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Ten Tips for Telephone Town Hall Success

Marty Stone, of Stones’ Phones, a top US political strategy firm whom we have worked closely with, has posted a top 10 list on how to make the most of Telephone Town Halls.

Telephone Town Halls are well established in the US as an effective tool for supporter engagement, and as a great large-scale forum for getting people excited about a political campaign. As this innovative service grows in popularity north of the border, more and more Canadian politicians and non-profits are beginning to realize the potential of Telephone Town Halls to go beyond political issues and engage donors on a wide variety of issues.

Whether you’ve already run several Telephone Town Halls or are just trying to learn more about them, we think you’ll find this sound advice from Marty useful for maximizing the impact of your next Telephone Town Hall:


1. Know when to hold and when to fold – It’s human nature. People mostly remember the beginning and end of an event. Don’t let the Town Hall drag on and reduce the effectiveness.

2. Avoid the “tune out” – One voice heard over a long period of time is boring. And your participants may tune out – so shake it up. Bring your constituents in on the conversation. Be ready with your own multiple speakers – possibly your candidate and a moderator. No one person should talk for more than five minutes at a time.

3. Add more screeners – It’s worth the effort to find more people to screen calls. More screeners allow you to get more questions in the queue faster. Net result? Better conversations, more great questions answered – and more valuable data captured, like email addresses, for future interaction.

4. All politics is local – and screeners, too – This Town Hall is in your town, so you want the screeners to know where Broad Street is and to understand the local flavor.

5. Make connections – Seniors will want to know when their social security check is coming. Others on the call may have specific questions for their member of congress. Follow up after the call. Help them get the help they need. The personal effort will pay dividends.

6. Poll the audience – In a focus group, you reach a few dozen folks. In a Telephone Town Hall, you can reach thousands – and up. Use it to your advantage. Poll the participants. With the extensive data you collect, you have pinpoint information about what matters most to each participant.

7. Everyone in the same room – If possible, have everyone speaking in the same room. It makes the entire event go more smoothly. People can pick up on body language and feed off each other. When it’s practical to be in one room, you’ll appreciate the edge it gives to your event.

8. Caller ID number matters – You get two calls at home: one from a local number and one from an 800 number that looks like a telemarketer. Which will you pick up? When possible, get a local caller ID number and watch your participation numbers go up.

9. Follow up – After your Telephone Town Hall, you will have an abundance of valuable data. Use this treasure trove of information. Follow up by thanking people for participating, ask active participants to host a house party, ask for volunteers and donations. Make the most of your new connections.

10. Call. Learn. Repeat – Don’t let this Telephone Town Hall be a one time experience. People enjoy these events. They want more. It’s a win-win situation.

Re-posted from the Stones’ Phones website, with permission.

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