The Power of an Agenda-Free Town Hall

“Town Hall” has become a ubiquitous moniker for almost any type of corporate leadership meeting. It’s unfortunate, because it dilutes the power of what a true Town Hall can and should be.

In our previous roles at a Fortune 100 company, we created firm parameters on what constituted a Town Hall versus other kinds of meetings. For us, a Town Hall was an all-employee meeting led by the CEO, where we used a variety of technologies to allow participation across multiple geographies and time zones. But most important, we deemed these events agenda-free. The content was driven by employee questions (some gathered in advance, some asked real-time), with our CEO and other executives answering them in an honest, direct and human way.

The benefits for employees were obvious: access to leadership, the ability to discuss what most interested them, and a feeling that the company and its leadership team cared about those on the front lines. And we were thrilled when we discovered how the format allowed senior execs to deliver the same messages they would have shared in a more traditional, podium- and Powerpoint-driven event. But by using the true Town Hall format, the content came across in a much more natural, interactive way.

And on a personal note, these quarterly events were among the most fun, rewarding aspects of our corporate communications jobs.

Here’s a clip from our archives that showcases the best of what a Town Hall can be: An employee raises an issue, the CEO listens and discusses, and action is taken on the employee’s input. It’s all done with levity (a cultural imperative for this company) – live, in front of our global employee audience. The first two minutes set up the topic – the employee-CEO interaction begins at about the two-minute mark.


To see other examples of our work, go to Mini Case Studies.

Categories: Mini Case Studies

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