In the age of remote and hybrid workplaces, companies increasingly face the challenges of nurturing healthy company culture and keeping the geographically dispersed employees engaged and aligned with shared values and objectives. Virtual town hall meetings are a great way to make the employees feel they are all valued members of a community and a powerful channel to communicate results, achievements, and changes. What is a town hall meeting? Find out in this article.
- What is a virtual town hall meeting anyway?
- Pros & Cons of virtual town hall meetings
- How to run a virtual town hall meeting in your company
- Virtual Town hall tips
- Kaltura Town Halls
What Is a Virtual Town Hall Meeting Anyway?
A virtual town hall meeting is a company-wide event hosted online by members of the upper management, with the intention to keep the workforce updated about business results, changes, and the general direction of the company.
Town Hall meetings derive their name from the meetings held by politicians in the local town hall (or sports center or library, …) to discuss new legislation and other topics. Commonly known as all-hands meetings, company town hall meetings used to be a unidirectional communication line.
Today, company town hall meetings are increasingly held online, as a live stream event with interactive elements such as live polls and Q&A sessions that enable feedback from the employees.
Virtual town hall meetings are becoming increasingly important to align employees and nurture the company culture in globally dispersed enterprises and organizations that adopted a hybrid workplace.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Town Hall Meetings
Granted, virtual town halls can be challenging to organize (and costly, depending on how far you’re planning to go to wow your audience). But these few drawbacks are far outweighed by the advantages:
Keep your employees aligned with company goals and values
Pushing a company forward is the responsibility of all employees and executives together. To make this possible everyone needs to know which direction the company is taking. Company town halls are the perfect format to remind everyone about the shared goals and values or inform them of new ones.
Nurture company culture
Bringing everyone together and reminding them that they have shared values, goals, and history creates a true sense of community. Virtual town hall meetings are a great opportunity to celebrate achievements and put special employees in the spotlight as any large family celebration does.
Increase employee engagement
Traditionally, there’s a gap between management and employees in larger enterprises. Virtual town hall meetings form a great opportunity to bridge that gap. Feeling closer to leadership will help employees feel more engaged. Especially after an inspiring keynote by the CEO, and live polls and Q&As, where they can feel heard.
Facilitate change management
Virtual town hall meetings are a great forum to introduce changes in the company’s goals, plans, or processes. All your employees are present and you have all the tools at hand to help them understand and accept change, from slide sync to video integration, polls, Q&A, and on-demand video conversion.
Virtual town hall meetings hold additional advantages over their physical counterparts, just like any other form of virtual event. Location is no longer an issue, which is especially important for remote or hybrid workforces. With that also comes the savings on travel, venue, and other related costs.
How To Run a Virtual Town Hall Meeting in Your Company
Follow the classic virtual town hall format, … or don’t.
Most virtual town hall meetings follow the same format. The CEO or another member of higher management opens the event with a keynote. That keynote is then followed by other managers presenting the results or initiatives of their department. Finally, the all-hands meeting ends with a Q&A session.
But you don’t have to stick to that format! You can customize your virtual town hall meeting to your taste or to whatever the topic dictates. If you have something to celebrate or want to do something fun for your employees, you can spruce up your town hall with icebreakers, entertainment acts, polls, video interstitials, guest experts, et cetera.
Timing and frequency
Some companies host a monthly town hall while others tie their town hall meetings to the presentation of their quarterly results. Some of our clients organize 2-3 ad hoc virtual town hall meetings per year, whenever they have important information to pass on to their employees.
The only ground rule here is that your town hall meeting must have value for your employees. Other than that, the frequency at which you should host town hall meetings largely depends on the size and situation of your company, and the time of year. Obviously, large enterprises that are going through a period of significant change will benefit from regular town hall meetings to get support from their employees and steer the company in the right direction.
In terms of timing, most enterprises seem to schedule their town hall meetings towards the end of the week (Thursday or Friday afternoon) as a pleasant way to end the week. But if your town hall meeting includes action points to be implemented immediately, you might want to plan your town hall at the very beginning of the week.
If you want to start organizing virtual town hall meetings for your company, you will have to invest in the required infrastructure. Depending on your format you might need video recording gear (camera’s, tripods, lightning, …), especially if you opt for a hybrid town hall meeting. But it can be as simple as a webcam and a video conferencing platform such as Kaltura Town Halls that can support the scale of your event and has all the bells and whistles you need, from screen sharing to chat, live polls, media playlists, slide sync, and moderated Q&A. More about Kaltura Town Halls at the end of this article.
