Toolkit: Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting

Town hall meetings are public meetings where members from a community can come together to learn about issues, to share their views and to promote common understanding. Town halls can also be used to convey concerns and solutions to elected representatives.

Tips for organizing a town hall meeting

  • Seek suitable organization(s) to sponsor/ co-sponsor the townhall.
  • Narrow down possible dates to a maximum of 3 or 4. This will make it easier to begin to identify speakers, find a venue, reach out to key organizations and groups, and avoid conflicts with other events.
  • Once the sponsors are confirmed, call the elected representatives and candidates in your area and ask if they would care to participate.
  • Secure your location as quickly as possible. Do not pick spaces too large for the number of people you anticipate. Don’t put out a lot of chairs at the start. Keep adding rows as you need them. That way people will sit at the front and you will avoid rows of empty seats.
  • Choose speakers who will be engaging and will reinforce the campaign’s key message: Everyone benefits from quality child care all families can afford.
  • Make sure at least one community speaker will clearly reinforce the merits of the Affordable Child Care for All plan. Choose your community speakers carefully—they should be knowledgeable, good communicators, and stay on point.
  • Ensure a balance of speakers. Keep in mind that your main priority is an engaging speaker, not a representative from an organization. Also consider the diversity of your speakers (gender, language, race, disability, age).
  • If elected representatives attend, consider the questions you want them to answer. Give them the key questions in advance so they do not feel ambushed.
  • Select a moderator for the meeting to keep the meeting moving along. This person should know how to cut off long speeches and be able to handle uproar if any occurs. Local media personalities are excellent in this role.
  • Don’t try to pack too much in. The fewer presenters, the better. Leave time to hear stories and questions from people in the audience. Keep your event to under 2 hours.
Publicizing your event

Publicizing the town hall meeting is important. Ways to promote the meeting include:

  • Producing posters
  • Sending out e-mails
  • Making phone calls
  • Creating a Facebook event
  • Getting a form of media coverage before the event (morning radio shows, community newspapers)
At your event
  • Make sure you have copies of the Affordable Child Care for All Plan to hand out. Also, make sure you have petitions for people to sign.
  • Prepare an agenda for the event so that the event can remain organized and on time. For example:
    1. Welcome and introduction of event and elected official(s) 5 minutes
    2. Prepared Testimony (4 speakers, 5-8 minutes each) 32 minutes
    3. Audience Testimony: open mic with each person limited to 2 minutes. 40 minutes
    4. Elected officials respond 20 minutes
    5. Closing summary of the meeting and next steps in the campaign 5min
  • Prepare a more detailed itinerary or script for your moderator.
  • On the night of the event, make sure you put up signs directing people to the room.
  • Have a registration table for people to sign in and get information.
  • It is imperative to start and end the meeting on time.
  • Consider including some time for informal networking and discussion over coffee and treats.

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