The best town hall meetings engage, inspire, and rally people to support your corporate culture and goals. Town hall meetings represent one of the best ways to bring everyone together to share news, talk business, and build relationships.
Let’s take a closer look at town hall meetings to discover what they are, why they matter, and how to host town hall meetings that really engage your employees.
What is a town hall meeting?
A town hall meeting is the perfect way to bring people together, talk about what’s important, and get feedback on what’s working and what could be better. Town halls are a regularly scheduled, super accessible way for employees and senior leadership to meet and engage.
Town hall meetings, also known as “all-hands” meetings, are gatherings where the team can hear news, discuss challenges, stay informed, and offer ideas. They’re a time to discuss important topics and engage and build relationships with people you may not work closely with. While they may be open to the public, they aren’t usually public meetings. Host them in your HQ office if you can, or turn to an online town hall meeting for your remote or hybrid team.
Note: If you have team members in many different time zones, try to find a time that’ll work for everyone. If that isn’t possible, share a recording of the meeting, and ask everyone to watch it by the end of the next business day.
5 benefits of hosting a town hall event
Town hall meetings help you connect with everyone in your company. Here are some of the main benefits of hosting town hall meetings:
1. Share information easily
A company wide email, Slack announcement, or virtual chat update in Microsoft Teams is great for topics that are easy to understand and won’t cause much worry. But when you share complex information, it can be worth doing so through an all-hands meeting. With everyone present at the meeting, it’s a great way to announce anything from company strategy to a new Diversity and Inclusion initiative.
2. Bring teams together
Town hall meetings are just as much a social gathering as a work meeting. They’re an opportunity to get to know not just teams but individuals too. Make time to recognize both teams and individuals as you let the company know what they’ve been up to. Seek to unite teams behind projects, company initiatives, and performance goals whether you’re meeting in person or over a video call.
3. Create opportunities for discussion and feedback
Employee engagement remains a key priority for thoughtful business leaders, and town hall meetings give you a space for discussion and feedback. Give people a chance to get involved and share their thoughts to ramp up engagement.
4. Strengthen your company culture
Your town hall meeting will naturally reflect your company culture, as you set the tone, agenda, and overall atmosphere. Use your meetings as a chance to build trust, reinforce your company culture, and show what it means to be part of your community. Town hall meetings are also an ideal opportunity to share some of your energy and enthusiasm for the company and what you do. Feel free to take a few minutes each meeting to really speak from the heart in this way. You can really drive the energy forward and lead with passion in a way that’s harder to do by email.
5. Give direct access to your leadership team
Getting in touch with a senior manager can be tough, even if you have their contact information on the digital directory. After all, this person is often busy, and you might be intimidated by their position.
Your town hall meeting is an easy way for people to get face-to-face interaction with your CEO or senior leadership team. This direct access breaks down barriers, builds relationships, and improves transparency.
What to include at your town hall meeting
Unlike a team meeting, town halls typically involve the whole company.
Town hall meetings are often a catch-all for company updates, project details, award wins, personal news, and HR updates. The flexible structure of a town hall doesn’t mean a lack of structure though, and the best town hall meetings are the ones where everyone knows what the plan is.
Here’s how to structure your town hall meeting for success.
1. A warm welcome
Start your all-hands meeting with a warm welcome. Whether you host a town hall every week or every month, it’s important to set the tone with a lively greeting and a friendly face.
Welcome everyone and thank them for joining. Give everyone time to chat with people near them or split people into random breakout rooms and give them an icebreaker. At an in-person meeting, you might also have extra buffer time between your welcome and kicking things off to give people time to settle. With a virtual meeting, encourage conversation by greeting people as they join or asking an icebreaker question.
2. A clear agenda with rough timings
You might have something new to talk about at every town hall meeting, so set a clear agenda that gives everyone a structure to follow. Share this before the meeting so there are no major surprises for your team — unless they’re positive.
Your agenda should be easy to read and concise. It should include estimates of when you’ll address each agenda item. Use a similar template every time so people understand that you normally share a corporate update after a project update and that there’s always time at the end to bring up any other business.
