Public Involvement Techniques
2.B - Selecting An Organizing Feature
for a Meeting
Nearly every meeting focuses on discussion, whether people are
giving opinions, debating issues among themselves, or challenging
an agency by questioning fundamental assumptions. Meetings can be
exploratory (for instance, "design-ins" where participants
draw on maps to illustrate community values or activity patterns)
or consensus-building (including collaborative problem-solving).
Specific techniques for organizing meetings are useful in helping
people think about and discuss issues, how they are personally affected,
and how proposed solutions impact community life. They help make
meetings more creative, stimulating, and engaging. Appropriate,
well-organized meetings also enlighten people about an agency approach
and its openness to community involvement.
Traditionally, meetings often begin with a presentation by one
or several speakers, a slide show, or a simple video, followed by
discussion. Some meetings focus on developing solutions to pending
problems or suggesting alternatives to existing situations, and
their productivity may be enhanced by the use of non-traditional
Organizing features, as described below, are tailored to participants
needs and interests, as well as to the specific goals of a meeting:
- Visioning; and
- Small group techniques.
While the choice of meeting types and frequency lies principally
with an agency, it often helps to work with participants or community
leaders to determine the best times and formats. People feel more
involved if asked for advice and if meetings fit their needs and
their styles of communication.
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