How to DAO 202: Using Town Halls to Sow the Seeds of Community
Sarah M. Chappell
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_marulli
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Jeff Berezny
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February 1st, 2022

Meetings have a reputation for inefficiency within the traditional organizational structure. Middle managers need to be able to quantify the reason for their existence, and meetings are the easiest way to do that.

This means most meetings do not provide a value that equals the amount of time the attendee has to invest in attending it, which ultimately builds discontent towards the organization.

The town hall in the context of a DAO is the antithesis to this meeting style. Across DAOs we have found that town halls are treated as an experiment. Each program needs to be fluid in order to meet the ever-evolving needs of the community.

This article will walk you through our process for designing meaningful town halls and events for your DAO.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Set Objectives
Part 2: Design the Agenda
Part 3: Outline a Seasonal Program
Part 4: Develop an Event Logistics Checklist
Part 5: Study the Town Halls of Other DAOs for Improvement
Part 6: Setting Yourself Up for Success

Part 1: Set Objectives

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Setting objectives for a DAO town hall is a much more fluid process than the traditional organizational meeting structure.

The tone, style, and subject matter of town halls are ever-changing based on the season and vibe of the community at that particular time.

Each community has a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses related to contributor expertise, reserves of effort, mission clarity, and momentum. The facilitator of the town hall should set objectives accordingly, to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

The following are four examples of good objectives for a DAO town hall:

  1. Inform
  2. Excite
  3. Engage
  4. Support

Inform the community of developments

Transparency is key, so you want to over-communicate all of the actions taken and planned by the DAO that aren’t worthy of a vote, but are still important. These are the daily minutia tasks of operation.

Giving these types of detailed updates and soliciting a perpetual stream of feedback is the only way to truly gauge the complete breadth of perspectives within the community.

Get Community Members Excited To Participate

Host “show and tell” sessions for members so they can convey the passion they have for the things they are working on.

Memes are the fabric of communication within Web3. Communicate things like group mission and identity through memes distributed on Twitter and Discord.

Engage The Community Consistently To Establish A Rhythm

The rhythm of your community is defined by how each person works together. Find out what your community needs to support them as they work toward the season’s objectives.

Try to establish a regular cadence of check-ins just to reinforce the communal vibe. This will create a sense of predictability and connection within the community

Support Community Growth Through Incentivization

Incentivizing community participation comes down to making people feel like they are the core fabric of the community. Hype up new members on Twitter and Discord. Shout out those who are doing exceptionally great work. Most importantly, think about creative ways to compensate community participation that goes beyond the deliverable-based world of traditional organizations.

You are constantly shaping the ethos of the DAO in real-time.

Part 2: Design The Town Hall Agenda And Schedule

Each town hall agenda should be aligned to the overall community mission. It should serve as a nudge toward the North Star while helping achieve your different objectives (detailed in Part 1).

Meetings in digital communities should be composable, accessible asynchronously, and non-mandatory.

Traditional organizations often have meetings that are coupled, meaning you have to attend the entire meeting for it to be useful. Their meetings are mostly synchronous, which means you can be “late” and faced with the social implications that come with it. Finally, their meetings are mandatory, which means your standing within the organization is directly affected by your attendance record.

Meetings in digital organizations are typically fluid, experimental, and focused on creating opportunities. Traditional organizations typically prioritize creating certainty, converging, and serving the performative aspect of the traditional culture of work.

When designing the agenda, it’s useful to think about slower starts, peaks in energy, and ends. In most cases, community members will show at various times, joining from a few minutes before, to 30-40 minutes late in a one-hour slot.

Recording meetings is crucial for asynchronous access. A platform like Zoom is an easy way to do this. It’s useful to create self-contained modular agendas, where a person may attend 1-3 segments without getting “lost”.

Time stamps will allow viewers to take most advantage of the recording. Also, take advantage of smaller social audio chats through Twitter or Discord for people who would like to talk through some agenda items. These can be done both pre and post-meeting.

In addition, using the right content format changes the participation dynamic. It’s important to consider the size of your community and the level of interactivity you want when designing the agenda and choosing software (e.g. Zoom, Discord, Figma, etc.)

