When it comes to communicating major company news and information, virtual town hall meetings are an effective way to engage your employees and connect with them.
They are a great way to get in touch with your remote team, but it can be challenging to know the best ways to prepare.
If you don’t want to plunge your employees asleep in front of their laptops during some of the most important company meetings, keep on reading! We’ll go over our top tips on how to host a successful Virtual Town Hall Meeting.
Introduction to Town Hall Meetings
What is a virtual town hall meeting?
A virtual town hall meeting is an event hosted online to keep employees and stakeholders informed about numbers, business health, strategy updates, changes in the organization or board, and any other major company news.
It allows companies to be transparent and keep an open communication channel with their workforce while they keep working from home or another country.
Usually, it is held by a few speakers only, speaking to a large audience.
You can think of it as a regular in-person quarterly/yearly meeting, but here, held online.
What’s the origin of a Town Hall Meeting?
Originally, town hall meetings were a common form of open dialogue between citizens and elected officials, such as mayors, senators, etc.
Nowadays, many companies have adopted the concept to make it part of their corporate communication.
Which companies shall host a virtual town hall meeting?
This approach is usually more suitable for companies that have large-scale workforces.
However, town hall meetings are becoming more popular with smaller organizations too. Indeed, it allows them to connect more officially with their employees and also forces them to take the time to approach and analyze the important data.
And we all know that in a startup or a fast-paced environment, we can all tend to let that part to a later time!
How often shall you run a Town Hall meeting?
Most virtual town halls are held every quarter, semester, or year. Many medium-sized companies organize one at the end or beginning of the calendar year for example and seize that opportunity to share their New Year wishes to the employees.
However, it often depends on the needs of the company and how fast they evolve, and how quickly they wish to relay their news.
Why are virtual town halls important for companies?
Hosting a virtual town Hall Meeting requires preparation but has its advantages. Here is why you should consider running one:
Communicate the Company News
The virtual town hall is a great opportunity to keep employees updated about the company strategy and important news.
Wide and International Communication
It allows a company to inform its workforce more easily and globally, especially if your workforce is composed of employees split around the globe.
Get the workforce together
In large-scale companies, it happens that the different teams or departments do not meet, talk to each other, or even know who is who.
This type of wide meeting is the occasion to put a face on the leaders of the company or that one person that’s been emailing you for so long and that you never were able to meet! 😉
Now, with virtual town halls, you won’t be able to meet in person, but keeping the videos on can already be the first step!
Get feedback from employees
It is also an opportunity to hear the employees out, the ideas they might have for the business, or their questions. Leaders can also get a better vision of how the employees feel at work or about the strategy in place.
Enhance Company Transparency
The virtual town hall meeting helps with the creation of a transparent corporate culture by allowing employees to be informed about any current events.
Large Cost Savings
Organizing a virtual Town Hall Meeting instead of an in-person one will allow you to give the business updates to all employees without investing a big budget in the planning of such a big session.
Just imagine how much money and time you would invest if you had to bring your teammates from different states or countries into a single place.
Thanks to high-performing technology, you can now just take this evening a digital setting and invite everyone to join the presentation and discussion from the comfort of their home.
How to prepare for a Virtual Town Hall Meeting?
Alright, no pressure there, but a Town Hall Meeting is dedicated to addressing a – very – large audience including remote teams but also possibly collaborators and stakeholders.
So you might wanna come prepared! 😉
Choose the right slot
First, you need to think about your virtual town hall meeting time slot. You want people to be available and in front of their computer when the virtual Town Hall Meeting starts.
If your team members are working from different states or countries, you should make sure your time slot is suitable for the several concerning time zones.
Plan the meeting objective and agenda
You should have a clear vision of what is the objective of the meeting and the topic you want to communicate on.
Once it is done, plan a detailed agenda for your Town Hall Meeting. Split the information into different sections or even think about a second session if the content is too heavy.
Pick your video conferencing software carefully
A virtual town hall meeting is as good as the video conferencing software you are choosing. Indeed, you need a sound and clear connection for your meeting to be efficient.
