Whether you have two employees or 20, having a town hall meeting is an exciting opportunity to share the future of your business with them. Carefully plan your town hall presentation so that you encourage participation and empower your employees to do their jobs more effectively in the coming year.
Establish the Goal of Your Town Hall Presentation
Before you begin planning your town hall presentation, it’s critical to think about what you want to achieve with this all-hands meeting. The purpose of town hall meetings is to update the business’s employees about the financial and strategic status of the company and give them a chance to ask questions. However, there are many other objectives you can achieve with a town hall presentation, such as:
- Getting employees excited about the new direction of the company
- Informing employees about market trends and future financial projections
- Building employee engagement and reducing turnover
- Helping employees to feel more invested in their jobs
Once you have clearly outlined why you want to hold a town hall meeting, you can cater the presentation to achieve those goals.
Create an Encouraging Setting
Most town hall meetings are set up in a theater-like setting, where the employees sit in rows of chairs that all face the front of the room. The CEO or senior employees lead the meeting from the “stage” where everyone is facing. This kind of set up creates a formal atmosphere that can cause employees to feel uneasy. It also doesn’t encourage participation or camaraderie.
Instead, try to arrange the room so that your employees feel they are part of the team and have the ability to participate in the meeting. You can do this by having employees sit at round tables in a semicircle around the presentation. Avoid standing behind a podium, as that sends a formal vibe as well. Walk around the room if possible to engage with your employees.
Food brings people together. Have a simple meal to start the presentation. This helps employees to mingle with one another while they enjoy their food. Play uplifting music as people are entering to help set the tone for your town hall meeting presentation and get them excited.
Cater the Content to Your Audience
Your presentation should be tailored to your audience so that it is easy to follow. Don’t include financial or industry jargon if not all employees will understand it. Instead, translate the message into everyday language. Relate business terms to your employees’ everyday lives. How will taking the business in a new direction affect their work day? What kinds of changes can they expect in the coming year in terms of their tasks?
Focus on three to five key points in your presentation. Avoid overwhelming your employees with too much information. Instead, get into detail about your key talking points and offer them a perspective they haven’t heard yet. For example, if you want to introduce a new product, discuss the market share and competitors in addition to the benefits and features of the product.
Build your presentation in a slide format using a program like Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides. Don’t include too much text on the slides, as that will cause your employees to read instead of listening to you speak. Use images, charts and videos where applicable to tell the story of your business. Write your notes in bullet-point form on cue cards so you can follow along without having to read them word for word. It’s best to practice your speech a few times so you feel comfortable with the content.
Make Time for Employee Participation
Employee participation is key to a successful town hall presentation. Encourage employees to get involved by asking them questions. You can ask key individuals in the audience specific questions or have informal surveys where employees have to raise their hands to respond.
Build time into your agenda for an audience question-and-answer period. Coach senior employees prior to the meeting to ask specific questions. This helps show the rest of the employees that it’s OK to ask questions candidly, and it encourages participation.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.