Human Resources

How to Host a Virtual Town Hall Meeting in 2023?

Published on June 2, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 9 min. read

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How to Host a Virtual Town Hall Meeting in 2022

The shift to remote working means there are now no limits to accessing global talent, but it comes at a price.

It’s harder to create a sense of community and cohesion when employees only interact online, and keeping everyone on the same page is a challenge.

One solution is to hold a virtual town hall meeting. But what is it? And, how can you avoid contributing to “zoom fatigue” with yet another online meeting?

We reached out to our internal communications team to ask them:

  • What town hall meetings are
  • How they differ from other business meetings
  • Why you should hold one
  • What topics you should cover
  • How you can organize one, and what tools to use
  • How you can make it engaging, and measure the success

Ready to find out? Let’s go.

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What is a virtual town hall meeting?

A virtual town hall meeting is an online, company-wide event organized by upper management and featuring interactive elements like Q&As, live chat, and polls to boost employee engagement. It’s a corporate, online version of traditional town hall meetings, which allow citizens to interact with and put questions to authority figures.

The purpose of a town hall meeting is to keep employees working from home updated about company news, developments, and performance. And to nurture company culture and build community among remote teams.

Town hall best practices

What’s the difference between a virtual town hall meeting and other internal business meetings?

Online town halls are similar to other business communications like an all-hands meeting in that they involve the whole company. However, all-hands meetings are generally more top-down and focused on conveying a message and/or giving a presentation. Virtual town hall meetings involve more two-way communication, interaction, and opportunities for employees to put questions to management.

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Webinars Webinars

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Learn how Guru and Livestorm adapted their internal communication strategies to create higher engagement and collaboration in this hybrid environment.

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What are the benefits of a virtual town hall meeting for your team?

Virtual town halls are an important part of many companies’ internal communications strategy and have several benefits:

  • They connect and align employees to your organization’s mission, vision, and long-term goals: Sharing new developments, goals, and results helps get everyone on the same page and working together to achieve company success.
  • They’re an opportunity to reinforce and promote company culture and values, which are reflected in the topics and tone of the meeting.
  • They’re a valuable platform to recognize and celebrate employee achievements and make them feel heard.
  • Transparency and two-way dialogue helps build trust, empathy, and a sense of community, and bridges the “us-and-them” divide between employees and management.
  • It’s a more cost-effective way of bringing remote teams together than an in-person event.
Online town hall on Livestorm

What types of topics should be covered in a virtual town hall meeting?

Possible topics for a virtual town hall meeting include sharing industry and company news, setting long-term goals, discussing departmental progress, celebrating achievements, and introducing new employees.

Industry and company news

Keep employees up to date with important developments in your industry or company. For example, expansions, acquisitions, new departments, hiring, or policy. Sharing KPIs, statistics, or financial results also promotes transparency and trust.

Long-term goals

This is a good time to remind everyone of the company’s mission and vision, and what’s coming down the pipeline, and allows them to prepare and stay focused.

Department progress reports

Remote teams may rarely interact, if ever. So this is a chance for them to hear from each other. This helps them understand other teams' objectives and challenges, which fosters empathy.

Company and individual achievements

Celebrating company achievements fosters community, boosts morale, and motivates employees. Spotlighting individual high achievers makes them feel valued, and shows everyone that hard work is appreciated and recognized.

Introduce new employees or share employee news

Putting a face to the name helps overcome the sense of disconnect that comes with online relationships. Sharing employee news like births, marriages, etc. (like they would in the office break room) makes people seem more human. The virtual town hall is also a good time to focus on employee wellbeing and let teams know you have their back if they’re struggling with workload, etc.

Virtual town hall planning

Virtual town hall meeting agenda template

Here’s a sample employee town hall meeting agenda you can steal.

  • Welcome icebreaker or opening address by a senior leader to set the tone. Make sure to keep this short and light to avoid descending into just another dull corporate meeting.
  • Housekeeping. Share the meeting duration, agenda, and objectives, and let people know how and when they can participate. For example, via polls, chat, or Q&A.
  • Company updates, news, or achievements, shared by someone on the leadership team.
  • Live poll on an important topic to boost engagement and find out what they really think.
  • Updates or initiatives in focus, presented by team leaders.
  • Employee wins and shout-outs to recognize the efforts of individuals, from team leaders, HR, or colleagues.
  • Ask-me-anything Q&A.
  • Big announcements.
  • Action items and Thank you.
Town hall meeting agenda

How do you organize a virtual town hall meeting?

This step-by-step guide will keep you on track when organizing your virtual town hall meeting.

