Even while it’s critical to exercise social seclusion and maintain personal safety amid the COVID-19 health crisis, Virtual has developed as a convenient and economical alternative to host online meetings. Here are some pointers for setting up a productive Virtual town hall gathering.
Go with your gut. Is your problem critical enough to merit a town hall? If you feel that it is crucial enough to warrant a town hall, adhere to these guidelines.
Choose a time. Make sure the people you want to attend can simply log on by choosing the date and time with care. To avoid holidays, big athletic events, back-to-school nights, etc., check your calendar. Choose the most convenient time for your target audience(s) to attend. Most people tend to do best at six or seven in the evening. Planning for an hour is an excellent idea, keeping in mind that participants will inevitably arrive late and Q&A sessions can drag on for 10–20 minutes.
Decide how many guests you wish to invite. Will it be a success if 20 people show up, or will 50 or 100 people be required to make this event worthwhile? Aim to sign up twice as many people as you expect will attend the event, keeping in mind that around half of those who sign up will attend.
Send out many invitations to everyone you can think of. Ascertain that your organization has a strong email list of potential invitees. If not, start brainstorming early to identify other groups, then get in touch with them to request assistance in sharing the invitation and disseminating the news. Share your event on social media and add it to local bulletin boards and online calendars. You can advertise on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in addition to doing so by creating a Facebook event and inviting any other groups that have shown an interest in serving as co-hosts. Be sure to frequently post about the event on social media and via email!
Verify that your virtual account is in good standing. Do you have a virtual account that can accommodate the expected number of participants and allows you to hold meetings that go longer than the free account’s 40-minute limit? If not, seek out someone who does or upgrades your account for the money.
Webinar or Virtual call? Choose whether you want to set up your town hall as a conventional virtual call where anybody can see everyone and speak, or as a webinar where only the presenters who have been assigned can speak.
Plan your tech support strategy. Find someone who truly understands Virtual, get them to attend the Virtual in case of technical issues, and have them agree to do a practice run with you and the speakers a few days in advance.
Use Virtual to schedule the town hall. It is a good idea to require registration through Virtual because you will be able to collect the email addresses of everyone who registers to attend, which will help you expand your list for subsequent campaigns. When scheduling your speakers if you opt for the webinar format, be sure to provide them with their presenter log-ins.
Choose a catchy name for the town hall meeting. If at all possible, keep it brief and steer clear of anything dull or very process-specific.
Set your speakers in order. No more than three, please. Choose those that are knowledgeable about your topic and have a strong public speaking ability. Invite them three weeks in advance and a few days before the town hall and confirm that they can attend both the town hall and the practice run. Send them a calendar invite for the town hall and include the Virtual log-in details; double-check that they have accepted both. Check-in with them repeatedly to make sure they can still participate.
Get speaker biographies. By no later than one week before the town hall, request that your speakers share brief biographies with you.
Select a competent moderator. A local reporter, volunteer with the League of Women Voters, instructor, or debate coach are some excellent choices. Invite them three weeks in advance and a few days before the town hall and confirm that they can attend both the town hall and the practice run. Send them a calendar invite for the town hall and include the Virtual log-in details; double-check that they have accepted both. Verify their ability to participate multiple times afterward.
One to three days before the town hall, schedule a practice session. Make sure to invite your presenters, your moderator, your tech support person, and others to the Virtual meeting by email and calendar. Make sure everyone has the details and has accepted your invitation by following up.
Set up the moderator. Give the moderator a copy of each speaker’s brief bio and make sure they’ve got it.
Schedule upcoming engagements. Discuss two timely steps with other employees at your company to prepare for the town hall meeting.
Draw a plan. Before the practice run, draught a “run of show” for the town hall and provide it to your moderator and speakers. A run of a show is a comprehensive schedule that outlines every minute of the Virtual conference.
Press or not to press? Choose whether or not to invite the media. If you do, write a news advisory (click here for an example you may edit), then distribute it three days beforehand. Make a call to any reporters you know will be there. One hour before the Virtual town hall’s start time, write and send a news release to reporters.
Recap and subsequent actions. Meet with your group the next day to discuss the event’s successes and failures and to make any necessary adjustments for future town halls. Every time you do it, you’ll pick up new ideas for running a successful online event.
These are the few tips which help you to host a virtual town hall meeting.