Don’t waste any time – 5 tips for hosting an efficient virtual town hall

All-company meetings or town halls are going virtual – more companies are offering flexible work from home opportunities or are opening up satellite offices to accommodate a growing workforce. Therefore, town halls are best done virtually. However, virtual town halls are a technological orchestra that are hard to manage. These meetings often go overtime due to issues with screen sharing, admitting people into the meeting, and other technical issues. These technical issues can cause your audience to get distracted , which hurts engagement during the meeting.

Therefore, to save time and reduce Zoom fatigue, here are a few tips and tricks for hosting an efficient virtual town hall:

1.     Have a time-sensitive agenda 

A meeting without an agenda is just a hangout. Naturally, we may drift away from the main topic of the meeting or fall into a conversation about current events.  Avoid this by creating a time-sensitive agenda before your virtual town hall. An agenda can be as simple as a topic to discuss or as complex as a schedule with allotted time for each department to speak. Having a set agenda gives your presenters an idea of what to prepare beforehand, which prevents the meeting from going overtime. Additionally, the agenda allows your employees to know what to expect at the virtual town hall, which allows them to ask questions beforehand or save unrelated questions for a different time. With the agenda, you will want to save time at the end for general announcements and questions. To save even more time, encourage your teams to void their sections if they don’t have anything to present.

2.    Have a moderator and shared deck

During an in-person town hall, it is easy to unplug one laptop and switch to another when changing presenters. However, screen sharing during a virtual town hall is messy and distracting. You have to make sure each presenter has screen sharing permission, each presenter needs time to set up their slides before they speak, and the audience has to sit in silence as the entire scene plays out. It is awkward and time consuming. Avoid this entire fiasco by having all presenters combine their slides into one large deck and have one person moderate the presentation. The moderator shares their screen and switches slides for each presenter.

The moderator is the most important person in hosting an efficient virtual town hall. Your moderator should be in charge of the following tasks:

  • Admitting members into the video call meeting
  • Screen sharing and switching slides
  • Keep presenters on track
  • Moderating Q&A

3.    Save questions for the end 

With a meeting as large as a town hall, many members of the audience will want to ask questions. Audience questions are great because they can spark important conversations and show that your audience is paying attention and engaging. However, having to stop every 5 minutes to address questions is very inefficient and distracting. Used Pinned Activities to allow audience members to ask questions during the presentation without disrupting active activities. Pinned Activities allow presenters to have an active question in the background while other activities are presented. Audience members can drop questions as they come and the moderator can address them towards the end of your virtual town hall.

4.     No time? Collect feedback asynchronously 

As your company transitions to this new town hall format, it is important to gather feedback from your employees. To save time and avoid awkward long pauses, gather the bulk of your virtual town hall feedback asynchronously with a Survey. Surveys are great for sending out post-town hall to ask your audience what they liked about the new format, what can be improved, and what they would like to see next. Send your survey at the end of your virtual town hall to let your employees answer on their own time. This gives them more time to reflect and share valuable feedback instead of rushing to do it during the actual town hall.

For further reading: Check-in with remote workers with these employee pulse surveys 

5.    Share everything after 

One of the best ways to save time is to send all of the materials presented after the meeting. Instead of spending time reviewing the materials or asking clarifying questions, tell your team that you will send the presentation and a recording after the meeting. You can also send the results of all of your Poll Everywhere activities with Share responses, a new feature that allows you to email a downloadable screenshot of your activity results to any recipient. Key stakeholders, decision makers, or anyone who missed the virtual town hall can review the activity results.

With every big change in a company, there will be a lot of trial and error. We hope these tips and tricks help guide you towards a virtual town hall style that best suits your organization. To help you even further, we’ve created a handful of activities that we recommend for hosting an engaging virtual town hall. Here’s your virtual town hall activity pack: