Virtual Town Hall Meeting - Best Practice
— March 16th, 2022
In this new age of remote and hybrid working, it is often impossible for businesses to get all their staff together in the same physical place. Video conferencing and virtual event solutions have proved to be a great alternative and have transformed traditional town hall meetings into virtual town hall meetings.
According to a Forbes study, 74% of employees say they are more effective at their job when they feel heard. The company town hall meeting also called an all-staff meeting or all-hands meeting is one place to make that happen.
With a virtual town hall meeting, employees get many of the same benefits of an in-person event, like face-to-face interaction, while being able to attend the meeting from anywhere in the world.
Most virtual town hall meetings follow the same format. To begin, an introduction is offered by the CEO or senior member of management. Next, department managers will present any key findings or new initiatives. Finally, to close out the meeting, a Q&A session will take place.
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What are the pros and cons of virtual town hall meetings?
- Lower expenses as travel costs are largely eliminated
- Everyone can be involved, which leads to higher employee engagement
- Reduce carbon footprint due to minimizing travel
- Shorter sessions, lead to higher productivity rates
- More frequent meetings
- The chance to record meetings
- Minimal scheduling needs
- Less stressful
- Collaborate in real-time
- Reinforced values
- Visible leadership
- Interactions between participants can be difficult
- Visual and audio-only
- Less dynamic than in-person town halls
- Internet connections can fail
- Team members may be in different time zones
- Participants may not know each other
- Pay for software
- Technical issues
- Talking over each other
- Difficult topics
How to successfully host a virtual town hall meeting
Create a meeting agenda in advance
Preparation is key when it comes to ensuring that virtual meetings run smoothly. This begins with setting an agenda in advance that specifically defines the purpose of the meeting. An effective meeting agenda clearly states meeting goals and discussion topics.
An agenda must also be written in a clear and easy-to-understand way so that everyone can get on the same page, before, during, and after the meeting.
Once the meeting agenda has been created, the next step is to prepare the content that will be utilized throughout. When it comes to presentations, it’s essential they are straightforward but also get across all necessary information. Useful tips include:
- Keep it fresh
- Cut the corporate jargon
- Introduce new employees
- Keep slideshows in the same format
- Encourage questions
- Take advantage of videos, memes, GIFs, and images
Check technology in advance
Technology issues, whether it is audio, visual, or internet connections, are one of the biggest downfalls to virtual meetings. These issues can waste time, lessen the impact of content, and significantly reduce engagement.
The best way to avoid this is for the company to perform a thorough check of software, connectivity, and equipment and ensure that they are all working correctly in advance of the meeting.
Start with an icebreaker
Icebreakers are an excellent way to open a meeting as they get everybody to loosen up while also helping colleagues bond. When done correctly, icebreakers not only have the power to strengthen co-worker relationships but can create an atmosphere of inclusivity.
This ultimately leads to better brainstorming sessions and greater employee involvement in the meeting. For example, you could ask a general question like ‘Do you have any pets?’ or work focused one like ‘What is a recent achievement you feel proud of?’
Celebrate company wins to boost morale
Celebrating wins both big and small can breathe life into an organization and is great for overall company morale. A town hall meeting is a perfect place to mention the successes of individuals or teams, and to highlight any significant milestones.
Leaders should talk about business results and show how they appreciate everyone’s hard work for the cause. Celebrating successes is also a great way to remind teams of why they do what they do.
According to research compiled by Atlassian, 39% of workers have reportedly fallen asleep during meetings. As town hall meetings usually aim to cover a lot of ground, they can run for long periods of time.
To keep employees engaged and alert, a good rule is to enforce a five-minute break every 30 minutes. This way participants can go to the bathroom, make a coffee, stretch their legs, and come back refreshed.
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After the meeting
- Share the meeting recording: As mentioned before one of the best advantages of virtual meetings is how easy they are to record. Following the meeting, leaders should share the recording with employees and other stakeholders. Those who could not attend don’t have to miss out and those that were there can revisit the material if they want to review key points and takeaways.
- Follow-up email - Sending a follow-up email is a nice way to thank those for their participation in the event, while also offering a recap of what was covered. Such emails can also be used as an opportunity to let the audience know how they can access the recording and encourage them to make use of it.
- Present a feedback survey - Giving employees a chance to share feedback will boost morale and offer great tips for improving the next virtual town hall meeting. Employees can either be asked to complete a short anonymous questionnaire after the event or a few days later.
When done correctly, a virtual town hall meeting should allow employees to get many of the benefits of an in-person event while being able to attend from anywhere in the world.
Town hall meetings are important because they allow team leaders to share important information, provide employees with the opportunity to ask important questions, and ensure everyone understands the company’s goal and objectives.
At the same time, a virtual town hall is also an opportunity to build a sense of community among colleagues and help bridge the divide between different departments. By using the step-by-step guide outlined above, organizations will be able to plan an engaging virtual town hall meeting that updates employees on the company’s goals, plans, and processes, no matter how large the geographical divide.