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Thread: Consultation - best / worst practices for public meetings

  1. #1
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    Consultation - best / worst practices for public meetings

    Hi all,
    Just wondering if folks would like to share thoughts on what are some of the best and worst methods for running public consultation events. For instance, I've been to some workshops where participants were forbidden from holding the microphone when asking questions / making comments - a staff person held if for them, like a reporter giving an interview. To me, this seems to go against the spirit of asking the public to participate in a planning process as it implies that they're aren't to be trusted to hold a mic on their own, in case their comments are too long winded, incendiary, etc.

    What would you say if this happened at a public meeting you attended? What would your reaction be?

    cheers,
    urbanscrawl

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urbanscrawl View post
    Hi all,
    Just wondering if folks would like to share thoughts on what are some of the best and worst methods for running public consultation events. For instance, I've been to some workshops where participants were forbidden from holding the microphone when asking questions / making comments - a staff person held if for them, like a reporter giving an interview. To me, this seems to go against the spirit of asking the public to participate in a planning process as it implies that they're aren't to be trusted to hold a mic on their own, in case their comments are too long winded, incendiary, etc.

    What would you say if this happened at a public meeting you attended? What would your reaction be?

    cheers,
    urbanscrawl
    The methods of running a public meeting depend on many factors and what outcomes you expect to get. IMO, you let people pass a mic on, the more rockus and destructive the comments will be, when compared to a more formal, podium or even "hold the mic for them". Again, it is a form of "crowd control" and essentially giving a voice to "all" versus the rabid few.

    I would much rather have a controlled public input session where people got to speak and let their voices be herd, albeit through a mic i held, versus a meeting held hostage by the loud few whom will kick and scream to get their way.

    Edit: I have done this in the past, and have no issues with it.
    Last edited by Raf; 03 Dec 2012 at 8:05 PM.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  3. #3
    I've been to meetings where I am the moderator, the community, and the convenor. The most frustrating was where a large range of relevant topics were held to be "not part of the meeting". It was a inner city transportation meeting where we could not discus transit or highways inside the suburban ring road. The audience looked at each saying, why are we here?

    On the other hand, no one wants a meeting where one person pushes their agenda for way too long. So running a meeting is a skill.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    So running a meeting is a skill.
    And I've seen more times where there is a lack of skill. The fair city where I live is notorious for poorly-run, crushingly boring meetings. But it must be OK, because it continues.

    I agree there should be some control, but not too much. I also like flip charts as there is some sense of "permanence", but I'll use the Post-it kind so I can stick them up again. I think having several ways of giving opinions is good too, because some are too shy to speak with a mic and speaker. As above, it depends, and it is a skill. With some art.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I tend not to like the wide-open meetings where people come up to a microphone to speak, whether anyone is holding it or whether it is moderated for time, etc. In these situations people more often talk to the audience rather than discuss issues and work to understand each other or build consensus. There are a variety of techniques that can be used depending on the number of people and the kind of input desired. These make for more participatory meetings, better discussion, focused input, and less grandstanding or bullying.
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  6. #6
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    How essential is more modern media becoming in public consultation? How is it being received and is it actually useful?
    I'm thinking along the lines of new presentation software, rendering software for charrettes and statutory public meetings, software for collecting comments, etc...Is anyone trying anything cutting edge or even just 'new'?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    My city has the little "instant survey" boxes where audience members can vote A/B on ideas presented. Seemed to go over well at the meetings but were derided as smoke and mirrors by the city's critics.

    From my own work my only special strategy is to hold contentious meetings in a church meeting hall, people tend not to get as worked up there. But every meeting is different.

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