Sample Content Agenda (1 Hour)

Pre-Event

  • Announce event on Twitter and Discord
  • Promote event and explain the agenda in the weekly newsletter
  • Invite people to add the event to their calendar
  • Re-announce event on social media 10 minutes prior to start

Event

  • Transition intro visual and music into screenshare of meeting summary
  • Recap the previous week and engage members as they arrive
  • Give specific guild-by-guild updates and facilitate discussion
  • Introduce main topics of discussion, as well as guest-speakers
  • Gauge community pulse through asking for responses every 3-5 minutes
  • Address open governance items
  • Facilitate an Open Q&A
  • Conclude with a group action item for the week

Post-Event

  • Sum up the event in a blog post
  • Do a Twitter thread summary and link to blog post
  • Send out a summary in the Newsletter with link to blog and thread
  • Post a summary on Discord with links to all of the above
  • Host ad-hoc Twitter Spaces or Discord lounges as necessary

The compounding factor of planning a town hall is where you are at in the season of your DAO. Season is the preferred terminology for DAOs because, like the seasons we experience in the physical world, the environment is always shifting.

You need a seasonal program that plots a path towards the North Star, with your town halls serving as “pit stops” on that map.

Part 3: Outline A Seasonal Program

Town hall programming should be aligned to community mission and seasonal thematic focus. For example, if you are in the Pre-Season, then the focus should be on contributor recruitment and community activation. The actual season should be focused on executing the deliverables necessary to achieve the season’s objectives. Finally, the off-season should be focused on analyzing the successes and failures of the previous season and using it to strategize for the next season.

You need to create an environment that inspires the community to take ownership of their own roadmap. This means constantly iterating on opportunities for people to get involved as an active contributor.

In later seasons you might want to focus on community engagement, partnerships or increased community energy levels.

Once the community has a seed group taking ownership of the direction and basic activities, you can then expand the horizon of participation.

The theory is that the enthusiasm and functionality of the seed group will spread into other areas of the community, which is where community engagement comes into play.

After this happens, you can expand beyond your own community and enter partnerships with other DAOs in their ecosystem.

Be sure to keep an eye on the ebb and flow of momentum throughout these stages of growth. It is vital to have a good system for identifying and mitigating discontent before it impacts the direction of the organization.

Sample Program Outline

Community ABC is kicking off its first season, and with an initial contributor base, the team is focused on increasing awareness of their community across the DAO ecosystem.

Season 1 Thematic Goal: Ecosystem Awareness And Community Growth

  • Week 1: Season 1 Roadmap and Special Guest (Members Only)
  • Week 2: Big Product Drop and Roadmap (Public)
  • Week 3: Guild Showcase and DAO Community Awards (Members Only)
  • Week 4: Panel Conversation and Q&A (Culture Development) (Public)
  • Week 5: Special Event (NFTs for Memberships) (Members Only)
  • Week 6: Big Product Drop and Updated Roadmap (Public)
  • Week 7: Mid-Season Update: Guild Project Grant Awards (Members Only)
  • Week 8: Special Guest Interview and Member “Change-my-Life” Story (Public)
  • Week 9: Special Event (Secret IRL Event Recap) (Members Only)
  • Week 10: Season End Celebration: Community Contributor MVP Awards (Public)

Part 4: Develop A Logistics Checklist

The logistics of planning a DAO town hall are similar to planning an interactive webinar, but with a higher level of ambiguity. It could be that only 5 people show up this week, but 50 appear next week.

Attendance is almost always optional, so your logistics need to be prepared for a wider range of scenarios.

Here is a quick list of logistical items to consider prior to hosting a town hall.

Logistics Checklist

  • Time (e.g. which time-zone coverage will the town hall have?)
  • Cadence (Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly)
  • Type (Community Building, Ops Documentation, Entertainment, Showcase, other/mixed)
  • Attendee Scope (Members only, open to everyone, combination)
  • Voice Channel (Discord Stage, Voice Channel, Zoom Call, Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse)
  • Visual Sharing (Discord Screen Share, Zoom, Figma Jam)
  • Chatting Channel (Discord Text Channel, Zoom Chat, Figma Chat)
  • Content Design (Knowledge Management Software (e.g. Clarity, Roam, Docs) vs. Slide Presentation vs. None)
  • Facilitators (1 person, team, contributors, special guests)
  • Easter-eggs / Interaction Design (Yes / No)
  • Intro / Outro Music (Yes / No)
  • Recording process (e.g. upload to YouTube or community file)

