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5 Simple Ways to Make Municipal Meetings Better

This post was originally published on the Granicus Blog. For more information on the GovDelivery-Granicus merger, please click here

Meetings often take up a lot of time for municipal officials and city employees. Clerks, for example, spend days putting together the agenda and publishing the minutes following the event. If the meeting doesn’t have a meaningful outcome, that’s even more time wasted that could have been used for other critical tasks. For this reason, we’ll look at five ways to help you make municipal meetings as effective as possible.

1. Provide action steps

Whether the meeting is held internally or in a broader public forum, the meeting’s facilitator should provide action steps before and after. This reminds people of the greater mission and ensures that everyone understands what their next tasks will be. Forbes contributor Erika Andersen noted that it’s imperative the group agrees on their responsibilities and that follow-ups are in place to monitor progress.

After the meeting has concluded, go around the room and have everyone say a few words about what their next steps are. Knowing they will be asked this question may help attendees form a better action plan.

2. Keep the goal in mind

It’s easy (especially in public forums) to lose track of the initial goal. Entrepreneur contributor Shari Alexander noted that you must be able to step back and see the bigger picture at all times.

If you’re collecting citizen feedback, it can be used to meet the overall vision. If legislation is on the table, can it help the community and improve municipal operations? These goals can be key determining factors in how officials run the town and what impact meetings have on these decisions.

“If someone is unable to attend, he or she can simply log in and still participate remotely.”

3. Get community involved

Citizen engagement is a major priority for municipal operations. Having residents participate in meetings can be a driver for this initiative. Last year, for example, Cambridge, Mass., took this idea to the next level. After soliciting 380 proposals for how to use $500,000 for one-time projects, the city turned the decision over to residents ages 12 and over to pick among the 20 best pitches, The Boston Globe reported.

This type of participatory budgeting can streamline council decision-making processes and show what issues the community prioritizes. Cambridge’s effort showed that residents valued new trees and children’s books over a park amphitheater, for example.

4. Use a digital workflow

Instead of printing agendas or gathering physical votes, use legislative management tools. Not only will this help involve the audience, but it will also keep employees engaged in their work. These tools can easily track actions, cut down on paper and enable smooth collaboration across departments. The benefits will improve municipal processes and ensure that meetings proceed efficiently.

5. Make meetings available

Having a record of the meeting is a good step to improving government transparency and ensuring that everyone understands the actions that took place. If a citizen or council member is unable to attend, they can simply log in and participate remotely. This means that meetings won’t have to be put on hold and that everything can be easily shared to interested parties.