When searching for solutions to community issues, it is essential to get the opinions and stories of community members that are in the middle of it all. Community consultations can be simple and constructive when well prepared.
Here are a few things to consider when hosting community consultations.
Read until the end for FMM downloadable PDFs!
Highlight the priorities: Figure out the issues that most need to be discussed and provide a little bit of background to summarize the situation. Stay succinct, it will help your participants focus on the issues at hand. If it’s difficult to stay succinct perhaps it’s a sign that you need to host more than one consultation.
Identify the different peoples directly impacted by the issues: they are your target participants for the community consultation.
Ensure that the community consultation is convenient for your target participants: find an accessible location (consider public transit, parking, and physical accessibility), set the event at a convenient time of the week and day, if appropriate consider providing child supervision, bus tickets, and snacks or meals. Make it easy for participants to share. Prepare icebreakers and get all of the materials needed (name tags, boards, markers, pens, paper, posters, notepads to take home, etc).
Ensure that the community consultation is well promoted and use your network to spread the word: getting partners to tell others about an event usually helps in getting target participants that are ready to commit time and energy.
Get permission: have forms ready to ensure that you know who is consenting to you sharing their picture and/or words.
To learn more about how to meaningfully structure interactions during gatherings, check out this article and TED Talk: How to hold work meetings and events that connect people — even online
Listen and take notes: record discussions as well as stories, visions, and ideas that are being shared.
Before attendees leave: let them know how you’re going to further connect and follow-up with them. Make sure that it’s easy for them to get the information and follow-up with you if they wish.
Prepare a succinct report of the event: include the purpose, what you’ve gathered during the consultation, your next step as well as something that readers can do if they want to get involved.
Follow-up on your next step: make sure that it’s something that you or your organization is actually going to do. When participants see that you follow-up and that some kind of progress came from the event that you’ve put together (even if it’s the slightest change) they will be excited for the next opportunity to engage and collaborate.
These downloadable PDFs are some reports from community consultations previously held by FMM and partners:
Parker, Priya. TED Ideas worth spreading. (2020). Retrieved July 29, 2020 from https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-hold-work-meetings-and-events-that-connect-people-even-online/?utm_source=Heleo+Newsletters&utm_campaign=d3bf8f0367-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_lift_2020_4_21&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_85eb2ca8d0-d3bf8f0367-216965041&mc_cid=d3bf8f0367&mc_eid=db85c310ec
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