Build Excitement and Engagement for Town Halls

Linda Dulye's picture


Okay, you’ve got your next Town Hall meeting etched into your leaders’ calendars – that’s no small accomplishment.

With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on an even tougher task: getting employees away from their workspace, into their meeting venue and engaged with the session.

Getting employees to attend – to actually want to attend – is a responsibility of front-line, middle and senior managers in the employees’ department or division – not the communications department.

Here’s a recipe for Town Halls that satisfy:

  • Plan early. Start planning well in advance of the meeting, at least 4-5 weeks before a quarterly meeting. Identify front-line and middle managers from departments at the location where the meeting will be held. These managers will become a key connection to employees and encourage their attendance at the meeting.


  • Set a goal. Define the purpose for the upcoming meeting and set a participation goal – no less than 90 percent. Craft a personal message from the senior business leader who’s hosting the meeting about the meeting purpose and goal.


  • Check in with leaders. Conduct a briefing session between the senior leader and department managers to introduce the purpose of the upcoming meeting and the participation goal. Explain the meeting’s importance, canvas for key topics to cover at the meeting, and identify a process for fielding, in advance, unfiltered comments and questions from associates to be shared during the actual meeting.


  • Clarify expectations. The senior leader should also meet with his or her direct reports, communicate a similar message with them and task their support for ongoing reinforcement of the importance of the meeting. They should also assist in the canvassing of advance questions to keep the content real and relevant.


  • Build excitement. Senior leaders can use their staff meetings and informal communications practices to promote the meeting’s importance and the relevancy of content.


  • Cultivate topics for Q&A. One week before the meeting, task front-line and middle managers to supply several questions from their employee work groups to a feedback collection tool that has been established for the meeting.

Finally, involve front-line and middle managers in the actual meeting. Have a group of managers from different departments ask several of the advance questions. Apply this shared ownership model to your next Town Hall and watch the value of the meeting soar.


For more insights on 2-way communications, read the latest issue of our newsletter, Spectator-Free Workplace.


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