Enterprise town halls have changed in so many ways that they are becoming somewhat unrecognizable… and that’s a good thing. From who to invite to what to present to how attendees felt about the program, West has given leadership teams an enterprise platform to make town halls easy and on point. Here are just a few of the top trends:
1. Cloud-based Technology
Organizations no longer require cumbersome and complex, distributed infrastructure that IT needs months to install and an onerous budget to maintain. The Cloud makes enterprises town halls a scalable solution ready to go anywhere at any time. Your CEO could be in a hotel conference room halfway across the world and still be able to easily access the same platform as the team back at headquarters. Cloud platforms also tap into mobile apps to make town halls not only viewable, but easy to participate in from smartphones and tablets. Cloud makes it cost effective to communicate critical information with frequency to all employees.
2. Social Media
As you prepare to put on a town hall, you can comb your organization’s social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter and internal platforms such as Cisco Jabber, for hot topics, questions that need answered, and other content. You also can solicit feedback by asking employees to hashtag their town hall topic suggestions.
3. Targeted and Automated Registration
When organizations think of a town hall, they often get stuck on the idea that the event has to be for everyone at once. Instead, you can plan multiple town halls based on the topics you plan to cover. Maybe you need to deliver a certain message to the sales team and another to facilities. Most likely, they don’t need to sit in on each other’s town hall. You can integrate your town hall webcast platform with Active Directory to ensure the appropriate attendees are invited and registered for the event. You can even block certain domains to ensure a secure environment.
4. Engaging and Interactive Content
Most people don’t want to endure long speeches during a town hall. They want their information in easy-to-digest bits that make use of multimedia. With today’s town hall platforms, you can present live polling to show the audience’s reaction and engage them for more information, blend in bits of video, and post audience questions on the screen in real time. For instance, when talking about sales reports, you can post a photo of the month’s top salesperson, the logos for the clients they’ve brought in, a spreadsheet highlighting their record numbers, and more. You can even bring the salesperson into the conversation on the fly via chat or video conference from their location.
The more you do to visualize information at a fast pace, but not carnival level, the more your attendees will retain the information. Also, the technology platform you select should account for your global presence and offer translation services in other languages.
5. Integrated Flexibility
While you’ll want to pre-program some content elements, such as PowerPoint presentations or spreadsheets, you also need a platform that is agile. If it becomes apparent that employees want to know why you are discontinuing a product line, you should be able to quickly call up a web page that shows customer complaints or other supporting evidence that might not have been part of the original program. Or if employees need a concept explained, you should be able to connect to a project engineer. You want to have tools at the ready, including an ability to switch over to a whiteboard, that allow you to communicate your message to its fullest.
6. Analytics and Reporting
It’s important to analyze every aspect of your town hall from whether you had the right audience to whether they dropped off early. Maybe they did so because of the time you opted for or maybe they had an obvious conflict that could have been avoided. Make sure that your employees were able to take advantage of all the features of your platform, including polling, chat, and Q&A. Whatever you uncover should be added to your book of best practices for town halls.
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