by: Francis Kong

It sounds like an overworn cliche whenever you say, “Things are changing,” because they are. I heard a foreign speaker say, “Even Change is Changing.” I fully agree with him. Take the case of business meetings where remote work and hybrid models have become the norm. Before the Pandemic, nobody would have imagined zooming or virtual meets would be this pronounced or dominant.


There was a time when I would have to go out of my way to meet clients in their offices or set up our training needs analyses in coffee shops or hotel lobbies. I still have them occasionally, but these face-to-face meetings have become exceptions as most client meetings now occur virtually.


One person lamented, “Zoom meetings are seances with the living.”Brian, are you there? Make a sound if you can hear us. Is anyone with you? Can you hear us?” Virtual meetings can be challenging, I agree, but then… Things are changing.


Here are more changes happening in the workplace. Boomers are now basically out of the workplace. GenX’rs occupy senior positions, but the Millennials are now inching in. While many talk about Gen Z, only a few realize that the oldest GenZ is now 27 years old while the youngest is 12. The youngest Millennial is 28, and the oldest is 43.


Gen Z is different. If HR people and leaders see this, they can take advantage of opportunities to train and lead them correctly.


Done with hype and hungry for hope and honesty, the younger Millennials and the older GenZ long for authenticity, honesty, and transparency. While their more senior counterparts have been easily swayed by fake news, conspiracy theories, and self-aggrandizing social media “experts or gurus” dishing out motherhood statements and cliches, the younger population comprising the workplace do not “buy” their posts and claims easily today. Would it still be any wonder why Merriam Webster Word of the Year for 2023 happens to be “AUTHENCITY?”


The younger segment in our workplace wants a voice and a vote. I advise clients to consider having Gen Z or the younger Millennials a seat on their leadership table.


The older generation prefers to have face-to-face meetings. That I would understand because Boomers like me getting comfortable dealing with Zoomers would be rare and few. However, there is a need to know that Gen Z is mostly connected digitally through apps. And only digital can scale in a way that analog can never do. Companies should take advantage of this.


Even town hall meetings need to level up to resonate with the evolving needs and expectations of the workforce. Employees are no longer just seeking information; they crave connecting, engaging, and inspiring voices. Employee engagement has become a significant concern for CEOs, particularly with the rise of remote work. Leaders can create a more meaningful connection with their teams by sharing compelling stories that bring the company’s mission to life. Stories provide a reason for people to believe, fostering a sense of connection and purpose. Leaders should also make these meetings more efficient by providing critical metrics in advance, allowing more time for interactive discussions.


Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing town hall presentations and engagement. Real-time feedback tools like live polling platforms or AI-driven chat analysis can help gauge employee sentiment. It is time to look into the available uses of these tools.


Many of my clients use Mentimeter or Pigeonhole, polling platforms that allow employees to submit live questions and upvote their preferred ones. This interactive approach has resulted in higher-quality questions and increased employee participation.


Watch out for the coming of more advanced technologies like augmented and virtual reality, which may become popular, but leaders must first master essential tools. Comfort with technology enables leaders to show up authentically, preventing potential distractions.


Town hall meetings should now cater to “Zoom-landers” and “room-landers.”


The innovative use of a catch box microphone can be thrown around the conference room, facilitating interaction between in-person and remote participants. Designating a person in the room to field questions from remote team members ensures their voices are heard, creating a more inclusive environment. It also effectively improves engagement by having a facilitator advocate for remote team members, interrupting when necessary to address their questions. This approach ensures remote employees feel actively engaged and part of the conversation.


One more observation: Town hall meetings among my clients are now more frequent. It is not uncommon for me to be invited to keynote as many as four to five times a year in their hybrid setup, where I address a live audience of a few hundred while thousands zoom in and participate in the discussions.


Yes, things are changing in many business organizations. The question now is: Are things changing in yours?

Francis Kong is an entrepreneur who wears many hats, from ballrooms to boardrooms, from broadcast to print, from publishing to motivational engagements.
Francis Kong

Success Options Inc