Whenever I talk to communicators about town halls, one of the common challenges they mention is having to include too many topics.
You know how it goes:
- You start with topics “we always cover:” financial performance, other quarterly results and a review of priorities.
- Then a senior leader suggests adding a segment on a key initiative.
- Another leader chimes in that “we have to include time to talk about X topic.”
- At the 11th hour, your CEO remembers that “we absolutely need to cover Y topic.”
By the time the town hall begins, you’ve got 10 or 12 topics shoehorned into 40 minutes of presentation time. That creates the following problems:
- Laundry list. Since no single topic gets enough time, employees experience content like a bulleted list of facts.
- Rice at a wedding. Since content hasn’t been curated or structured, it seems random and scattered.
- Whack a mole. A topic pops up, the speaker covers it (whack!) and it disappears, then another topic pops up. So the content gets placed into employees’ short-term memory but is never retained.
- Blah blah blah. Because there’s so much content to cover, the town hall is a Fact Fest, not an inspiring event. There’s no emotional connection—just a bunch of stuff.
The result? The town hall isn’t interesting while it’s occurring and isn’t memorable afterwards. Employees recall that they attended the town hall, but they’re left with nothing but the painful fact that they’ll never get that hour back.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you assertively manage content (and control the agenda), you can design town halls that create energy and engagement.
To learn more, download our town hall smart guide.