We also recommend that the solution you chose has a chat or some kind of interactive platform for the attendees to be able to react without having their micro open.
Last but not least, it’s important that the video call solution you choose allows you to invite enough attendees to join. Some video conferencing applications have a limit on the number of people who can participate.
Invite everyone with anticipation
The next step is to send out a virtual town hall invitation to everyone that needs to be there.
Make sure you plan the Town Hall Meeting at least one week ahead so your teammates can actually make it!
A good tip is also to ask the future audience directly in the invite if they would like to send questions in advance, know more, or discuss some major topics.
The ones who are company matters can then be included in the agenda, whereas the other ones, too focused, can be answered by email later on. In that way, attendees will feel like they are being heard.
Prepare your Content
Make sure that you have all the information ready to share with your virtual audience. The Town Hall Meeting will only be effective if you have a precise and clear message on what is going on in the business, what are the upcoming evolutions or changes.
Think about different mediums such as videos, slides, graphs, animated designs, games, and more!
No secret here… Taking this meeting seriously means practicing beforehand! This is a huge element to get ready.
As we saw earlier, your virtual audience will be composed of not only colleagues but also business partners and stakeholders.
You should therefore think about writing down what you want to say, how you want to say it, and prepare your virtual presentation.
Tips on How to run successful Town halls
Have a clear leader speaker or host
A virtual Town Hall Meeting is a meeting, and as such, it should be led by someone.
For this reason, you should consider choosing one of your speakers or even a designated host to run this virtual town hall speech. The host should introduce speakers, talk directly to the audience, but also summarize the important information at the end of the virtual meeting.
Define a moderator
Other than the host and the speakers, it’s always a good idea to have a moderator.
Moderators should be in charge of filtering questions from virtual participants, help with tech problems, or check if that the timing of the agenda is being respected.
To make the moderator’s job easier, you could have a virtual chat open on the solution so he could interact more easily with online participants.
Start with icebreaker questions
To set the tone and break the ice, you should start with some warm-up questions. This can add a bit of fun and relax everyone before discussing the sensitive talking points.
Those questions can be closed ones if the audience is large. If your virtual meeting conversation is smaller, then it’s good to ask a more specific question or make a poll for attendees to interact with each other.
Keep it simple
Ensure vocabulary is accessible to all virtual participants and steer clear of industry jargon when possible.
Depending on the virtual meeting room, people can come from different backgrounds or work in very diverse departments.
So it’s always best to keep it simple for a better understanding of the attendees, but also short and precise.
Respect the agenda and timing
This tip sounds easy but believe us, this is one of the hard ones!
When you start presenting in real-time, your timing sense can be very different from reality. And nothing more annoying than a person that keeps talking and talking.
So as a virtual meeting speaker, try to resist the temptation and respect the agenda. Sure you can add some details here and there but don’t go too much in-depth.
Depending on how many speakers there are, you can consider fixing a limit for every talk and have the moderator make sure they do not go beyond their time!
Keep your audience engaged and your meeting interactive
With so many people attending virtual town halls, it can be easy for employees to feel overwhelmed or even disengaged.
To avoid this, your virtual town hall should be structured in a way that you can encourage discussion, questions and keep your audience engaged.
You can also include activities, questions, different types of content, videos, games, jokes, and more. Anything but a boring presentation!
A great tip to do so is also to have different speakers interacting with the audience so that there is a change in the tone of voice and rhythm.
Celebrate Employees’ Birthdays
The cherry on the top, don’t forget to celebrate out loud the connected participants who have their Birthday that day. A little attention can go a long way!
Virtual town hall meetings are an excellent way to connect with virtual employees and bridge the distance. They’re a chance for you to stay in touch with your staff, but also let them know about any changes that may be coming down the pipeline or big announcements from corporate headquarters.
As host of this virtual meeting, it’s important to prepare beforehand and remember a few guidelines stated above during the event.
We hope you enjoyed our article and stay tuned with us for more tips on virtual team building and workplace advice!