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Thread: Public meetings to present documents

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Public meetings to present documents

    Okay, folks, I've got a public meeting coming up next week where we are going to be presenting the results of a citizens committee that worked on some policy guidelines. They've spent the past five months putting this thing together and they've finally got a draft- now they're going to be presenting their work. The main point of the meeting is to present the work, get public feedback (which they've gotten all along, though this is the official meeting to do it), and then present everything to the commissioners in a month or so.

    Currently, the draft is on the webpage and is available at the Planning Department. I've gotten the paper to write an article that was in the paper this past sunday and there's another one next week. I've got a public service announcement circulating on public radio. There are flyers up around town. I've sent out emails to a boatload of people and have made a few calls. Getting people to show up won't be the problem, I think. What to do when they come is what I'm nervous about!

    any thoughts on best practices for presenting documents like this? Comp plans or code rewrites or policy documents or whatever? Power point? Setting up things around the room? Just doing a brief presentation and then sitting back and letting the comments flow?

    Any thoughts would be great!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Be flexible

    My best advice for you is to be flexible. Powerpoint can be difficult, because once you get started, you're more likely to continue with the presentation, rather than pursuing issues as they come up to some kind of conclusion.

    I recommend having a list of topical subjects that you definately want the public to comment on, or at least that you want mentioned to them. But then, open it up to whatever they want.

    Have the powerpoint slides ready, but only use the ones for the subjects that come up, either ones you bring up or ones they bring up.

    Good luck
    JOE ILIFF
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    hey there

    go low tech, it's less intimidating

    paper flip charts, the oversized ones that are big post-its are my personal favorite (next to a real old-fashioned blackboard, which is the ultimate) - you can use the top of the sheet for a title and then list out the comments beneath - it helps organize the discussion to hit the points you want to hit -

    it's great to have a meeting you really get to run so put yourself out there and run it yourself!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian
    go low tech, it's less intimidating
    I agree. Last report I prestented, I posted a map on an easel behind me and had enough copies of the report for everyone in room. When someone gives a powerpoint presentation, I find myself watching the slides instead of listening to the presentation.

    A buddy of mine gives all his presentations on storyboards instead of powerpoint. He figures everyone is using powerpoint these days and he wants to stand out. A lot of the older generation relate to low tech better.

  5. #5
    I also agree with low tech. We are presenting our draft comprehensive plan at a public meeting in October. We plan an open house concept with several stations highlighting various aspects of the plan. Lots of paper maps and graphics - no computers. I think an informal approach will make your audience more comfortable and more willing to comment.

  6. #6

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    What you do depends on the level of controversy you anticipate. It also depends on how much the community was invited to participate during the development of the document. If there was good participation upfront, the presentation can be more straightforward. If there wasn't and/or you anticipate some controversy, you will need to design a meeting that goes back to the original reason why the committee was appointed and lets everybody get back into the spirit of things. The most important thing is have the committee members play an active role in the meeting.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Lee has some great observations. I'd say, don't low-tech to be "on par" with the audience, and don't be the sole presenter. You need the steering committee to take ownership of the job, of the process, and of the results.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    All good comments. Thanks.

    Really unsure how this thing is going to turn out. There are going to be some people that are very supportive and interested, and there are going to be some people that rabidly attack us.

    I am very definitely going to be letting the steering committee take charge. We meet today at lunch to set things up.

    thanks for the advice.

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