Plan your virtual town hall meeting
Set a time and date for your event that will be comfortable for all your attendees, in all time zones. If this isn’t possible, then make sure to record your town hall meeting (which you probably should be doing in any case).
Discuss the meeting objective with the CEO and upper management. Will you be introducing a new service or product? Will you present the quarterly results? Will you be communicating about important changes in the company?
Based on the answers, you’ll be able to create a town hall meeting agenda, outline the content, and get your team together: IT, speakers and moderators, graphic designers, etc.
Prepare your meeting content
Have your designers, content creators, and videographers work together with the speakers to develop slide decks, videos, and a general design theme for the event. Keep things clean and simple. Don’t forget that the message is the most important, so make sure it gets delivered to your audience.
Promote your virtual town hall
While you are developing your content you can start sending “Save the Date” calendar invitations and teaser emails to your employees. Don’t forget to share the meeting objectives and the agenda, including topics, time, and speaker line-up. Maybe even ask your audience to submit questions in advance. You can send a series of 3-4 emails to keep your audience psyched and engaged until the actual event.
Launch your virtual town hall
Feel the excitement. But stay focused. Perform a dry run to test all the equipment, connections, and speakers. Foresee backups and plan B’s wherever you can. Make sure everyone is ready. Take a breath. Launch your virtual town hall. Good luck!
Follow up on your virtual town hall
Follow up with your audience. Send a follow-up email with a thank you note and recap of the meeting. Let your audience know where they can view the recording on-demand.
Follow up with your team. Discuss the performance, successes, and issues. If you’ve used Kaltura Town Halls, you’ll have access to event analytics and reporting to track attendee engagement and measure your KPIs. This will prove invaluable for your performance reporting and to identify pain points and optimize your processes for future virtual town hall meetings.
Virtual Town Hall Tips
We published an excellent article with 15 tips for a successful virtual town hall meeting to implement before, during, and after your event. I recommend you give that one a read. But here are a few additional tips we learned from some of our customers who organize top-notch virtual town halls.
Make it a show
Don’t forget that (part of) your audience is sitting alone in front of their computer. Help them remain engaged by adding some pizzazz to your event. Some tried and tested techniques is to have your town hall moderated and presented by an entertaining host, include icebreakers at the opening of the event, launch games, quizzes, or virtual team building activities, and offer live performances (music act, stand-up comedy, inspiring keynote with external speaker, …). One of the easiest ways to liven up a town hall is with video compilations that include employees or other types of internally produced videos. One of our customers had employees send in video clips of them lip-synching the same pop song. They compiled the video and showed it at the beginning of the town hall, to the audience’s delight.
Make it interactive
We said it before, but it’s important enough to repeat. Your audience is sitting at home in front of a screen. It’s important to engage them at any opportunity to make sure they enjoy the event, experience it as a community gathering, and stay receptive to the main objective and message of the Town hall meeting. A Q&A session is the bare minimum and crucial to the success of your town hall. If it’s available to you, include quizzes and polls, enable emoji reactions and encourage comments in the chat box, organize virtual activities, etc.
Name and celebrate employees
Town hall meetings are social events, so make it largely about your employees. Point out collective achievements in your quarterly results, but don’t forget to drop names. Celebrate impressive work anniversaries and outstanding achievements. Put your employees in the spotlight. Many companies do this with a lot of flair and organize yearly award ceremonies celebrating employees with special video or photo compilations and special prizes (see next paragraph).
Add something tangible
Make your virtual town hall a little less virtual with a real-life experience. Send swag, food, or drinks to your attendees’ homes just in time for the event (ask them not to open until the event and invite them to collectively open their deliveries during the town hall) or send them a voucher to order food and drinks themselves in time for the event. Send Amazon gift cards or similar to the winners of the quiz/virtual activities. Offer premium prizes like Spa retreats or champaign to the winners of the employee awards.
Kaltura Town Halls
Kaltura developed its Town Halls solution for the discerning customer who wants to make the most of their virtual town hall meetings.
Kaltura Town Halls provides reliable end-to-end live streaming of events at any scale and to any device. It packs a punch while, to your audience, it’s as simple as clicking a link. No downloads or installations are required. It’s all in the cloud.
Kaltura Town Halls has all the features you need to create the town hall meeting you want:
- Advanced branding options
- Permission management
- Powerful video creation and editing tools
- Captions and automatic translations
- Mobile app
- Advanced real-time analytics
- Live to VOD repurposing
- Video conferencing integrations
- Tailored Professional Services and White Glove Services
- … and so much more
Would you like to see the full breadth of Kaltura Town Halls capabilities in action? Request a demo or learn more on our dedicated web page.
Ready to set up your virtual town hall with Kaltura?