Virtual town hall meetings provide a good communication tool for organizations that have employees scattered in different geographical locations. It allows the CEO or other senior executives to leverage the internet to bring all employees together when they need to deliver important company news and updates. The good thing is that they are easy to plan and they provide a cheaper way to hold meetings without costs such as traveling.
However, driving engagement when participants are not in the same room can be challenging. It can be hard to capture the attention of everyone when you can’t tell what they are doing from their end. In addition, fatigue and other stresses can easily make employees disconnect from the meeting.
Nevertheless, with well-thought strategies, maintaining engagement can be done. It becomes a different story altogether, however, when the workforce comprises people who speak different languages.
So, how can you ensure everyone stays connected to the meeting where you have to use remote interpreting?
10 Ideas to Make Your Virtual Town Hall Meetings Engaging
Here are ten methods to infuse excitement and lasting impact into your sessions for participants to engage:
- Interactive Polls & Surveys
Incorporating interactive polls and surveys into your virtual town hall meetings can provide real-time insights into participants’ opinions and preferences. Use polling software to ask questions related to key topics, gather feedback on proposed initiatives, or gauge public sentiment. Display the results instantly to foster discussions and allow participants to see how their views compare with others.
- Gamified Q&A Sessions
Transform the Q&A portion of your town hall meetings into an engaging game. Encourage participants to submit questions and then reward points or small prizes for thoughtful, insightful, or creative queries. This approach incentivizes attendees to think critically and participate actively, turning the Q&A into an interactive and enjoyable experience.
- Virtual Reality (VR) Tours
Embrace cutting-edge technology by offering virtual reality tours of significant town developments or landmarks. Through VR, participants can explore new projects, historical sites, or proposed changes as if they were physically present. This immersive experience adds a dynamic element to your town hall meetings and enhances attendees’ understanding and engagement.
- Guest Speakers & Experts
Inviting guest speakers or subject matter experts to share their insights during your virtual town hall meetings can add depth and credibility to your discussions. These experts can offer valuable perspectives, answer questions, and provide data-driven information on relevant topics, capturing participants’ interest and fostering informed conversations.
- Interactive Workshops
Breakout into smaller groups for interactive workshops focused on specific issues or projects. Participants collaborate to brainstorm solutions, share ideas, and work together to tackle challenges. Afterward, each group presents its findings to a larger audience, promoting active participation, teamwork, and a sense of ownership over community initiatives.
- Storytelling Sessions
Incorporate storytelling into your meetings to create a more personal and relatable connection with community members. Encourage participants to share their personal experiences, anecdotes, or testimonials related to town developments or issues. This human touch can build empathy and understanding among participants, fostering a stronger sense of community.
- Live Demonstrations
Showcase new technologies, projects, or initiatives with live demonstrations during your virtual town hall meetings. Whether it’s unveiling a mobile app, demonstrating an eco-friendly solution, or showcasing a revitalized public space, live visuals can captivate participants and provide a tangible understanding of the town’s progress and innovation.
- Themed Meetings
Inject variety into your town hall meetings by introducing themed sessions. Each meeting could focus on a specific theme, such as “Sustainability Showcase” or “Youth Empowerment.” Tailor the agenda, discussions, and guest speakers to align with the chosen theme, keeping participants engaged by exploring diverse topics over time.
- Open Mic Sessions
Dedicate a portion of your virtual town hall meetings to an open mic session, allowing residents to voice their opinions, concerns, or talents. Participants can share ideas, perform music or poetry, or express their thoughts on community matters. This inclusion of diverse voices fosters a sense of belonging and encourages active involvement.
- Virtual Networking Spaces
Create virtual networking lounges or breakout rooms where participants can socialize, connect, and engage with each other before and after the main meeting. These informal spaces allow attendees to interact on a more personal level, share experiences, and build relationships, contributing to a sense of community cohesion beyond the formal meeting structure.
Planning a Virtual Town Hall Meeting
Whether you’re a community leader, organization head, or public representative, the task of orchestrating a virtual town hall requires meticulous planning and a strategic approach. Here’s how you make it easier.
