Attending Alison Davis’ town hall workshop this week (have you read her recent blog posts on the topic: Insights and Inc.?), made me think about the data communicators collect but don’t use. Town halls are a perfect example.

Collecting questions before or during a town hall is a strategy often used to encourage participation during the Q&A period. But it’s usually impossible to answer every question and they end up in the trash when the meeting is done.

Stop! Go back to the trash and save those questions. They’re valuable data.

The first step is to analyze, just as you would with responses to an open-ended question in a survey: categorize them and look for key themes. Then leverage the results. For example:

  • Compare these town halls questions with other questions you collect, such as on the intranet (Do you see similar themes? Is communication not breaking through on a topic?)
  • Address the themes across your communication channels: an article series, a video by the CEO, speaking points for leaders to use at their next team meetings
  • Use the themes to inspire your next town hall: dive deep into one topic or conduct break-outs to explore several themes
  • Influence key stakeholders to change or develop a communication plan, “Employees still have questions about X”
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