Sample Logistics

  • Time: 12pm EST / 9am PST / 6pm UTC (Covers Americas and Europe, not APAC)
  • Cadence: Weekly
  • Type: Community Engagement
  • Attendee Scope: Members Only
  • Voice Channel: Discord Voice Channel
  • Visual Sharing: Figma Jam Board
  • Chatting Channel: Discord Text
  • Content Design: Figma Jam Board
  • Facilitators: Alice to lead, supported by Community Managers
  • Easter-eggs / Interaction Design: Yes, NFT surprise drop
  • Intro / Outro Music: Yes, Bob to lead

Sample Announcement

✨Hello @Everyone✨

Town Hall Schedule... 👀

--> Town Hall (Americas) will be Thursdays at 10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm UTC

Location: Zoom (stand-by for link tomorrow!)

--> The Town Hall (APAC) will be  on Tuesdays at 8am UTC

Location: Discord #🗣-public-forum

Town Hall 3 Agenda... 👀

This week we will be sharing the mission statement. In addition, we’ll be doing a quick member registration so we can move to send out a weekly digest if you’re interested.

PLUS: A surprise... New Product Functionality?

Share your details with us... 👀

Please fill in this form when you have a chance, as we will experiment with sending our first weekly summary on Tuesday: [REGISTRATION FORM]

Add this shared calendar to yours! (Go to Calendar Settings, Add Calendar, via URL, paste this link) [LINK]

Part 5: Study The Town Halls of Other DAOs For Improvement

The two best ways to learn in the DAO ecosystem are by observing and doing. The best way to get a feel for how you want to run a town hall is to join other DAOs who do theirs on a public platform.

Twitter Spaces are a great way to find public town halls to pop into. Just search “DAO town hall” in the spaces tab and you are bound to find one happening within the next week or so. Several popular DAOs, like rabbithole.gg and ENS for example, hold a regular public town hall.

Pay attention to how the hosts keep the conversation on track and facilitate community participation.

The best way to learn though is to join a DAO yourself. The town halls that happen on the private Discord are going to be a little different than the ones anyone can just pop into on Twitter. For example, private town halls often include more operational details while public-facing town halls on Twitter often serve as channels for mission advocacy, celebrations, and knowledge sharing.

Part 6: Setting Yourself Up For Success

Most commonly, attendance at town halls follows a similar pattern to engagement in community governance. That is, engagement is low due to competing priorities (family, work, social events). Watch out for key details to avoid confusion and make sure people can attend easily.

The little things make a big difference here. Choosing the right time zone, creating a central link for everyone to use in promotion, and establishing a rhythm of consistency are crucial.

We can learn a lot from religious organizations on this front. The church/temple/mosque is the central meeting place and curates a specific ambiance tied to the larger community. Services are typically on the same days of the week, at the same time and frequency week-to-week.

Success in community events is not a straight line. So plan to gather feedback constantly.

Rituals and attendance increase with consistency. If you keep the same time, work together, and present together, then audience forms, communities blossom, and action scales. Keep that momentum going.

It’s like a book club: you want to be predictable in your consistency, but each session should be uniquely meaningful and inspiring.

Sample Risks and Issues

  • Picking accessible times to your community (e.g. don’t host the event on EST AM if the majority of your community is PST or APAC based)
  • Make sure events are widely publicized
  • Make the event at the same time and avoid rescheduling, which introduces ambiguity
  • Make sure the event is accessible and easy to join on-the-go

Sample Retrospective Template

Here's an example of how you might gather regular feedback from the community on the effectiveness of town halls.

Overview: [Explain the project, the ask, the requirements, the high-level result]

What we could do better: [Add comments]

What went well: [Add comments]

What to do better next time: [Add comments]

Now it’s your turn. Take these tools and develop your own engaging town halls to support your DAOs and communities. Thank you for reading, and reach out with any questions.

Authors

@rafathebuilder
@BrettPucino
@jeffbzy (feedback)
@nichanank (comments)
@albiverse (comments)
@VeronicaSaron (comments)

Header image by @marulli

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