The first quarter is typically the time when annual plans, major strategy decisions organization changes etc. are communicated to the employees. In case of growing companies, startups that have matured, this is also the time when Vision, Values, Culture Pillars etc. are cast or recast.
Townhalls have become an effective medium to disseminate these messages to an increasingly young employee base. Usually it is the leader or somebody from the leadership team who is entrusted with the job as it is felt that presentations or videos lack the connect that a leadership member addressing a team can bring in and it also helps in demonstrating the intent of the leadership team to engage their employees in what’s happening.
However, these formats too are getting passive and becoming a one-way conversation where the leader speaks and the employees listen. Townhall sessions need to move to the next level where the leadership is also able get the employees to imbibe the messages, interpret them and express their understanding of them in an interactive environment. Especially for themes like, Announcing annual results, Objectives, Values, Vision, Culture, Positioning changes, Brand Identity and so on.
Here are 5 Ideas to make your next Townhall impactful:
This is an idea shamelessly lifted from an annual conference I was addressing for a world leader in packaging. All the performance matrixes for the year were shown on screen with the key figure missing. The audience were presented with multiple choice answers and had to guess the correct one. The person who gave the answer was also asked why he/she thought the figure should be so. This way the employees were involved in the entire presentation and also added context to the numbers.
Get the HODs on stage in a panel discussion format. The emcee (who could be a CXO) then becomes a moderator and asks questions of the CXOs which leads to the topics that would have otherwise have been part of a boring PPT. This also can involve the audience through Q&A. The extempore format brings a lot of interest and interactivity.
Art and music
Using Art or Music as a medium is especially powerful when communicating new values, vision and the likes. It allows the employees to interpret and express their understanding of how these play out in their “day in life”. It drives home on the organization objective of getting employees to reflect on what demonstrating these behaviours mean? What’s more, the output of such sessions far outlives the Townhall itself in serving as a reminder to all employees.
What if the entire Townhall was addressed by not the senior members but the youngest and the brightest? Companies can create a quiz competition and invite people to participate, the winners of which get to anchor the Townhall sessions. The whole thing playing out on intranet or in-house social platforms itself becomes an engagement tool. It allows for the more engaged and HIPOs to demonstrate their abilities and can become something that is prestigious and coveted by employees as it creates visibility in a way that is different from other performance lead measures.
Giant jigsaw based on theme
Create a large size image of the company’s Vision or Values or Theme for the year on a hard board ( easily possible through your internal communications team) and get it cut into small pieces and numbered. Employee teams have to put together the jigsaw and when they do, the theme reveals itself. That it will take everyone to do their part for the objective to be achieved is nicely established by this event. Not to mention the high level of engagement it will create.
Do write to us with your feedback after you’ve tried any of the above.