How Your Company Can Benefit From Town Hall Meetings

At FireStart, we implemented a communal "town hall" meeting to engage our FireStarters. Having regular town halls is one way that we encourage open communication and foster a truly flat workplace.

Once a month, employees and managers alike look forward to the town hall where we can all come together to learn about how we are performing as one. It's a great way to evaluate our collective performance and celebrate our wins while also keeping lines of communication between departments and teams open.

The town hall also gives C-Level leadership an opportunity to share relevant topics to the whole company, including business trajectory, company initiatives, and personnel changes.

What is a town hall meeting in a company?

A town hall meeting is an organizational business meeting where an executive report is shared and employees have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with executives. It is sometimes referred to as an all-hands meeting in some organizations.

The meetings are usually held in person in a large conference room, however, since the pandemic, virtual town hall meetings have also become common. At FireStart, we oscillate between in-person, remote, and hybrid town hall meetings depending on the Covid-19 restrictions, so every employee can follow in real-time.

The meeting is separated into two parts. The first part is a presentation about the current happenings of the business and important milestones passed by different departments. A representative from each department presents the achievement of the teams, which also allows management insight into how each team is performing. The second half of the meeting is a question and answer style format where everyone in the company can ask questions and receive guidance from management.

Town hall meeting plan

What is the purpose of a town hall meeting?

Employees, more often than not, relish in the opportunity to directly engage with and communicate their ideas to upper-level management. A town hall meeting format is the perfect way to provide everyone with an opportunity to be heard, to share their successes, and celebrate the achievements of the team together.

The most important factor in a town hall meeting is joint participation. It's not a lecture, it's a forum!

You should start hosting town halls if you want to:

  1. Improve internal communication. Town halls help break down silos between departments, and between employees and management. A town hall can be an important touchpoint so that everyone in the business is on the same page.

  2. Share employee appreciation. Each team has its own milestones and successes that can easily pass under the radar. It's these little successes that add up to big company successes -- so celebrate them! Teams will appreciate their little and big wins being recognized.

  3. Enhance leadership visibility. The larger an organization becomes, the easier it is for both employees and managers to lose touch with one another. Humans are tribal at heart, so naturally, any chance to reconnect and strengthen bonds is greatly appreciated.

  4. Foster team spirit. Through collaboration and raw, unfiltered feedback, a sense of comradery can be developed authentically. This is the kind of connection that goes beyond flashy perks. It's the ability of employees and managers to build a company that wants the best for one another and cheers each other on.

How do you set up a town hall meeting?

The town hall meeting format is quite simple; the idea is to have several short presentations that cover different aspects of the company under an overarching theme.

Setting up and preparing to present a town hall meeting can feel overwhelming. These 4 steps below shed some light on how to best implement your next town hall meeting.

  • Step 1: Define a clear focus and theme. Setting a theme for the town hall and a focus will help make the meeting easier to follow. Many times, meeting invites are sent without a clear agenda, which can cause confusion and risk vital points not being communicated. 

  • Step 2: Organize speakers and content. Planning out in advance who will present what is essential for a smooth town hall. Letting the speakers know with a good amount of time in advance will ensure that each speaker has time to prepare a short but impactful presentation. Deciding on the content that will be communicated and presented is also important, and should fit into your overarching town hall theme. It's also worth considering having a mix of employees and managers to cover a wide variety of perspectives.

  • Step 3: Set your rules. It's important to set clear rules and guidelines so everyone has an equal amount of time to cover their topics while not letting the session run overtime. Some of our key rules are: everyone must communicate openly, feedback must be given constructively, and speakers should prepare a succinct presentation.

  • Step 4: Consider the mood. Business-as-usual doesn't have to be serious! To engage with all your employees and keep motivation running high, it's important to consider the style of communication. Inject some humor to lift the mood, congratulate the efforts of all teams, and when it comes to more serious topics, don't shy away from being frank. Encouraging transparency, rather than hiding behind smoke screens, is equally important to build trust and team spirit.

An agenda for your next town hall

Setting an agenda for your upcoming town hall meeting is important because it ensures that the presentation is succinct, relevant, and involves everyone -- without running overtime.

The town hall agenda format can be broken down into three main areas:

  • Management updates the company. The management team has 30 minutes to update the company on the current happenings. This can include incoming leads, growth over the past month, and the leader's vision for the coming month.

  • Milestones are discussed. Give teams the floor for 10 minutes each to share their monthly milestones. Teams can share how they contributed to the larger business goals, like Sales outreach strategies, or the current Marketing strategy results.

  • Question time. Allocate 10 minutes at the end for question time. Ask everyone to submit their questions beforehand and open to floor to any additional queries about the response. This allows for a dynamic forum atmosphere so that leaders can accurately ascertain how employees feel.

After the town hall, it's really important that upper management follows up on the actionable points of the town hall. This develops and builds trust within the organization. When run properly, town halls can increase employee engagement, retention, and improve the company's bottom line.

Town halls empower us to build a better business 

At FireStart, continuous improvement is a top priority for us. It's why we decided to implement town halls in the first place! Feedback is so important to us because it allows everyone to grow and evolve, which helps us as a business to expand and improve too.

In our Golden Circle of business values, our mission statement is, "to empower people and technology to perform as one so you can make a difference" and next to that some of our values are, transparency, trust, and joy.

Town hall benefits

This is intertwined with how we run our business, and also how we design our product. Business Process Management (BPM) is about making a difference in the lives of all employees and managers, so we can help them create more transparency, build trust within the organization, and ultimately, find more joy. A huge part of this product discovery is feedback. When there's no feedback, there's no room for innovation.

The town hall meetings are FireStart mirror how we design our product and how we approach our daily work. We're always able to identify areas of improvement for each department so everyone in the organization can continue to grow.

Due to the pandemic, we now have an agile, hybrid workforce. With remote working and home office days now the norm, it's more important than ever to meet up and discuss our progress in town hall meetings.

Even with remote work, we're still able to build a strong community, foster team spirit, and find joy in our daily work.