HRM Five: Running an effective town hall
Town hall meetings can have multiple purposes. For instance, to announce new policies, raise employee awareness of specific issues, or learn employee concerns. They can be effective at improving communication and morale, but only if properly organised – fail to do so, and employees might just see them as time-wasting exercise, worthy of only a grimace or eye-roll.
Here are a few easy ways to make sure your next town hall meeting is a successful one.
- Have a clear set of goals
By knowing what you want to achieve, you can plan accordingly. For instance, if the aim is to understand employee concerns over a specific issue, you can then ensure that relevant business leaders are visibly present to hear those concerns.
- Don’t be ambitious
There is a time and place for intense meetings with complex agenda, but a town hall is not one of them. Also, town halls usually entail the participation of people across the organisation, regardless of seniority or department. Narrow the agenda to two or three topics that everyone is invested in. If you really need to, send out detailed information a few days ahead of time.
- Make it easier for people to participate
Don’t just ask everyone to turn up at the meeting room or lecture theatre. Have a chat with your team about the best way to encourage dynamic conversation, where people feel comfortable rather than combative. This could mean ditching tables, so that everyone is sitting or standing together. Consider providing snacks or drinks, too, especially if you want to hve a longer meeting or cover some difficult topics.
- Leverage technology
There are many apps and platforms out there which democratise audience participation, and make it easy for everyone to get involved. For example, Pigeonhole Live allows people to submit questions, which other people can then vote on.
- Follow up afterwards
There’s nothing worse than having a great discussion that amounts to nothing. Talk is cheap, after all. Follow ups can take multiple forms: sending out an email recapping the town hall meeting; forming focus groups or committees to dive deeper into issues; arrowing relevant departments and leaders to enact changes; or sending out feedback forms to see how you can make your next town hall even better.