Tapping into the wisdom of a town hall crowd

Interactive ‘electronic brainstorming’ technology can transform your next corporate meeting … if you know how to use it. Video

Interactive ‘electronic brainstorming’ technology can transform your next corporate meeting … if you know how to use it

Silence. Dead silence.

That’s what I was hearing at a town hall meeting I attended recently at a very large company. The CEO had just finished speaking and, following the usual format for these things, he asked the crowd of perhaps 300 employees for questions.

And got not a one. Not one hand went up. Not that this is man bites dog, of course. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a Q&A die a slow, silent death at an internal town hall meeting, I could retire to a villa in Italy.

Employees are afraid to ask questions at those meetings. They don’t want to call attention to themselves. It’s hard to stand up and ask even a softball question directly to the CEO. It’s almost impossible to stand up and ask a tough question.

The only times that I’ve witnessed a vibrant town hall Q&A was when people could submit questions anonymously, in advance. That tactic works, but it also has a major flaw. The questions have to be submitted in advance, so people can’t ask questions about the content they just heard.

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