When a candidate and a message need to be linked to the priorities of an audience, a campaign style Town Hall Meeting is the ideal forum. This Town Hall Meeting format is inclusive of ideas from all, but focuses on just one leader - the candidate.
A Town Hall Meeting's inclusive format invites audience participation, which allows the leaders to frame an important message or goal in the context of the issues faced by audience members. A successful Political Campaign Town Hall Meeting results in each audience member believing, "This candidate understands my issues and concerns."
The format for a Town Hall Meeting includes audience participation and pairs it with a message that is defined by the meeting leader or leaders. Defining the message along with the tone and direction of the discussion up front allows the leader to then reinforce it with responses to audience questions. The key impact of a Town Hall Meeting is derived from a candidate's repetitive articulation of a message with multiple frames of reference. This subtle repetition when presented in contexts that pertain to audience members forms a foundation of connection between the audience and the candidate.
Political Campaign Town Hall Meetings can take two distinct tracks, both of which form a connection between a candidate and the audience.
Two Distinct Town Hall Meeting Formats
- Key Issue that is linked to a Candidate
- Candidate that links to a Key Issue
Candidates that are trying to gain traction and name recognition typically use Town Hall Meetings that highlight a key or critical issue that has a high degree of sensitivity for audience members. By directing a discussion that highlights a key issue, a candidate connects with audience members through their connection to the issue. In turn, the audience connects and bonds with the candidate.
Conversely, a candidate that has wide name recognition or an existing personal connection with audience members can lend this connection to an issue. The candidate can thereby cause the key issue to take on significance with the audience.
The key to creating connections between audience members and candidates or issues is the Town Hall Meeting format itself. Interaction, personal exchanges, and individual contact through questions and answers all form the basis for Town Hall Meetings. Each of these creates connections with the audience. These connections compel audience member's support for a candidate and issues.
A key point to understand with respect to Political/Campaign Town Hall Meetings is that they are unlike Business Town Hall meetings in a critical area. Whereas Business Town Hall Meetings often include unscripted interactions and topics, the reverse is true in a Political/Campaign Town Hall Meeting. Here, the interactions should be well-rehearsed and potential questions and issues must be deeply familiar to the candidate.
An effective Political/Campaign Town Hall Meeting should result in audience members forming a strong connection with a candidate and their message on key issues. Beyond the Town Hall Meeting, when connections are strongly made, audience members act as mini-campaigners further carrying the candidate's message to family and friends. It is these connections that carry the message well beyond the Town Hall Meeting itself.