Best Practices For Holding Engaging Virtual Town Hall Meetings

Virtual Town Hall (or All Hands) meetings are essential for building a strong remote culture and team alignment. Learn our best practices for keeping your team engaged and inspired.

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Best Practices For Holding Engaging Virtual Town Hall Meetings

Photograph of Philip Wang
Estelle Nagel

With so many companies working remotely, nurturing your company culture and keeping widely dispersed employees engaged and aligned with your mission and vision can be tricky. Virtual Town Hall meetings (or All Hands meetings) have become crucially important to create a community culture and share results, goals, and changes. But it’s not always easy to keep your audience engaged.

Here are our best tips for how to make a Virtual Town Hall productive, engaging, and fun. But first, let’s talk about what a Virtual Town Hall Meeting is.

What Is a Virtual Town Hall Meeting/All Hands Meeting? 

A Virtual Town Hall meeting is a company-wide event hosted online by the leadership or upper management team to keep the entire company updated about projects, results, and any important changes to the company. The term actually comes from the meetings held by politicians in the local town hall to discuss important legislation or topics affecting the community.

Nowadays, virtual town halls refer to company meetings held online, with all employees in attendance, either as a live stream event or a video meeting with polls and Q&A sessions. Regular town halls are a way of celebrating employee achievements, sharing company values and business updates, and can improve employee morale.

The Importance Of Town Hall Meetings For Remote Companies

Online town hall meetings have always been an important (and effective) way to keep the entire organization informed and abreast of important milestones and changes, but it’s even more important when teams work remotely. 

Teams that work remotely, either full-time or part-time, means that employees are geographically dispersed, and it becomes nearly impossible to get your entire staff together in the same place and at the same time. Without regular company-wide get-togethers, distributed teams can lose sight of the bigger picture and start feeling removed from the company culture. Hosting town hall meetings virtually can bridge those gaps.

Fortunately, with advances in technology, there are very clever tools that companies can use so that employees can reap the benefits of face-to-face interaction, even when working remotely and in different time zones, including: 

  • Working together, apart: When teams are geographically dispersed, getting together all your employees in person can be costly and inconvenient. With the right tools, a team can engage and collaborate in a virtual environment without the hassle of travel. 
  • Increased engagement: Town hall meetings are a great way for employees to get to know upper management and ask questions, which can improve morale. A good town hall experience can reinforce the sense of community and culture. 
  • Cost savings: Many companies have reduced the size of their offices, or done away with them completely, which means that they may need to spend money on external venues to host large meetings. Virtual town hall meetings bypass the need to spend money on a venue, parking, hotels, expenses, and meals for traveling employees. 

Best Practices For Hosting Virtual Town Hall Meetings

Not all virtual town hall meetings are equal. If despite your best efforts, employees are attending virtual town halls but not participating or asking questions, you might need to rethink the way you host these events. To make the most of your virtual town hall and avoid meeting fatigue, you want to create an atmosphere that is informative and engaging.

There are a few best practices you should adhere to when you are setting up your virtual town hall meeting: 

  1. Bring in elements of realism
  2. Set the rules of engagement early
  3. Make it participative
  4. Have fun!
  5. Avoid tech issues
  6. Use an engaging platform

Bring in elements of realism

The problem with Zoom-style meetings is that they aren’t very interesting, and it doesn’t really feel like real life. Instead of mingling and contributing, there are often moments of dead silence and awkward pauses. If you can, make the space feel more organic and natural

An example of an All Hands template in Gather, with several spaces for small groups to sit.

Gather Design Tip: When creating a room for your All Hands meetings, add tables and chairs so people can sit in small groups. This will encourage your teammates to mingle before and after the official presentation.

Set the rules of engagement early

Efficiency is key. Ask that team members don’t multitask during the meeting to get the most out of the experience. Let employees know that there will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end to avoid interruptions. Sometimes the best way to boost employee engagement is to ensure that expectations are set upfront.

Make it participative 

Good conversations aren’t one-way events. Make sure employees can contribute through interactive elements like live polls, Q&As, and even games or breakout rooms.

Town hall meetings may be the only opportunity team members have to raise concerns or ask your senior leadership team questions (or celebrate a big win together!), so make sure they have ample opportunity to participate. 

Looking for new meeting formats to implement during your town hall? Try these ideas on Gather!

Have fun!

Town hall meetings shouldn’t resemble lectures or press junkets. Have fun and bring some of your cultures into the space with visuals, images, games, and ice breakers. It sets the tone and adds the flavor of your company’s culture upfront. If the town hall feels less scripted and formal, your employees will feel more inclined to contribute. 

Avoid tech issues

A town hall meeting means that the entire company is present…along with barking dogs, beeping trucks, and cellphone feedback. Make sure that you can play videos, share slides and screens, and mute participants if you need to. There are many virtual event platforms that can help you create a good experience with minimal disruption.

Use an engaging platform.

This may seem obvious, but if you want to host an engaging virtual town hall meeting, you should use an engaging platform. Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet technically all work, but they weren’t designed for social interaction and group participation. Using a tool that is built to be engaging for remote companies (like Gather) is the best way to get your team excited about what you have to say. 

When you create a virtual office on Gather, you can build a dedicated room for Town Hall meetings. Not only does it function great for hosting the meeting itself, but this gives everyone the chance to mingle before/after the All Hands. It’s easy to talk to people you’re next to, walk out of the meeting together, and continue conversations at someone’s virtual desk. 

Gather can create exciting meeting spaces, opportunities for team building and having fun, and a warm and organic collaboration environment. 

Conclusion

If you’ve been searching for a way to make your town halls more exciting and engaging, your next stop should be Gather. Gather was designed to help remote teams build meaningful connections regardless of physical location. Holding your All Hands in your own custom virtual office will help capture and keep your audience’s attention without distracting from your main message. Best of all, it’s free!

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