  1. Establish what you want to cover and select speakers from different departments accordingly. You can survey employees beforehand to see what they want or invite questions in advance.
  2. Assign a host. It’s their job to moderate and keep the meeting on track so they should be experienced in public speaking and crowd management.
  3. Plan the agenda. Set time limits for each speaker and be realistic about what you can cover. Have clearly defined sections to keep things on track, and include interactive segments, like polls and surveys, live chat, or Q&A to keep participants engaged.
  4. Set a date and create your event in your virtual event platform. If you’re using Livestorm, you can create a branded registration page and automate sending invitations and reminders.
  5. Promote the event on your internal communications channels. With Livestorm, you can use the Slack and Twitter integrations to share right from the event platform.
  6. Gather presentations and organize a rehearsal for speakers. A key feature of virtual town halls is the employee-to-management Q&A section, so this is a good time to prepare for tough questions.
  7. Test the technology during rehearsals. Make sure everyone has a high-speed internet connection and can access the meeting and share their screen. Use a browser-based platform like Livestorm so nobody has to download and install any software on their devices.
  8. Share the agenda and send out automated reminders in the run-up to the event.
  9. On the day, record the meeting and use Livestorm’s on-demand feature to share it with participants after the event.
  10. Send out a survey to get feedback about the event, and analyze your engagement analytics.
Tools for virtual town hall

How can you keep a virtual town hall meeting engaging?

Remote teams spend a lot of time in virtual meetings, so engaging your audience is more important than ever.

Here’s how.

Use icebreakers

Set the tone at the start of the meeting with fun icebreakers that let them know this isn’t just another tedious, top-down meeting. Try asking employees to share something they love, announcing the results of company competitions, or holding a screen background challenge.

Have a guest MC

Try inviting an employee or guest to host the meeting, which makes a change from the same old management faces. It’s fun and motivating for employees to see one of their own “on the other side” and it should encourage them to join in.

Have clearly defined segments

People’s attention spans are shorter online, so keep sections short and content interesting or fun. Have a clear start and end to each section, and have breaks in long meetings. Moving around gets the blood flowing to the brain again and ensures employees come back fresh and ready to take part.

Have an “ask me anything” Q&A

Break down barriers between employees and leadership with a segment where people can voice concerns and get answers from management. Make it clear that this is a safe space where employees can speak freely.

Celebrate employees

There’s nothing more motivating than getting a shout-out in front of the whole company, so you’re sure to have everyone’s full attention here. And for those who don’t get a mention, it gives them something to aim for next time.

Include activities and humor

Games, quizzes, and other fun activities are a great way to get people interacting and break up the monotony of listening to presentations. And a bit of healthy competition never did anyone any harm. Set up huddle rooms for teams to discuss and work together. And use gifs, fun visuals, and jokes to get people’s attention again after a presentation.

Use an interactive video engagement platform

Virtual town halls are all about two-way communication, so use a platform like Livestorm with features that promote interaction. For example, huddle rooms to discuss in small groups; polls and surveys to gather feedback; and live chat for the Q&A. Allowing people to contribute at regular intervals boosts engagement and makes them feel heard. Reaction emojis also allow them to give feedback during talks instead of just passively listening.

Leave key announcements till the end

Front-load the meeting with important stuff and there’s less incentive for employees to stay till the end. Roll out important announcements–like incentives, holidays, or bonuses–before wrapping to keep them engaged all the way through.

Team on  town hall meeting

What tools should you use to host a virtual town hall meeting?

A high-quality virtual event platform should be the cornerstone of your internal communication software and tools stack.

There are several options for virtual town hall software, like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. But they lack many engagement features and tend to require participants to have an account or install software, which is a barrier to participation.

Go for a browser-based video engagement platform like Livestorm instead that’s packed with features to keep people engaged–reaction emojis, polls and surveys, live chat, etc.

Best of all, it integrates with all the other tools you need for streamlined event management and hosting:

  • Typeform to send pre-meeting surveys, build your attendee list, and create new registrants automatically in Livestorm
  • Mailchimp to sync webinar attendees with your email lists
  • A timer plugin to keep everything running on schedule
  • A tool to share downloadable materials during the event
  • Google Analytics to monitor traffic from your custom event view
  • Slack to set up alerts when someone registers, and when the event is about to start
  • Also, to get an overview of the participation afterward

How do you know if your virtual town hall meeting is successful?

You can measure the success of your virtual town hall meeting by sending an anonymous survey to ask for feedback afterward. If you’re using Livestorm, you also get detailed analytics for registrations, attendance, participation, and interaction rates.

 Questions to ask your ceo in a town hall

Virtual town hall adjourned!

A virtual town hall meeting is a great way to build community and cohesion between remote teams. But you need to make it engaging and different from regular business meetings.

Get your teams interacting and involved, and combat screen fatigue with two-way communication, fun icebreakers and sections, and lots of opportunities to provide feedback and ask questions. All of which comes as part of the package when you use an interactive video engagement platform like Livestorm.

Co-workers on online town hall

Frequently asked questions about virtual town hall meetings

How often should a company host a virtual town hall meeting?

How often your company holds a town hall meeting will depend on how much news there is to share. However, a quarterly or monthly check-in is usually enough to keep everyone in the loop.

Can you hold a virtual town hall meeting over Zoom?

You can hold a virtual town hall meeting over Zoom, but its engagement features are limited and the need to download and install the software is a barrier to participation. Use a browser-based video engagement platform like Livestorm that comes with lots of engagement features instead.

What should you prepare for a virtual town hall meeting?

For a virtual town hall meeting, you should prepare an agenda and presentations and set up an event page with a registration form. You may also want to include videos and visuals.

How should you promote a virtual town hall meeting?

You can promote a virtual town hall meeting over your company’s internal communications channels, like Slack, email, or social media.