Five ways to run a great Town Hall meeting

Town Hall meetings have become a calendar fixture at many large companies. Although originally based on New England citizens voicing their thoughts, the term Town Hall meeting is often just another name for traditional, top-down presentations by senior management.

So how can you make your town hall event work better? Paul Farrow has five ways to get it right. As presentation experts, we always recommend people to remember the A.I.M. approach

Better Town Hall Events – The A in AIM is to know your Audience.

A big mistake we see is when senior management address employees as if they were investors or customers. These are very different groups that need talking to in different ways. To get it right speak to the condition, interests and concerns of your employees.

Better Town Hall Events – What is the Intention of your Town Hall?

What do you want to get out of the event? Is it a rag-bag collection of parish notices, or is there something specific you want to achieve, for example to launch a new sale drive. If that’s the purpose of the meeting, make sure that your audience knows it and you theme the entire event around it.

Better Town Hall Events – Next, you need to decide on your Message

(the M in AIM) and make sure that it is the “red thread” running through everything that you say. Be ruthless and get rid of anything from your speech that obscures that message.

Don’t forget that acronym: AIM. Two other recommendations:

Better Town Hall Events –  Remember that you are there to talk to your colleagues…

…not to deliver a presentation. Use slides – if you must have them – as visual aids to reinforce your key points. But cut down the words on the screen.

If your town hall audience is reading your slides they aren’t listening to you. Perhaps if you use an image you could sum up what you want to say better.

Better Town Hall Events –  Finally, if you want to get into a dialogue with employees…

…create an environment for doing that. Any audience in the hundreds doesn’t normally ask many questions. An audience of 20 just might. Would you be better off organising a programme of internal focus groups – or breaking the town hall meeting into smaller tables with an interactive element?

Don’t think about Town Hall meetings only as physical events: you can run them just as effectively through virtual means by putting the same principles into practice. In any context, a Town Hall can be a powerful tool when used as part of your wider plans for engaging and equipping employees to play their part in your business.

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