Town halls or all-hands are important meetings for keeping your employees informed about the state of the company. It is great for sharing company policy updates, achievements, and announcements. However, as many companies opt for permanent remote work policies or expand with satellite offices, a virtual town hall is a great opportunity to keep everyone on the same page and make sure they feel unified as they work in different locations. Here is how to hold a successful virtual town hall:
Transitioning your town hall meetings from physical to virtual
The first step to transitioning your in-person town hall to virtual is testing and setting up the videoconferencing software. When Poll Everywhere had in-person town halls, we had a dedicated person in charge of audio and visual set up. Now, this same person is in charge of starting the meeting, letting people into the meeting, and making sure no interruptions occur.
On top of a dedicated AV person, our virtual town halls also have a moderator. Our moderator has many roles, here is just a few:
- Host: This person is in charge of kicking off the virtual town hall, setting the mood, and handling transitions between each presentation.
- Screen share: This person is in charge of sharing their screen and displaying the slide decks. They help speakers switch between slides.
- Time tracker: Perhaps the most important role, the moderator is in charge of making sure the virtual town hall does not run over and that every presenter has ample time to share their updates.
To streamline your virtual town hall presentations, you should consolidate every presentation into one large shareable slide deck. This makes hand-offs between presenters much easier, since switching between shared screens can be clumsy for those who are not familiar with the videoconferencing software. Your company should also set an agenda beforehand with a time-restraint in mind. Having a set agenda ensures that your virtual town hall will stay on topic and not go over time.
Keeping your employees engaged
Large-scale company meetings are breeding grounds for disengagement and lack of attention, especially so in a virtual meeting. With cameras off and microphones muted, it is hard to tell if your employees are actually listening to important company policy updates. Instead of losing your employees to the temptations of online shopping or social media, keep them engaged with fun activities.
As you wait for attendees to join, play music and start the meeting with fun icebreakers. Playing upbeat music sets the tone for the meeting and may wake up anyone who is still asleep. Asking a simple question like “What is your favorite part of your job?” or a thought-provoking question such as “Which famous person – dead or alive – would you want to go to dinner with if given the opportunity?” is a great way to capture your employees’ attention and get their brains going for the day.
Bring positivity to your virtual town hall by celebrating major wins, anniversaries, or sharing exciting stories. A company-wide town hall is a great place to celebrate wins and boost morale. According to a Gallup survey, most workers prefer public praise or recognition over a raise. In addition to wins, celebrating employee anniversaries and sharing their impact on the company is a great way to uplift employees and boost morale. Sharing great customer experiences and stories is another heartwarming way to bring positivity to your virtual town hall. Set aside a small section of the meeting for different members of your companies to share a particularly special interaction with a customer, positive feedback, or a major win. Your less-customer facing employees will love hearing how their hard work is impacting the world.
Follow up and collect feedback
A great way to prevent interruptions during the virtual town hall is to have a Pinned Q&A activity running in the background to allow employees to drop questions, comments, and concerns during the meeting even as other activities are activated. Dedicate time at the end of your virtual town hall to host a retro. The moderator should review each comment and address any questions that came up.
If your company is new to virtual town halls, send out a survey to collect feedback and improve the next session. Along with the survey, consider sharing the slide deck and recording of the town hall afterwards so that those who missed the meeting or want to review important updates can do so.
Your company’s first virtual town hall may be rough but with time your team will develop a process that works best. If you’d like to learn more about engaging your remote team and building your company culture, check out our free ebook.