People driving


Your employee town hall meeting is going well. Your leader has done a good job presenting. And now the leader pauses to ask, "Any questions?"

SCREECH…the momentum stops. The room is silent. You start to sweat. After what seems like an eternity, someone finally raises his hand. And then other people gingerly participate. But almost as soon as the Q&A began, it's over. You wonder: "Can't I do something to make a Q&A session more dynamic?"

Yes, you can. The secret is to understand the roadblocks, then take steps to break through those obstacles:

  Barrier What you can do
Traffic light icon
Tapping the brakes
Employees don't want to look stupid by asking a "dumb question."
Give the green light
Rather than asking questions that expose their lack of knowledge, invite employees to share information that demonstrates their knowledge. For example, "How will this change affect our customers?"
Road block icon
No way out
What do 3 presenters, 7 topic areas, 27 charts and 55 PowerPoint slides add up to? In a word, overload. Employees can't absorb the content well enough to participate.
Adjust the flow
Focus on one or two key topics of critical importance, then explore the subject in depth.
Odometer icon
Moving too fast
If you only leave a few minutes for questions, employees will watch the clock rather than raise their hands.
Take your time
Set aside at least 20 minutes for Q&A—30 is even better, 40 is ideal. Make it clear you intend to use all the time you have, and use the above techniques to take advantage of the time.
Key icon
No ignition
Even confident employees find it hard to speak in front of a large group.
Get in the same lane
Make it easier for employees to participate by breaking them out into smaller groups. Give each group an issue to address or a problem to solve. Then have them report back to the room.