1. Hire the right interpreters
One of the reasons that attendees can disengage from a virtual town hall meeting is if they are having a hard time following the procedure. When they don’t understand the message, they are more likely to wander off and disconnect from the rest.
Hiring online meeting interpreting services is the first step to ensuring that your employees’ language needs are taken care of. However, you need to note that employees expect more than just hearing the speech in their language. They expect remote interpreters who understand their culture in depth so that they can deliver the message without upsetting nuances. They also expect industry and subject matter experts who can relay the message without hiccups and use the right terminologies.
To ensure that your employees follow the meeting to the last minute, pay attention to the interpreters that you hire for simultaneous interpreting. They should be able to do the interpreting in a way that it is easy for everyone to follow what is happening.
2. Rethink the videoconferencing platform
There are many video conferencing platforms out there. When choosing a platform to use, you must think of features that can help you drive engagement throughout your multilingual town hall meeting.
One of the things that make people stay engaged is having interactive sessions during the meeting. You can have the meeting segmented into several segments such as questions and answers, conducting polls, and the like. Using live chats is also another great way to have everyone participate in the proceedings. In addition, screen sharing and sharing files are other features that keep participants alert and active.
When choosing a platform to use, incline more on one that can provide such features. However, everyone needs to enjoy these features in a language that they can understand. In this case, the most important feature to have is the online interpretation integration feature. The platform that you choose should be able to allow remote interpreting, particularly simultaneous interpreting for the sake of those people who speak a different language.
3. Make attendees feel valued
When people feel valued, it becomes easy for them to be interested in what the meeting has to deliver. One of the best ways to make your employees feel valued is by having them tell you what they want about the meeting. For instance, you can conduct surveys before the meeting to ask for feedback on things such as the sessions that your employees prefer to see during the meeting.
When it comes to employees who speak a different language, make sure that you ask them what their preferred language choice is. This can help you in planning the number of remote interpreters that you will need for the virtual town hall meeting. Additionally, you will be able to provide specific language needs, which is the key to keeping multilingual employees engaged. Most importantly, your employees will feel valued that you would think of their specific needs and will be more compelled to stay engaged.
4. Foster internal social conversations before the meeting
Building up excitement about the meeting in the days leading to the meeting is a good way to get everyone to anticipate what the meeting has to offer. You can do this by starting conversations on internal social platforms. People can discuss topics not related to the meeting or even discuss topics of interest that they hope to hear during the meeting.
However, when doing this, it is important to remember inclusivity where you have multilingual audiences. On top of hiring online meeting interpretation services, consider hiring translation services to ensure that everyone can converse in a language that they understand. You can also have small video discussions with your employees before the big day. Ensure that you engage the services of remote interpreters to provide online interpretation for these videos.
5. Use a multilingual promotion campaign
When you are telling your employees about an upcoming town hall meeting, it is good to tailor-make the message to the language that your employees speak. For instance, you can segment the contacts by language.
This can help you deliver meeting details in different languages. Your employees are highly likely to appreciate receiving details of the meeting in their language. A good way to convey the message engagingly is by using videos. The fact that most people prefer video to written content is likely to get them excited about the meeting. Remember to work with remote interpreting services to have the videos interpreted in different languages.
6. Combine voice with visual presentations
Using audio simulation only can easily get boring and cause people to disconnect from the meeting. To keep your employees engaged throughout the meeting, it is good to use visual representations in the message delivery. Using illustrations here and there not only captures the attention of the participants but also helps them retain the message better. So, be sure to prepare visual content for your town hall meeting.
Your interpreters must be able to follow and understand these visual representations so that they can do a good job interpreting them. Ensure that you provide the materials to them before the meeting so that they can prepare well in advance.
Firing up engagement where remote interpretation is involved can be a hard nut to crack. But, that is not to say that it can’t be done. Start by hiring the right interpreters and choosing the right video conferencing platform.
In addition, use multilingual material when inviting your employees and start conversations that get them excited. Using visuals and making the employees feel valued also goes a long way in driving engagement.