Big message, big audience

Employee communications channels

Townhalls

Purpose Typical audience Pros Cons Can you do it yourself? Thinking points
Great for rallying the troops and communicating big/important changes (usually via a senior leader) This suits communications to specific audience groups (business, function, region) It’s interactive with the ‘personal touch’ – along with the option of recording for later or wider use You really need to be there to get the most from it, and it requires quite some organization Yes – but you may need outside help, for example with the sound system Make sure you follow and communicate safety instructions: if it’s a big event, contact DSM Meetings and Events

What is this channel?

This is a mass employee meeting, often in a bigger setting (eg, for all employees in a Business Group or cluster, a function, or at a DSM site). It’s mostly used for sharing important information with employees - usually via a senior leader, and often with the option of asking questions at the end. It can be face-to-face or in a virtual setting. So, if you have a strong message that justifies the time and expense of creating a townhall, this could be a good option. 

What and when is it typically used?

Think about your audience; can you share your messages properly and reach them via this channel? Check out the comparison notes below and weigh your pros versus cons. This will help you decide how to spend your time/ money for the best result.

Benefits

  1. Great for celebration and recognition moments.
  2. Ideal for introducing an important topic or announcing big news to a large audience simultaneously.
  3. Interactive: the ‘personal touch’ is great for team-building and creating engagement.
  4. Can be broadcast and/or recorded for others to view.

Challenges

  1. Participants really need to physically be there (not ideal for a global team or part-time staff).
  2. Requires some detailed planning.
  3. Organizing an event like this can incur costs (eg, a sound system).
  4. Ensuring the content is engaging.

How to use this channel

If you’re organizing a townhall:

  • Define the purpose of your meeting.
  • Create an agenda and identify potential speakers.
  • Brief your speakers properly and set expectations – how long do they have? Are slides ok?
  • Check out the audience size and reserve a suitable location. For a global audience you may need to book a virtual townhall; or a combination of the two.
  • Send out invitations to your audience well in advance.
  • Do a dry-run of your session (test the techniques and timing) a few days before the meeting.
  • On the day, get set-up well in advance – in case of any hiccups!
  • For bigger meetings it’s wise to appoint a timekeeper and overall facilitator for the session.
  • Run your session!
  • Remember to evaluate the meeting (via a survey or email)

Things to keep in mind

  • Familiarize yourself with all the safety instructions for the meeting location – and communicate relevant info to the participants.
  • Don’t try to cram too much into the agenda. Give the audience time to breathe and reflect.
  • Ensure you have the right audiovisual support.
  • It’s nice for colleagues to see each other: can you create space for employee updates – and interaction?
  • Register bigger meetings - and use the DSM Meeting and Events program when appropriate.
  • If you’re covering a major topic or important change, try and stimulate conversation by creating break-out groups.
  • Alternatively, ask people managers to follow-up with their own teams shortly after the townhall.

KPIs for this channel

How will you know ‘what success looks like’? Measuring the response to this channel /tool could give you a better understanding of whether you’ve reached your communication objective. KPIs can be qualitative or quantitative. Here are some ideas:

  • How many participants do you have compared to invitees?
  • Hand out a (paper) survey together with the townhall documentation and ask participants to complete it just 5 minutes before the end of the session.
  • Send a digital evaluation survey to the participants shortly after the meeting, together with any other useful documentation.

Final thoughts

If this a stand-alone initiative, then go ahead! However, if this is part of a wider initiative, you might want to take a step back and look at the broader communications perspective. A good starting point is our 9-step approach to creating your communication plan - which includes an overview of all the internal channels and tools.

Read more

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    PowerPoint is best used as a communications support tool to give your audience the headlines, but really you should be the star of the show.!

  • Management cascade

    These regular meetings offer a great potential channel for reaching an already engaged audience.

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