Now more than ever, it’s crucial to ensure that your employees feel connected, supported, and informed—and town hall meetings are the perfect way to do just that.
Whether you’re briefing your company on upcoming launches or celebrating a recent success, town halls are an effective and engaging way to unite your teams and underscore the importance of every employee. And though these meetings have traditionally happened in person, they can be just as impactful in a virtual setting.
Like any other virtual event, a virtual town hall requires specific preparation. But with a few key tips—plus expert advice from our Chief of Staff, Jenna Wollemann—your next town hall is sure to be a success.
Start with Setting Goals
“The first thing I’d recommend doing is setting a goal for your virtual town hall,” says Wollemann. Begin by contemplating the one or two key takeaways you want your audience to leave with, and then work backwards from those points. Are you communicating a change in leadership or the implementation of a new process? Is there something new and noteworthy happening internally that you hope to celebrate? Or is the aim simply to help the employees feel aligned and appreciated? Once you identify the intended outcome of your town hall, you can plan your meeting agenda and select the right speakers to carry it out.
Select the Right Technology
Your virtual town hall will only be as seamless as your technology. That’s why it’s imperative to select a premium platform with high-quality production value—preferably with live tech support. These experts will help guide your event and lead any necessary troubleshooting along the way to ensure the production stays on course.
When choosing your virtual event platform, it’s also important to remember that audiences have a much shorter attention span in virtual settings than they do in in-person presentations. With that in mind, you should inquire further about any engagement features your potential platform has, like polling, chats, and live Q&A. These tools can help keep your town hall feeling lively and guarantee that your attendees remain engaged.
Virtual town halls allow you to reach a larger audience with both the broadcast and post-event recording (which can be shared directly after the event), and to integrate pre-recorded content into your presentation as needed. If you have several speakers you’d like to feature whose schedules aren’t likely to align, recording their segments ahead of time is a great solution. “It’s an even playing field when all the speakers and audience members are virtual,” Wollemann shares. Be sure to inquire about the integration of pre-recorded content when choosing the platform for your next event.
Refine Your Presentation & Rehearse
Tailor your town hall agenda to your message, and once your presentation is finalized, be sure to prep your speakers and rehearse before the big day.
When you’re crafting your agenda, consider the length of the event and how you would divide up that time to cover all the topics and speakers you’d like to include. “If your event is 30 minutes, I wouldn’t recommend more than three speakers,” says Wollemann. “You may also want to consider adding an “emcee” to keep the flow smooth and aid in transitions throughout the event.”
Preparing a script ahead of time can help you organize your message and ensure that it fits within your preferred time constraints. Wollemann also recommends tackling this script before diving into building any presentation slides.
When mapping out your presentation, be sure to keep any speaker sessions quick, concise, and as engaging as possible. “For example, a fireside chat between two people is far more engaging than a one-person format for the same amount of time,” Wollemann shared. Visual breaks—like photos, gifs, or videos—can also help to re-engage the audience and inspire a little laughter between presenters.
Measure Your Success
Surveys are a great way to evaluate the success of your virtual town hall. Running a brief survey during or after the town hall will help ensure the experience is still top of mind. Wollemann suggests asking questions about whether or not the audience understood the intended goal, how they felt about the information communicated, plus any follow up questions they may have. By capturing any outstanding inquiries, you can plan follow up meetings and town hall presentations accordingly.
Additionally, if you used any interactive tools, you can also measure your success with their associated analytics. “For example, how many attendees answered the polls or asked a question during the live broadcast,” Wollemann explains. “You can compare those numbers with the number of live attendees to establish a baseline measure of audience engagement.” These insights can help inform the structure of future town halls—what to keep, where to switch things up, and how to keep your audience’s attention the whole way through.
Remain Flexible & Adapt as Needed
There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for how many town halls you should host each year, but it’s likely that you need to host a lot more while we continue working remotely. Whether you host shorter town halls more frequently or a few spread out throughout the quarter, it’s important to remember that your communication style should remain flexible and evolve as needs and circumstances change. By understanding the aims of your town halls and evaluating the success afterward, you can establish a cadence that’s perfect for your company and goals.
Whether this is your first virtual town hall of the year or your tenth, there are always ways to elevate the experience for your attendees and help ensure your message is really resonating. With these easy tips, you can continue to improve your town halls and evolve your strategy as time goes on.