What Is a Townhall Meeting & Why Is It Important for Your Company?
Fostering a healthy company culture and employee engagement is one of the major challenges that all employers face. It has become even more complicated with the introduction of remote and hybrid workplaces, as employees are scattered geographically. A good example is keeping the entire organisation up to date with important information and developments in the company. In response, the townhall meeting has evolved to be done either on-site or online.
With the new normal, it is now crucial for companies to utilise the townhall meeting in the most effective way possible. This guide covers what is townhall, everything you need to know to better understand this management tool and its purposes, and how best to conduct it, whether on-site or online.
What is a townhall meeting?
The term “townhall meeting” is derived from the public meetings that politicians or other government workers hold in the local town hall or other public venues. Everyone is invited and encouraged to discuss topics like new legislation, existing policies, and current problems. It’s one of the most effective ways for the government to address issues that matter to communities. Likewise, it’s a great chance for citizens to get answers to their most pressing questions and concerns.
In the same regard, the townhall meeting we know now is an event organised by the upper management for many purposes. These include presenting important updates about the company, facilitating discussions on any outstanding issues, obtaining feedback, and fostering positive relationships between leaders and their junior colleagues.
Why is a townhall meeting important?
Now that you have an idea about what a townhall is, next comes understanding its importance for your organisation, especially in the post-pandemic age. Many HR experts note that the pandemic caused employees to feel insecure about many aspects of their employment. Uncertain business decisions, the transition to digital, unexpected staff changes, and feelings of disconnect from team members all contributed to distress about their work. Virtual townhall meetings allowed employers to address these concerns directly with firsthand information, just as they would in the usual office setting.
Now that most businesses are already on the road to post-pandemic recovery, the townhall meeting once again plays an important role in helping organisations move forward. Employees who feel the need to be better connected with their peers and the management benefit more from in-person townhall meetings, which is now possible with the hybrid work setup. For bigger organisations, these meetings also allow the upper management to present a more visible leadership, as senior leaders can deliver more impactful messages in person than over emails.
In addition, townhall meetings are also often called “all-hands” meetings, indicating that everyone must present. As such, it makes employees feel part of the decision-making and more involved in upholding the company’s goals and vision. They also become more familiar with members from other teams and departments, which encourages them to collaborate with each other to address shared challenges of the company.
Lastly, virtual townhall meetings allow global companies to get their remote employees more involved and connected in the organisation as a whole. Ensuring that remote employees are invited to townhalls also makes them feel more valued, even if they are not physically present. As a result, it’s easier for companies to expand their teams with global talent.
Tips for conducting townhall meetings
Townhall meetings bring many benefits to the company, so it’s important for the management to know how to run it properly. While there are no standard rules or formats for an all-hands meeting, there are several things you can do to make the most out of it.
For example, holding it in person is the better option, as it maximises the impact of the message that the leaders want to convey. But if you must absolutely hold it online – as is often the case when you have remote team members – make sure to set it at the most convenient time for everyone.
Below are more useful tips for conducting townhall meetings that are meaningful and engaging, whether virtual or on-site.
1. Keep the opening short. The hosts and leaders may be tempted to say a lot during the opening, but it’s not necessary. It’s best to give a quick rundown of the agenda to set everyone’s expectations and jump straight into it. This way, you get to keep the attention of the participants throughout the meeting.
2. Stick to the schedule set in your agenda. If you have several speakers during the townhall, make sure they stick to the time allotted. This way, the meeting stays on track without dragging on unnecessarily. No one likes attending an hour-long meeting that goes on for an extra hour or so.
3. Celebrate achievements and successes. Take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate even the smallest achievements of the team or the entire organisation. It sends the message that the company values their efforts and acknowledges successes, no matter how small, so they feel extra motivated. It creates a positive outlook and fosters a culture of appreciation that benefits the organisation.
4. Discuss important and relevant metrics. All companies have their own immediate goals and vision for the future which everyone in the company strives to get to. As such, sharing relevant information such as KPIs and key metrics helps everyone understands the company’s needs and progress.
5. Share openly. Sharing information as openly and straightforwardly as possible helps build and reinforce trust within the organisation. Of course, that doesn’t mean airing out sensitive information, so it’s best to still be prudent about the information you plan to share during the meeting.
6. Encourage everyone to attend. Townhall meetings are also often referred to as “all-hands” meetings, so everyone must be present! Don’t forget to invite new hires and remote employees, so nobody feels left out.
7. Leave room for questions and answers. Townhalls are also great for obtaining feedback from employees, so make sure to have a Q&A portion before the meeting ends. Encourage them to ask questions to make sure that they understood all the points of discussion and raise their concerns if necessary.
8. Make it fun and engaging. Lastly, don’t forget to make it fun! Just because you may be covering some serious topics doesn’t mean the meeting has to be boring or too formal. You can have a pizza party or movie night in the office for everyone to socialise after the meeting.
Townhall meetings provide the perfect opportunity for companies to communicate and align with their employees in a more effective and engaging way. As such, it’s important for them to conduct these meetings in the best way possible. Make sure that everyone – including those who are working remotely – is encouraged to attend to send a message of incluvsivity and openness. Highlight successes and achievements, no matter how small, to cultivate a culture of appreciation. Take the opportunity to get feedback from employees and have a bit of fun and socialising at the end.
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