How to make your town hall a success

Simplify your agenda, and be careful with prerecorded video. A new guide offers pointers on making the most of your interactive employee gathering—whether webcast or in person.

It’s costly to divert your workforce from their everyday jobs for an hour and herd them into a town hall meeting.

That means you’d better make the best of the time you have, whether it’s held in person or webcast.

“You’re taking an hour of your employees’ time and want to make those town halls worthwhile and valuable—you want them to have impact,” says Jocelyn Sims, internal communications manager at Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Don’t waste that precious time, Sims and other experts say in a new guide from Ragan Communications and MediaPlatform. The free guide, “How to Produce a Stellar Town Hall,” is available here.

Download this free guide from Ragan Communications and MediaPlatform, and you’ll learn:

  • How to make town halls an opportunity to build messaging, share news, rally the troops and create a shared sense of purpose.
  • How to plan for success-and involve local leads.
  • Winning techniques from Oprah Winfrey.
  • Why one chief executive and his admin delivered their earnings report in rap.
  • How to alter your meeting’s dynamic-for the better-by changing the room arrangement.
  • Why rehearsal is essential.
  • Why you should trim that agenda, then trim it again.
  • What a guest speaker can bring to your town hall.
  • How to involve your audience, both in the room and webcast.
  • An easy trick for personalizing your meeting—even for those who aren’t there in person.
  • How to feature employees. (They’ll love you for it.)
  • How to overcome those awkward silences when you call for questions.


One key takeaway: Simplify. Don’t overload your audience by communicating everything you’ve wanted to say for the past year. Choose one big idea and maybe a couple of supplemental points, says Alison Davis of Davis & Co., who consults with organizations about town halls.

“You get a lot of information that is going into short-term memory and has nothing to stick to and goes flying out again,” she says.

You may have heard that video is the new “must” for internal communications. But in a town hall, prerecorded video can be risky. Your goal is to create a feeling of togetherness, Davis says. Sitting in the dark watching a video might not be the answer.

“Video can be fabulous if it’s very emotional, if it’s quick, if it’s something that could illustrate or brings to light a concept that otherwise would not work,” Davis says. Otherwise, avoid it.

Run-throughs are essential to get the presenter comfortable with the information and convey it in the best possible manner, Accola says. Often when you rehearse, you discover a punchier way to say something or a clearer way to convey a thought or idea.

“Make sure that you map out the different points that are going to be discussed,” he says. “Stick to that map, work on the plan you’ve developed to keep things going, and keep on track to make sure people stay engaged and interested.”

Download your free guide now.

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