There’s a lot more to delivering a great Employee Town Hall than these tips – for example you have to get the invitations right, select the right speakers, schedule at an appropriate time of day and moment in the business cycle and so on – but above all, aligning the content to the business strategy and honestly evaluating the whole experience from the point of view of the participant/audience (rather than the speakers) are the two most important things to get right. That said, ignore the following handful of tips at your (and your executives’) peril.
These five, well, actually four, tips will help you deliver a successful Employee Town Hall. Really, they apply to any big meeting. Enjoy!
- Have a run-of-show document that makes it extremely explicit when each individual will hand off to the next and ensure that the AV team has this well in advance. Do not make last minute changes to this run of show document.
- Practice all transitions for real — both in a practice session and make sure that each individual has a walk-off line (and that the person who is supposed to take it knows what that line is a la, “Now I’m going to hand it over to Jimmy who will talk about his favorite tuna fish recipes.” etc)
- Consolidate all slides in one PPT file and have them run centrally — someone who is familiar with the content can advance the slides from your main stage. Same with video — do not have video initiated remotely — have the AV team do it. Also, make sure they test the video file in advance — ideally, during your transition practice session.
- The leader of the meeting must be vocal on sticking to schedule. Almost every Townhall I’ve attended has gone between 15 – 40 minutes over. The exception tends to be Sales where they have a culture of being able to pitch. So! Either schedule more time or drill the presenters in advance on their timing. Having an assistant hold up sign that says the time is up or relying on presenters to look at the clock doesn’t work. The convener of the meeting has to the boss on time.
- Practice the transitions. I know I already mentioned this! But it bears repeating. It is just so unlikely that it will go flawlessly unless you practice. Know what your last words will be before you say your first words.