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Better Meetings

How to host company town hall meetings that make an impact

How to host a company town hall meeting - featured image

Company town hall meetings are a great way to boost employee engagement, share important information, and put names to faces.

But a town hall meeting isn’t a quick daily check-in. A successful town hall event requires a lot of planning.

In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about town hall meetings, and we’ll share tips to make your next one the most successful yet. 

Table of contents

  • What is a company town hall meeting?

  • What’s the purpose of a town hall meeting?

  • Town hall meeting vs. all-hands meeting

  • Common company town hall meeting topics

  • How to host awesome town hall meetings

What is a company town hall meeting?

Company town hall meetings are large gatherings where company leadership teams (aka upper management) connect with employees on important updates and business priorities.

Company town hall meetings are often thought of as the corporate version of political town halls, where officials or politicians meet with their constituents to discuss community issues, upcoming legislation, or upcoming elections. 

Since town hall meetings are large-scale and typically involve the entire company, they’re usually held in large conference rooms when done in person. 

But…town halls as virtual meetings are becoming common. And all the best virtual meetings have thoughtful meeting agendas to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Virtual town hall meeting agenda

A great way to start your town hall is by introducing leadership team members, thanking employees for helping the company achieve its goals, and a recap of business priorities.

For a complete list of topics, here’s an agenda template by Nima Torabi for your next town hall:

Virtual town hall meeting agenda template

Get this free town hall meeting template >

What’s the purpose of a town hall meeting?

A town hall meeting’s purpose is to:

  • Align the entire company on goals 

  • Reduce the gap between employees and the leadership team

  • Foster and build corporate culture

From these main three objectives flow the benefits of town hall meetings. Team members gain greater transparency into company goals and how they’re set, and interacting directly with upper management also fosters a sense of community. 

An effective town hall meeting, therefore, helps the whole company become closer and more aligned with the same goals and values. 

Town hall meeting vs. all-hands meeting

An all-hands meeting is typically held to announce changes or updates on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Town hall meetings, on the other hand, are more focused on open discussion and usually happen once a quarter to once a year.

But both of these meetings are large-scale and involve the whole company, which is why the two terms are often used interchangeably. 

Company town hall meeting topics

We’ll go over some of the most common meeting topics to give you an idea of what kind of discussions you can have if you choose to hold regular town hall meetings. 

Business and project updates

One of the main functions of a town hall meeting is to share updates with the entire company at once. Updates might come in the form of news about a client win, progress on a cross-functional initiative, or a discussion about planned changes for the company’s benefits policy. 

Examples of town hall announcements are:

  • Company growth updates 

  • Project milestones

  • Financial updates

  • Business challenges the company is currently facing

  • New hires and departures 

  • Shoutouts to individuals and teams who went above and beyond

If you’re a meeting organizer, come to the town hall prepared with some key updates about the company, as that’s a great way to kick off the meeting. Be prepared for a live Q&A, since interactivity is the point of a town hall meeting.

Personal news

Town hall meetings don’t have to be all business. Opening up the floor for team members to share personal stories and updates will go a long way toward fostering a sense of belonging and community. 

This part of the meeting can see news such as engagements, weddings, pregnancies, and adoptions, or any other personal successes (like running a marathon or gaining a certification!).

Using a town hall meeting for personal news like this is especially important in the late-stage-pandemic world of remote work, where people work across borders and different time zones. It’s a chance for team members to get to know each other as more than just co-workers.  

How to host awesome town hall meetings

A town hall meeting is a unique opportunity to have the entire company in one place, which offers team-building benefits you don’t want to miss out on. Follow these tips to make the most of your town hall meetings:

How to host awesome town hall meetings - graphic

✅ Set the tone with a warm welcome

Good meeting culture and etiquette involves a warm welcome and thanks to all the attendees for taking time out of their schedules to join you. 

After this, it’s not a bad idea to give people a little buffer before starting the meeting in earnest. For an in-person meeting, team members might chat with people next to them as speakers get ready after your welcome message. 

You can replicate that in a virtual meeting by doing a round of icebreaker questions or sharing something funny.

✅ Set a meeting agenda

Every meeting should have an agenda — especially town halls. Without one, it’s easy to get off track and waste time.

The best agendas are simple and concise and leave no room for surprise. They list all the meeting activities and topics, and give a set time frame for each. Share your town hall agenda at least 1-2 days before the meeting so people know what to expect and can prepare questions.

✅ Keep track of time

To respect everyone’s time, stick to the agenda as much as possible. That means starting and finishing on time, and sticking to the time limits for each agenda item. 

Of course, a large and long meeting with a lot of people is always going to generate new areas of discussion. Table these discussions for the next town hall or hold meetings with the appropriate people at a later date. You can have a “parking lot” section in your meeting notes to keep a record of the ideas and concerns raised. 

💡 Tip: Vowel helps you keep your meetings focused and on track. You can easily add a timer to any of the items on your shared agenda, and adjust it as needed. The timer will serve as an objective reminder to all speakers of how much time is left for any particular discussion. 

Agenda timers in Vowel

✅ Record the meeting

Sometimes, people have to miss a meeting — but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to see it later.

Vowel lets you create on-demand recordings of your meetings. It’s built in, so you don’t need to download any add-ons or pay for additional services — and when you turn on recording, you transcribe your meetings in real time, with your transcript synced to the recording (making it easy to search later!).

Post-meeting view with transcript

✅ Save time for questions

Remember: the whole point of a town hall meeting is to connect and engage directly with your employees. Town halls should encourage open discussion, which means leaving ample time for questions.

To make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, build in an open question period either at the end of the meeting or after each focus topic in the agenda. To make sure there are no silences, have a list of questions prepared in case you need to kick off this part of the meeting.

Tip: Be prepared for employees to ask difficult questions or even air out some personal grievances during the Q&A session. If this happens, address the issue head-on while promising to follow up in more detail later. 

Host better company town hall meetings with Vowel

A good company town hall meeting boosts employee morale and fosters a sense of community and belonging. Large virtual meetings are never a cakewalk, but the proper tools can make them a lot easier. 

Team video call in Vowel, a video conferencing and meeting tool

Vowel's built-in agendas, talk timers, emojis, and built-in recording and transcription make virtual town halls more organized, fun, and accessible. Check it out for yourself by trying it for free