A town hall or all-hands meeting is an event where all employees of an organization come together, get information and participate collectively. Traditionally these meetings have three main objectives:
- To share business updates with all employees by senior leadership
- To align the employees with organizational goals and values
- To provide a platform for open discussion and interaction across all levels and teams
In recent times, the number of remote employees has increased for every organization. Getting all employees together for a physical meeting can prove to be challenging. Video conferencing and virtual event solutions have proved to be the savior, as they have transformed town hall meetings into virtual town hall meetings.
With time, the formats of these meetings have also evolved. Organizations now host motivational town halls, celebratory town halls, leadership town halls, and much more through the virtual medium. Needless to say, the agendas for each format differ to meet the purpose of the meeting.
Fun fact: In 2020, Disney organized a worldwide, virtual town hall meeting to announce the change of CEO.
So, what are the advantages of hosting these meetings?
What are usually the various agendas for these meetings?
And why are so many organizations hosting virtual town halls?
This blog talks about all this and more.
Advantages of virtual town halls
Updates from the leaders: As an organization gets bigger, the communication gap between the leaders and team members increases. Information and updates get sent via emails or and sometimes might get lost in silos. Virtual town hall meetings help eradicate these barriers. Leaders speak directly with all employees and share updates, breaking down silos. That helps build a connection and trust between the senior management and team members.
Engage new employees: With more and more employees working remotely, it is sometimes difficult for new employees to relate to the organization or align with its values. Town halls have proven to be helpful in such situations. A monthly or forthrightly virtual town hall for teams increases interactions and helps new employees settle down faster in the organization.
Unfiltered feedback: A town hall, whether big or small, is a good way for senior management to get direct feedback from their employees. Since it’s a live interaction, employees can share feedback in real-time. That boosts employee engagement and promotes two-way communication.
Reinforce values and promote teamwork: Virtual town halls effectively reinforce the organization’s core values and culture. Leaders can use the opportunity to reiterate organizational values and beliefs. Also, when teams across various locations meet and interact with each other, it fosters teamwork and unity.
Virtual town hall meeting agendas
The agenda for each type of town hall depends on its purpose. Detailed below are agendas for five different kinds of town hall meetings.
Town halls for small companies
Objective – Small companies constantly strive to keep the employee morale high and increase their confidence in the company with such town halls.
Agenda – Monthly town halls can be hosted with that objective in mind, leveraging the following sample agenda to achieve it:
- Welcome or opening address by a senior leader
- Company updates: Given by the CEO, it can include statistics, KPIs, financials, company wins, etc. These updates will prepare the team to plan actions for the next month and keep employees engaged.
- Shout-outs: Recognising team members/individuals who have performed exceptionally can prove to be great morale boosters.
- Q&A: The last part of the meeting agenda should be Q&A, where employees are free to question the leadership about company plans and decisions.
Experts advise that senior management should answer at least three to four questions. This gives employees the chance to interact with senior leadership and be reassured.
Town halls for large companies
Objective – When it comes to large companies, the town hall meeting format varies a little and can be done in two different ways-
- All-hands meeting to keep employees informed: A meeting of all the employees will focus more on sharing of information and will have limited time for interaction.
- Smaller meetings for specific teams to drive deep engagement: This kind of virtual town hall will be on the lines of a small company’s all-hands meeting. These meetings encourage in-depth discussions and immersive interactions.
Agenda – If your objective is to host a virtual town hall together for all employees, the agenda can be as follows:
- Welcome, celebrations, announcements, and FYIs by senior leadership or the CEO
- Initiatives in focus, presented by team leaders
- Shoutouts and recognitions by senior HR leaders
- Q&A or open-house
- Action items and Thank you
Motivational town halls
Objective – Teams need motivation. Remote teams need it even more. Motivational town halls boost the spirit of the employees. It can help employees get aligned with the company’s vision and understand their purpose. Organizations also use motivational town halls for team building and training.
Agenda – Motivational town halls can be designed in two ways. For team building and value aligning, organizations can rely on in-house resources. The CEO can give an inspiring speech about the company’s journey. You can also have employees share their personal growth experiences with the company.
Download this free sample agenda template to host such a motivational town hall, with ease.
Alternatively, organizations can invite a popular motivational speaker or senior leader to address all employees. Listening to motivational speakers gives people a new perspective, the hope to overcome challenges and get inspired. The following agenda can be used to host such a town hall-
- Welcome by the CEO
- Speech by the guest speaker- maximum 45 minutes
- Thank you by a senior leader
Celebration/Party town halls
Objective – A celebratory or fun town hall meeting is hosted with a single objective in mind- to relax and have fun. Companies are increasingly hosting such town halls for their employees to tackle burnout, reduce stress and give them something exciting to look forward to!
