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Beezy feature focus: Town halls

4/26/15 1:27 PM

The era of enterprise social systems is truly upon us. Gone are the days of static or formal Intranets as a companies only means of communicating and working with their employees. Microsoft are pushing ahead with elements of Cloud and Social technology, but as you will have seen from our previous posts we have some very exciting technology and ideas that we think can help users in new and innovative ways.

We have spent considerable effort over the last few years designing tools that positively disrupt the workplace, introducing new social elements that help people to work smarter.  One feature of our core product is called ‘Town Halls’, which we’d like to focus on in this post.

What is a Town Hall?

The first question we probably need to address is “What is a Town Hall?”  Well, they are an American term given to a relaxed and open forum, meeting or event at a local government building (like a physical Town Hall building). They have no set format but tend to allow all people present to offer a voice, an opinion or to ask a question of an influential person, such as a political party candidate or members of local government.

If we shift this format to the electronic floor space, it’s not hard to see how this could be advantageous for a corporation. Senior management could answer any number of questions from colleagues in an open, transparent format, saving the time and energy of having to send this information out frequently. That is why we built such a feature into Beezy.

Effective moderation

We mentioned earlier that there typically isn’t a set format for a town hall. Electronically, using a basic (SharePoint) forum for a town hall can cause a number of problems. Many forum tools just aren't designed to encourage the kind of conversations we want to encourage. Using Beezy, you are provided the opportunity to assign other colleagues to the role of moderators. These moderating staff can help to guide and structure the town hall by keeping an eye on questions and topics already addressed as well as keeping an eye on the questions that are generating the most activity (in terms of both follows and responses).

A streamlined process

So, having mentioned that colleagues can be appointed as moderators to help guide the flow of a town hall, how else can Beezy assist with the ebb and flow of such events? Quite simply, we can help moderators to be proactive instead of reactive. Considering the relatively short time span typically afforded to a town hall (2 hour session per business quarter for example), you can very easily see hundreds of questions being posed to those leading the event.

The facility we introduce includes a streamlined process where raised questions are only open for commentary and dialogue after they have been answered; which helps to reduce the noise and repetition around them. We think this feature really helps drive the right sort of interactions.

Q&A Format

Moving on from the ability to moderate and to guide the flow of a town hall, it may be helpful to ask what the overall format will be like. We advocate a simple question and answer (Q&A) approach, which allows employees to ask questions to any of the designated speakers. Not only can questions be posed, they can be combined with various multimedia attachments too.  Subsequently, colleagues can then follow the questions or topic matters that interest them the most and choose to receive alerts as these latterly receive answers or comments.

Town Hall Metrics & Town Hall extensibility

Technology has been an enabler for many industries and for various purposes, affording the ability for both innovation and change. In taking a town hall to a more digital format, we offer the ability to change the format of the event as needs dictate. From being able to change the length of the event itself to allowing questions to be posted pre and in event, and setting addressed questions to read-only. There are several configurations available, making Beezy Town Halls a really flexible solution.

We also offer both live statistics and post event statistics. These will help both speakers and their moderators to see which questions are the most well received and as such will enable them to prioritise which topics and questions are responded to.

A powerful medium

We hope that we’ve provided a good illustration of how Beezy can really improve and build on a traditional means of communication. There are a host of other features in Beezy, some of which we will address in later posts. If you used the Town Hall feature, or think it could be useful in your company, please leave a comment below.

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