3. Key company and project updates
One of the main purposes of a town hall meeting is to share information with the whole company at once. They’re a great way to celebrate a big client win, update your teams on a cross-company initiative, or discuss topics like benefits and stipends. When everyone knows what’s going on, you create new opportunities for cross-functional collaborations that can have a hugely positive impact right across the business.
Some examples of town hall meeting announcements include:
- Company growth
- Financial updates
- New hires and departures
Come to the meeting prepared with key updates, and be ready to answer questions. Take 5-10 minutes to share relevant key highlights with your team, and share additional details later in your meeting notes.
4. Personal news
Town hall meetings aren’t just for business. With everyone gathered together in one place, they’re also a good place to share any personal news that your teammates should know about.
Expect to see this space used for positive updates like pregnancy or adoption announcements, engagement and wedding announcements, and heads up on major vacations, sabbaticals, or learning opportunities.
People might also use this space to share sad news or ask for support or space through a difficult time. It’s important to let everyone know you’re there for them, whether it’s good news or bad.
In general, creating space in your town hall meeting for employees’ personal updates shows you’re interested in their lives.
5. Comments and frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Unlike other company meetings, town hall meetings create an opportunity for discussion and engagement. It’s not a hierarchical meeting — it’s a more balanced environment that creates room for connection.
All-hands meetings typically end with space for questions, comments, challenges, and feedback from team members. You can choose to take questions throughout the meeting or if you’d prefer to save them all for this agenda item.
Open the floor to hear team questions, concerns, or ideas about how to improve the company environment.
Note: While people might use this opportunity to raise a personal gripe, as the moderator, what really matters is how you handle it. After all, the problem means enough for them to publicly mention it. If you encounter any challenging remarks or questions that are just too difficult to handle on the spot, let everyone know you’ll come back to them in a certain timeframe.
4 ways to make your town hall meetings even better
Now that we all understand why town hall meetings are an amazing addition to the schedule, here’s how to make them even better. With Polly’s Slack and Microsoft Teams integrations, you can use polls and questions to help plan, run, improve, and add value to your all-hands meetings.
1. Plan your town hall meeting agenda collaboratively
Even though a manager usually sets the agenda for your town hall event, you might want to ask your team to add updates about projects, personal news, or “any other business” sections. If that’s the case, use our all-hands meeting prep template to gather ideas and suggestions. You can use this feedback to refine your agenda before the meeting.
2. Kick things off with an icebreaker
Your all-hands meeting doesn’t have to be super serious. Add a little fun to your virtual town hall meeting over Zoom with our icebreakers. Set a thoughtful or lighthearted question, and listen as the answers come in from your team members. If it makes sense, split everyone into small groups so everyone can participate within the time you’ve allotted.
3. Capture instant feedback with in-meeting polls
The beauty of adding technology to your town hall meeting is you can get instant feedback. If you’re hosting an in-person or hybrid event where people are at their desks, or a virtual all-hands meeting, use our instant engagement tools to get quick feedback about your meeting. Ask for opinions on topics, votes for or against ideas, or for a virtual show of hands for volunteers on a new initiative.
4. Improve future meetings with after-meeting feedback
It’s hard to know what people thought about your meeting and announcements if you don’t ask. Use our all-hands feedback template to get a feel for how the meeting went and what would make it better in the future. You can automate this whole process and schedule a polly to go out after every town hall meeting.
Looking for even more ideas to improve your town hall meetings? Take a look at our best tips on how to make your next all-hands meeting a success.
Host engaging town hall meetings with Polly
To recap, town hall meetings are a valuable addition to any company’s schedule. They’re an ideal way to connect with everyone, share news and updates, and ramp up your employee engagement.
If you’re ready to take your town hall meetings to the next level, add Polly to your tech stack. Discover an easier way to ask for agenda topics, gauge feedback in real time, and get suggestions for future meetings. Create an even better experience for your coworkers and transform your all-hands meetings today — try Polly for free.
Level up your next all-hands, try Polly for free today
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Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.