Agenda – There is no dearth of ideas or agendas for a party town hall. A sample agenda for a celebratory town hall could be as follows:
- Welcome address/ Introduction in a fun and unique way, by team members
- Stand up act by a professional
- Team-building games for employees
- Performances by in-house talents along with catered meals or a movie
Celebratory town halls are an excellent way to boost employees’ morale and should be hosted by companies at least twice every year.
Leadership town halls
Objective – These kinds of virtual town halls focus only on leadership teams. In larger companies where there are a considerable number of leaders, these kinds of town halls are a necessity. Typically, in a leadership town hall, the objective is to enable the leaders to meet and discuss the organization’s progress, plans, and partnerships.
Agenda – This sample agenda for a leadership town hall is a good guide and can be adapted or modified to host a virtual leadership town hall.
The CEO can commence the town hall with a welcome note, followed by an annual review and next year’s strategic focus or roadmap presentation. The HR head can then share employee engagement survey reviews. Next, the CFO can share financial updates and make announcements. The final session should host a Q&A to answer queries and concerns.
How to make your virtual town halls more engaging?
Having understood the various kinds of town halls that you can host, let us look at some tips to make town halls more engaging-
Virtual town hall meeting platforms
We have now established that town hall meetings are necessary and effective. But you also need a suitable platform to host virtual town hall meetings. Platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom serve the purpose but come with limitations.
On the other hand, a holistic event hosting platform like Airmeet offers many features that make town halls more interactive, value-driven, and easy to host. These include:
- High quality, seamless audio/ video with screen sharing capabilities for a delightful viewing experience
- Social lounge and tables to conduct breakout sessions, team building games, and have smaller group discussions
- Raise hand can make asking questions fun and deeply interactive
- Employees who are being recognized can be invited to the stage, so employees feel special
- Exceptional event services make hosting easier
- Polls can be created before and during the meeting by the moderator
- Emojis, chatbox, and Q&A can be used by your employees to express themselves
- Interviews with one or many can be live-streamed.
Added to all this, Airmeet needs no download, is easily customizable, and can seamlessly host hundreds of people across time zones. Needless to say, Airmeet has a high level of security and strict data privacy rules too.
Take your virtual town hall to the next level by hosting it with Airmeet. To know more, schedule a demo here.
Frequently asked questions
A town hall meeting should have a clear purpose. The purpose of your meeting determines the agenda. Typically, it starts with a welcome note. This should be followed by project updates and recognitions. Wind up the town hall with Q&A from the participants. Keep your presentations short and plan enough time for interaction.
A town hall is a goal-oriented, company-wide event where employees and leaders mingle with each other. The purpose of a traditional town hall is to share company updates, answer employee questions and gather feedback. However, you can also host town halls for motivation, celebrations, goal aligning, and more.
The purpose of an all-hands meeting is to bring the entire organization together, share business updates, drive alignment around the company mission, motivate employees, celebrate milestones, and answer questions.
In a town hall meeting, company leaders discuss the company’s achievements ( financials, data, KPI), future plans, recognize outstanding performers and make announcements. The last part of a town hall is generally reserved for Q&A and is open to employees of all levels.
Some tips to make your town hall meeting more interesting are: Share success stories, keep presentations short, have a personal interview, include awards and recognitions, get feedback via polls, and plan breakout sessions via Airmeet’s social lounge.
Tips to make your town hall more interesting are: Have a clear agenda, including ice breakers, select a variety of speakers, and assign a moderator. All your planning will be futile if you do not have a suitable tech platform. So, select a meeting platform that enables immersive interactions, robust security, scalability, and ease of use.
Yes, there are many virtual town hall meeting platforms. Airmeet is an all-in-one virtual event hosting platform to host effective town halls. Features like social lounges, screen sharing, polls, raise-hand, HD-quality audio and video, and the ability to host hundreds of people make Airmeet a preferred partner to host town halls.
If you have a powerful tech platform, hosting a fun town hall will be effortless. Here are some ideas to get you inspired – have a fun meeting room background, include a game or quiz, recognize achievers in a creative way, celebrate company milestones with celebrity performances, get meals delivered, and remember to take feedback.
Town halls can be hosted virtually using event hosting platforms. The selection of your meeting platform will depend on the goals and objectives of your meeting, and the number of attendees. Leverage Airmeet to host engaging and seamless sessions. Your participants will be able to interact directly with the speaker via raise-hand and invite-to-stage features.
The frequency of a virtual town hall depends on the purpose of your meeting and the size of your organization/team. If you have a large organization, a town hall can be a bi-annual event. But if you have a small organization or want to plan it for smaller teams, the virtual town hall can be a monthly event depending on the goal.