say is key.
An effective virtual town hall meeting can have the following benefits:
While there’s no set rules around how often you should hold a town hall, if you want to truly leverage the benefits of improved company culture, staff morale and goal alignment it’s ideal to try and hold town halls regularly. If you’re a smaller business this could be weekly or fortnightly, or for larger organisations, monthly or quarterly.
Like any large meeting, you could potentially encounter some issues when hosting your town hall. The good news is that they’re almost always avoidable with the right planning and technology.
For example, if you are facing communication issues like low employee participation, there are some simple fixes to help employees feel comfortable speaking up in front of their peers.
You may also face some logistical challenges such as getting everybody together under the same roof at the same time, or not having enough space in your offices to fit everyone comfortably in the same room.
Almost all the potential problems that you can encounter with a town hall can be addressed by choosing to host your event online. Here’s how a virtual town hall can overcome some of the most common challenges organisations face.
Some personalities find it difficult to speak up in front of their peers, or you may have remote workers with language barriers and other roadblocks that make it difficult to ask important questions or feel included in the conversation. One way to overcome this is to choose a virtual conferencing platform that has a Q&A feature which gives everyone a chance to speak up. A live chat feature is also useful for allowing employees to submit questions in advance or anonymously.
If you have staff in different locations, getting everyone together at the same time can be a nightmare. Consider choosing an online webinar platform that has multiple options for how attendees can join the meeting, such as wide device compatibility and an option for joining audio-only. A good provider will also have the ability to record and even transcribe the meeting so that it can be sent out to all attendees who couldn’t attend live.
Sharing sensitive organisational information at scale can feel daunting, but with the right online platform, not only can access to your town hall be closely monitored either through holding a managed conference or with secure access codes but all the data captured during your event can be captured for your records.
Express Virtual Meetings are experts in managing professional and successful town hall meetings for leading organisations across Australia. On top of a range of great features such as managed Q&A sessions, live polling and secure registration processes, our team provides 24/7 support throughout the entire process.
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