Tips For Hosting A Virtual Town Hall Meeting
Town hall meetings have served as an important part of American politics for decades. This type of event can serve so many purposes for communities and even companies to broadcast information, get feedback, and create a sense of belonging or community. These meetings however can be costly, difficult to manage, and at times very stressful for the people organizing and even attending them. However, by hosting a virtual or hybrid event you can save money, boost moral, and get feedback from a wider audience.
Benefits of Hosting A Virtual or Hybrid Town Hall Meeting
Geography Isn't A Factor In Attendance
Recently, more and more companies have come to the realization that it isn't as important for people to live and work in the same geographic area. Companies were "pushed" to adapt to a remote working environment and a lot of companies have come to really enjoy the benifits of a remote workplace. However, it is still important for remote employees to feel like they belong and a virtual town hall meeting is a great way to keep employees informed of what is going on in the company, new policies, or give them a chance to provide feedback. If you are hosting a town hall for a community then members that may be vacationing elsewhere or are unable to physically come to the meeting can still be apart of it.
Tip: Create an event page with all of your virtual meeting info. When you decide to host town hall meeting, regardless of if it is an internal or external meeting, you should try and pre-plan an agenda and make it available on an event page. That way people know the topics that are going to be discussed ahead of time and if they will have an opportunity to provide any time of feedback or comments. If you are going to be asking the audience questions consider also posting them ahead of time to give people a chance to plan out what they are going to say. It will help keep the meeting on time, keep people from rambling, and let them feel like they really got a chance to say what they wanted to. You can also post the link or the video player where people can watch the broadcast so that everything is all on one easy to access page.
If we consider all the cost of hosting an in-person town hall such as venue cost, parking, security...etc the cost can really add up. By hosting a virtual town hall meeting it allows you to take advantage of tools like remote phone bridges and pre-recorded evergreen content. If you are a company then it will further reduce cost and keep employee productivity because your employees no longer have to travel to a location away from their home. Outside of just an hour or two out of their day employees can remain mostly productive.
Tip: Start your town hall celebrating positive wins. By starting the meeting with a positive win like an recent achievement it will get people in the right mind frame to participate and engage in the meeting.
Analytics and Real Time Feedback
When you host any type of event a huge undertaking is measuring its success. When you host a virtual town hall meeting you can get real time data, track participation, and verify attendance using a variety of different tools. After your event you can automate your post event followup using a platform like Active Campaign to send post-event evaluations and even offer a small incentive for filling it out.
What to consider when planning a virtual or hybrid town hall event.
- Consider What time zone your attendees are in and what time might be the best for everyone. If you are having a local community town hall then consider what time might be best for people. 8am is never good for people who have to work so what about hosting your Virtual Town hall at 6:30pm.
- Think about the people that will be needing to speak or engage. If you are doing a completely remote webinar based meeting then you will want to consider sending a "speaker" kit to each of your main host or presenters. By keeping the equipment consistent across everyone you ensure each presenter has similar video and audio quality.
- Think about how you want people to engage with your town hall. In order to do this you will need to make sure you have a clear idea and focus on what it is you want to accomplish. If you are looking for much back and forth discussion and feedback then you will want have a platform that is webinar based. If you are looking at wanting people to just be able to chat then make sure your technology platform or partner can accommodate that. Perhaps you only offer feedback through a phone conference bridge to have more control over the conversation and flow.
Steps To Planning A Virtual Event For Your Town Hall
Here are a few basic steps to planning a virtual or hybrid event. If you are looking for help figuring out the cost of putting on a virtual event then check out our other article on the cost of live streaming an event.
- Plan out the agenda for your meeting. What is it that you are wanting to accomplish? Are you looking to collect feedback from the attendees? If so what type of feedback are you looking at getting. Are you looking for two way communication, chat, or maybe just taking survey's and polls. Once you figure this out then work on the content that you are going to be addressing. Plan out the content in a logical way and then find a starting point for your meeting at a time most of your audience will be least inconvenienced.
- Create an event page that host your agenda, links for viewing, and any instructions your guest will need to sign on, interact, or attend your meeting.
- Choose a live streaming platform if you are looking at doing it yourself or a professional webcasting company if you are looking at partnering with a production company.
- Setup your engagement tools ahead of time. If you are using a platform that allows only one way communication consider using a platform that integrates to ask questions and have a two way chat.
- Test your setup! If you are doing your own hybrid meeting or virtual event production then you should always test your equipment! It is super important to make sure you are familiar with every part of your equipment so that if something starts to go wrong you can fix it. With a live stream or virtual event you don't get a do over. If you have problems you will loose your attendees.
- Plan a backup! If you are using a complex multi camera setup then it is super important that you plan a backup for if that system breaks down. You want to have a duplicate stream or a backup camera stream that you can send people to in the event your primary setup suffers a failure.
- Designate a facilitator. It is important in any event setup whether it be a virtual event or hybrid event to have someone to ensure the flow of the event stays smooth and on time. The facilitator can read questions from the chat and even help with minor technical issues so that you can focus on the meeting and getting your message out.
Reliable Virtual and Hybrid Event Production For Your Company
Regardless of if you are looking for someone to help plan your event, handle audio visual production, or help with creative solutions to make your event a success, check out Live Hub Events. Our staff of talented individuals come from theater, audio visual, design, event planning, and marketing backgrounds and bring their years of experience into producing the best event possible. We can help make your virtual events more meaningful and memorable.