A virtual town hall is a valuable tool that allows leadership to communicate with employees from various locations. When done well, these virtual meetings build trust and confidence, and create a sense of community. But when they fall short, employees tend to “check out”, and perform other tasks while the town hall runs in the background.
So how do you host a successful town hall; one in which remote employees remain interested and engaged? Here are five best practices for virtual town halls that have proven effective across more than 20,000 events in our 16 year history as a virtual event solutions provider.
5 Best Practices for a Successful Virtual Town Hall
Limit the number of topics. Since town halls are typically held once a year, or once a quarter, you may be tempted to try and talk about everything that has happened since the last one. The problem is that there’s a limit to how much information people can process. To avoid overload, limit your agenda to no more than three important topics. Fewer, more focused topics are less likely to cause your employees to glaze over and tune out. Here are 6 Tips for Creating a Productive Meeting Agenda.
Create lots of slides. One of the main causes of boredom during a virtual town hall is lack of visuals. Remember, your slide deck may be the only thing your employees have to look at, so when the same slide remains on the screen for several minutes, your viewers lose interest. To keep the presentation moving and your employees engaged, create lots of slides – twice as many as you would use for an in-person presentation – and stick to one point per slide. Don’t forget to incorporate eye-catching images, as well as words.
Don’t forget about the engagement tools. For a virtual town hall to be truly successfully, employees need to be able to participate, and not just at the ending Q&A. This need for two-way communication often stumps leaders using a one-to-many meeting platform, such as Microsoft Teams Live, which only allows for one speaker.
The key is to take advantage of the many interactive engagement tools that are available. For example, consider opening up your town hall by asking attendees to answer a question via the chat feature, or using a polling tool to get feedback on a particular issue, mid-way through your presentation. For more ideas, check out 5 Creative Ways to Increase Engagement at Your Next Virtual Event.
Leave extra time for Q&A. Most town halls focus on the presentation, reserving only 5 to 10 minutes at the end for questions, answers, and discussion. This format might make complete sense to a CEO, but consider how discouraging it could be for a participant. Just as the conversation gains momentum and participants become comfortable enough to ask questions, the meeting comes to an end. To truly encourage employee participation, you’ll want to shoot for a 50/50 split between presentation and Q&A.
Worried no one will ask questions? Allow participants to remain anonymous. The reality is, no matter how friendly you think you are, or how open you think your company culture is, your employees may still be anxious about speaking up. Anonymity takes away the stigma of asking a question that could reflect poorly on the individual, and eliminates the intimidation factor.
Designate a Facilitator. It’s nearly impossible to execute a successful virtual town hall without help. At minimum, you need a facilitator, if not a small team, to manage logistics and ensure things run smoothly. Imagine how difficult it would be to read chat questions while trying to maintain the flow of your presentation. A facilitator can support participants with technical issues and monitor chat questions, so that you can focus on delivering your important messages.
Reliable Virtual Meeting Management for Your Business
To ensure reliable virtual meeting management, we invite you to engage Worktank. We have spent nearly two decades helping leaders of nonprofits, corporations and industry giants, like Comcast, Microsoft, and SAP, refine their virtual events and build deeper relationships with their teams and customers.
In addition to basic AV setup and technical expertise, we provide strategic communications to help you craft your message with purpose, passion, and relevance, as well as creative solutions that allow you to engage with your team in new and unique ways.