Town hall meetings are for SMEs—not only large corporations.
Planning and prepping for your first town hall meeting is critical for success.
The time and master ceremony (MC) can make a big difference in town hall meeting success.
Don’t forget to incorporate HR into town hall recordings.
Have you hosted your first town hall meeting yet—or are you waiting until your SME grows a little more first?
An employee town hall meeting might seem like a situation better suited to larger, more established companies, but that’s rarely the case. It’s often better to start implementing corporate town hall meeting dates from the inception of a company.
They’re called town hall meetings because they encourage participation from everyone. They are also often referred to as “all-hands” meetings, which stresses the importance of everyone getting involved. Companies conduct these meetings for a variety of reasons, including announcing important company updates, project collaboration, reinforcing company culture, and more.
Why town hall meetings matter
Town hall meetings allow employees to gather together to exchange ideas and bring up issues and concerns. It’s also space where managers can answer questions and get more information on pending topics. No matter the size of your SME, planning your first town hall meeting begins with brainstorming employee town hall meeting ideas.
Popular topics for first town hall meetings: prep and plan
There might be some industry-specific meeting ideas, but most SMEs can benefit from addressing:
- The current state of employee engagement, productivity, and happiness.
- Ideas for more community engagement or philanthropic endeavors.
- Upcoming open job opportunities.
- Analyzing how the company is currently abiding by business goals, values, or mission statement.
- Company financial data and trends.
Another great way to build more topics in your first town hall meeting is to ask your employees. Interested community members who have expressed interest in also attending likely have some ideas brewing.
Prioritize engagement during your town hall meeting: tips from
timing to the MC
Hosting a town hall meeting is a significant first step, but you don’t want it to turn into a dud. If the first few meetings fail due to lack of engagement, you’ll lose steam. Engaging the attending members can be challenging, but not with these strategies:
- Have an itinerary available before the meeting. Hard copies of agenda items are a must at any meeting, but it’s also a good idea to have them posted electronically at least one week before the meeting. This will give attendees a chance to form their opinions and perhaps recommend changes. Not everyone thinks quickly on their feet. A lot of people need time to prepare and mull over topics.
- Choose the host wisely. Is the person MCing the event really the best choice? Don’t automatically assume a manager or other company notable is the best choice. A great host will move the meeting along, tactfully bring long-winded talkers to a stop, and nurture conversations started by less assertive attendees.
- Make sure the time works. You can’t please everyone, but if you choose a difficult time due to traffic or conflicting meetings, you simply won’t have the turnout you desire. Taking a quick, informal poll can help you decide the best time. Lunch meetings are also popular (especially if you provide sustenance). Quarterly town hall meetings are acceptable for most companies. Any more than this and they might lose their impact.
- Provide avenues for anonymous topics. Not everyone is going to feel comfortable governing a topic on the agenda. If you provide ways for attendees to suggest a topic anonymously, you can generate more engagement. It’s unlikely that they’re the only ones interested in the topic. Additionally, offering anonymous feedback avenues after a town hall meeting can keep the discussion going for the next meeting if necessary. An easy way to do this is by placing an anonymous suggestion box in a high traffic area of the workplace. Some organizations might also benefit by sending out an anonymous survey via email. Choose a strategy that works best for your team.
How HR can help
Town hall meetings are a great way to engage your SME. They should also be tied to your company’s HR department. Including town hall meetings as an event recorded in your HR software, can help you track progress and attendance. Human resources are in charge of a broad spectrum of tasks, including town hall gatherings. Proper planning, prioritizing engagement, and monitoring with quality software can help you ensure a positive experience.