Best Practices for Holding and Recording Town Hall Meetings

More and more, employees are requesting greater transparency from the companies they work for. A Forbes poll found that 71% of employees felt that managers don’t spend enough time explaining goals and plans. Additionally, 50% of employees cited a lack of company-wide transparency when it comes to the factors that hold their companies back.

At the same time, a growing number of business leaders are beginning to understand the power that transparency has in building an innovative and committed company culture. Keith Rabois, entrepreneur and previous executive at tech companies PayPal, LinkedIn, and Square, believes that transparency is the key to building high-performing companies. He states, “If you want people to make smart decisions, they need context and all available information. And certainly if you want people to make the same decisions that you would make, but in a more scalable way, you have to give them the same information you have.

Recording Town Hall Meetings - Panopto Video PlatformImproving organizational transparency not only affects employee innovation and engagement — open communication from a company’s leadership can positively impact the bottom line. According to a 2005 study, the companies with the most effective communications programs financially outperformed companies with less effective programs by 57%.

Town Hall Meetings Improve Executive Transparency

In response to the growing demand for company transparency, many companies are turning to “town hall” style meetings that increase the opportunity for discussion between employees and senior leadership. According to William Hubbartt, town hall meetings are an important part aspect of management style that enable leadership to be accessible and responsive to employee concerns. These meetings, typically held on a quarterly basis, offer a more informal environment in which senior leadership can share company performance and responses to competition, in addition to answering questions from their employees. They can be used to share milestones, discuss new plans, and clarify topics of concern.

Best Practices for Effective Town Hall Meetings

If you’re interested in holding a town hall at your company, here are some best practices you’ll want to consider in order to ensure the most productive meeting possible:

  1. Keep the PowerPoint slides to a minimum. Town halls are meant to be somewhat informal and geared toward encouraging dialogue between employees and senior leadership. If you must use slides, keep the information brief — a lean presentation forces speakers to maintain eye contact with his or her audience and remain engaged on a more personal level.
  2. Make your audience feel comfortable. Employees who are not accustomed to interacting with company leaders may be nervous about saying the wrong thing, or worried that they may sound uninformed when asking a question. Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting chatting with employees and try to put them at ease. If an interesting point or question comes up during these conversations, encourage employees to ask them during the meeting’s Q&A section.
  3. Set a positive example. Positive attitudes are contagious, and senior leaders should model positive behavior to the rest of the organization. Encourage senior leaders from across the organization to attend the meeting, even if they aren’t making a presentation.
  4. Consider webcasting the event. Getting all of your employees in a single location can be costly — particularly if they are spread out over multiple geographic locations or telecommute. An easy way to ensure that all of your employees can be a part of the event is by live webcasting your meeting. Using a modern video platform like Panopto, all you need is a Windows laptop and webcam to live stream your town hall in high-definition across your entire company. Remote viewers can submit live questions and take digital notes, as well as pausing and rewinding the live video stream to replay any parts that they might have missed.
  5. Prepare initial questions to answer. Often, when leadership opens up the floor to questions, employees can be slow to participate. Have a few questions and answers prepared in advance to get the Q&A period rolling. Alternatively, a few days before your town hall meeting, ask employees to submit questions that they would like you to answer during the event.
  6. Switch between heavy and light news. Keeping a balance between serious and lighter topics helps ensure that your audience remains engaged. For example, follow up company financial news with award presentations or a panel presentation before diving back into a heavier update.
  7. Record the presentation for on-demand viewing. Don’t let employees who weren’t able to attend the meeting in person or view the webcast live miss out. With Panopto, minutes after your meeting ends, the video recording is automatically uploaded into your company’s private “corporate YouTube” where all of the content is made searchable and accessible from any device. Employees looking for your CEO’s remarks on last quarter’s performance will be able to search for words and phrases used during the presentation, then fast-forward to the exact point in the video where those comments were made.

What are some of your best practices for company town hall meetings? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Interested in Recording Town Hall Meetings?

Panopto’s enterprise video platform makes it simple to record, live broadcast, and share town halls, conferences, and other meetings — no specialized hardware needed. If you’re interested in trying Panopto for yourself, contact our team for a free, full-featured 30-day trial today.

Published: February 02, 2016