What is a corporate town hall meeting? A corporate town hall meeting is a company-wide gathering organized by executives to connect with employees and discuss the present state and prospective future of the company. Company town halls, as the name implies, are meant to make employees feel a sense of participation in the running of the business. A company town hall is where managers and employees can meet as equals and have an honest exchange of ideas, opinions, and perspectives.
A company town hall meeting is typically hosted by upper management, and is attended by all employees in a large conference hall. Lately, virtual town hall meetings have replaced the traditional forum. Instead of meeting in a large space, employees and management meet and communicate through an online portal.
There are even some instances in which a hybrid (physical and virtual) format is employed. This is sometimes necessary in global companies that have teams, offices, and managers scattered across different time zones and where people engage in remote working.
What Is the Purpose of a Town Hall Meeting at Work?
Employee engagement is the primary purpose of a town hall meeting. To give a company town hall meeting meaning, it should fulfill the following objectives:
1. Align employees with corporate goals
Management should take this time to reacquaint employees with the company’s goals and how performance standards relate to them.
2. Give employees the big picture
A corporate town hall is the perfect place to report business results. Everyone likes to know that the work they do makes a difference. Giving employees a sense of where the company stands financially, and within its industry, can also put people at ease about their own livelihoods and future with the company.
3. Build a company culture
By being open and forthright about the company’s successes and its challenges, upper management can set the tone for how problems are solved and goals are set. It makes employees feel that they have a home in the company and a stake in its future.
Keep Reading: 10 virtual event ideas for your business
What Can You Expect at a Company Town Hall Meeting?
The most effective town hall has a clear meeting agenda. The typical town hall has three phases. They are as follows:
- The CEO or a senior manager opens the meeting with general remarks or a presentation that provides an overview of the company and a prospectus of its future.
- Next, other managers discuss their own initiatives and projects. They may give even more information on financials, projections, and the market status of the company.
- Finally, the floor is opened for a Q&A session.
Need help establishing a virtual or hybrid setting for your meeting agenda? Check out this custom-built town hall meeting portal.
What Are Good Questions to Ask at a Town Hall Meeting?
The questions and answers session may be the most important part of a corporate town hall meeting. If your management team has scheduled a town hall meeting, then you should go prepared to ask questions. Some attendees may find it challenging to formulate impactful questions. So to get you headed in the right direction, here are a few ideas:
1. What challenges, if any, is the company facing?
Though the CEO may not fully divulge what challenges the company will have to contend with, the question itself shows that you are thinking about the future of the company, and it may get you noticed as someone who is ripe for development as a future leader.
2. What major upcoming projects is the company engaged in?
If you have a solid understanding of where the company is going, you can figure out how to be an asset in its growth and development.
3. What is being done to reduce employee turnover and increase overall retention?
If people seem to be leaving the company in an endless stream, it can affect the health of the company and therefore your job — especially if the most experienced and competent members have gone elsewhere. You should find out if the higher-ups have noticed this trend as well, and get their thoughts on what can be done to stop it.
4. How important is it for you and senior leadership to hire and promote from within?
If you like the company you work for and want to advance in it, you should try to get a read on how senior management feels about this. You may get a generic or less than straightforward answer, as no CEO can guarantee that all available management vacancies will be filled by people within the company.
However, the answer you are given may help you make a more informed decision on your own future at the company.
5. What problems keep you up at night?
This is another question that the CEO may try to avoid answering. On the other hand, they may do so forthrightly. If the latter happens, then it will help you and your team prioritize certain problems and work more efficiently toward their solution.
If in their answer, the CEO divulges more than they mean to, it can be an indication that the company is in serious trouble, which means you should begin looking for new opportunities outside the company.
How To Get Started With Town Hall Meetings
If you are planning your own town hall, you should sit down with other managers and members of the executive team to establish a format and meeting agenda.
In addition to agreeing on the information that will be shared with the employees, you should also anticipate some of their questions and think about ways to answer them honestly and succinctly.
If you will be an employee participant in a corporate town hall meeting, then you should go to the event with a set of questions written down or readily accessible on your smartphone. Do not assume the meeting is a meaningless exercise. If nothing else, you may get noticed by a member of senior management for asking the kind of question that shows you have potential.
Need help planning a virtual or hybrid town hall meeting? We’d love to help. At ICV Digital Media, we help companies of all shapes and sizes – and from all around the world – plan their town hall meetings. To learn more, give us a call or reach out to us online.