What You Need to Know About Hosting a Tele-Town Hall

Town halls remain some of the most powerful tools for getting people talking about important issues, driving political engagement, and showcasing where your candidate stands on key topics. However, like many aspects of the American political process, town halls have received a virtual facelift in recent years.

Known as tele-town halls, these virtual meetings allow elected officials, candidates, and organizations to engage with large audiences in real-time, regardless of geographic location. Follow this guide to learn how you can use these digital events to shed geographical limitations and connect with constituents. 

What’s a Tele-Town Hall?

A tele-town hall is a live, interactive event that allows your candidate to engage with participants via telephone or digital video platforms. During a tele-town hall, participants join via an online platform to listen to speakers, ask questions, and participate in polls or surveys. Think of a huge, well-organized Zoom meeting or Facebook livestream. 

Attending tele-town halls is much easier for many constituents, as they don’t have to travel, book accommodations, or make any other major plans. They can simply log into the meeting, set aside a couple of hours, and learn about relevant issues or political candidates. 

Benefits of Tele-Town Halls

Integrating digital town halls into your political strategy can provide significant advantages. Just some of these include:

Increased Approval 

Participating in a tele-town hall can significantly enhance a candidate or incumbent’s approval ratings. According to a study on virtual town halls conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation, congressional members saw their approval ratings among attendees increase from +29 to +47

Expanded Reach

Tele-town halls enable your organization to reach a large and diverse audience, including individuals who may be unable to attend in-person events due to mobility limitations, scheduling conflicts, or distance. Expanding your footprint can be especially important in tight races or when challenging a well-liked incumbent. 

Real-Time Interaction

Much like traditional town hall meetings, tele-town halls allow participants to interact with speakers in real-time. Participants can ask questions, share feedback, and engage in dialogue with speakers, creating a dynamic and engaging experience. 

Scalability 

In-person meetings face space limitations, which can decrease your total reach and impact. Transitioning to digital town halls promotes better scalability, allowing you to accommodate thousands of participants simultaneously. 

This scalability in turn makes these events ideal for reaching large groups of voters, including entire districts. Tele-town halls simply lack the logistical challenges associated with in-person events. 

Best Practices

Are you ready to organize your own tele-town hall? If so, you’ll need to:

Plan Ahead

Just because a tele-town hall is a virtual event doesn’t mean you can throw one together on a moment’s notice. You must start planning well in advance to ensure a smooth and successful gathering. Define your objectives, identify key speakers or panelists, and develop a detailed agenda that outlines the flow of the event. 

Choose a Flexible Platform

Select a reliable and user-friendly platform for hosting your tele-town hall. Consider factors such as ease of use, compatibility with different devices, and features such as Q&A functionality, polling, and audience engagement tools. 

However, it’s important not to get too sophisticated. Remember, you want to make it easy for everyday voters to log on and participate. In many cases, simpler is better. 

Promote the Event

Now it’s time to generate buzz about your tele-town hall. Advertise the gathering on social media, run paid ads, and use word of mouth to maximize attendance. As the event gets closer, ramp up your promotion efforts. 

Keep Everyone Engaged

Once the event gets underway, use creative strategies to keep participants engaged. Consider incorporating interactive elements such as: 

  • Polls 
  • Surveys 
  • Q&A sessions 

In general, it is important that you encourage participants to ask questions, share their perspectives, and actively participate in the discussion. 

Have Staff on Hand to Address Technical Challenges

No matter how thorough you are during planning, there’s a chance that you will encounter a few bumps in the road. With that in mind, make sure you’ve got extra support and IT staff on hand to address any technical challenges that arise. 

Most participants will endure a brief interruption with patience. However, prolonged downtime can crush attendance and engagement rates. 

Tips to Make Your Event a Hit

It’s helpful to explore a few extra tips to make your tele-town hall impactful. First, make sure you choose the right time for your event. Take into account variables like time zones, work schedules, and other commitments.

Additionally, you should create a diverse lineup of speakers to ensure a well-rounded discussion. Consider inviting subject matter experts, community leaders, and representatives from different groups to participate. 

Create opportunities for active participation and engagement throughout your tele-town hall. Encourage attendees to ask questions, share experiences, and add value to the discussion. 

Nonetheless, be respectful of participants’ and attendees’ time. While it’s acceptable to hold a multi-hour event, you also need to stick to the agenda. Manage your schedule effectively and strategically transition to new topics or guests to keep the conversation flowing. 

Lastly, solicit feedback from participants to find out what went well and what you can do better in the future. Use surveys, polls, or follow-up emails to gather feedback on the content, format, and overall experience of your tele-town hall. 

Inform Your Planning Process With Aristotle

Orchestrating a tele-town hall requires careful planning and lots of information about your target audience. Aristotle, a leader in political data, can provide you with actionable insights to inform your planning processes and help you make your event impactful. Contact our team to learn more about our consulting, technology, and data services.


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