Overview – Open forums

Open forums are question-and-answer sessions conducted at employee gatherings for the purpose of open discussion with leaders on general organisational issues or specific topics. Open forums can be held as stand-alone events, or incorporated into a conference, leaders forum, roadshow or town hall meeting.

Open forums are a valuable communication tactic because they enable employees to get direct answers regarding their concerns about the topic being discussed. In developing the key messages for a major change program or organisational initiative, it can be difficult to anticipate all the concerns that employees may have. Open forums enable employees to get their concerns addressed directly in a face-to-face environment. Open forums also enable leaders to see the organisation through employees’ eyes.

Grey TickThis tactic is useful for:

 

 Addressing issues of importance to employees.
 Finding out what’s on employees’ minds.
 Demonstrating two-way communication.

cloudyThings to consider:

 

Establish whether the open forum will be held as a stand-alone event or as part of a town hall meeting or conference.
Determine who will answer employees’ questions.
Source some questions from your audience beforehand to kick-start the session. Suggested ways of doing this include:
– The intranet or suggestion boxes.
– Feedback mechanisms in other tactics, such as newsletters.
– A large board situated adjacent to the door of the open forum venue for posting questions written on sticky notes.
Appoint an emcee to maintain momentum, keep track of time, invite those with raised hands to ask their questions and keep speakers to the point.
Provide hand-held mics so employees posing the questions can be heard.
Compile a list of the questions and answers and post them on the Frequently Asked Questions section of the intranet.

Tone BulbHelpful tip:

 

Participants at large employee gatherings are often reluctant to ask questions for a variety of reasons. As a result, there can be a deafening silence when questions are invited from the audience.
This can be overcome by sourcing questions beforehand. Ways to do this are listed in the ‘Things to consider’ section on this page.
Category: Face to Face