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How to Make the Most of Your Public Meeting

Have you ever had a digital interaction with someone – a text, a social post, or an email – that was interpreted totally different than it was in person?

While there are countless ways to communicate, in-person meetings have the ability to connect people and issues on a different level. With meaningful input opportunities, and a chance to authentically connect citizens with government, public meetings are a common way to open up items for discussion that matter.

This is why Granicus recently published a new guide: 5 Tips to Increasing Citizen Engagement in Public Meetings that focused on best practices for leveraging certain tools and tactics to improve attendance at your meetings.

Here’s a glimpse at the tips from the guide:

  • Post Your Meetings On Multiple Channels

While it may seem obvious, the more channels you post your public meeting notice, the more likely citizens will see the information. Our guide recommends posting every meeting notice on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but also leveraging tools like email and text messaging to directly connect with targeted citizens.

In addition to posting your notice on multiple platforms, don’t forget to add context to your meeting information. Instead of posting “City council meeting tonight at 8:00 p.m.,” consider posting details like “At tonight’s city council meeting, we’ll be discussing important information about the local dog park ordinance. Be there at 8:00 p.m. to provide your input.” By mentioning hot topics, you’ll help draw citizens into the discussion.

  • Be Timely

Do you have a set number of times and days you inform citizens about your public meetings? As the adage goes, timing is everything. Ensuring that you are communicating regularly with your audience on your public meeting can make all the difference. Here is what we recommend in our guide for informing citizens about an upcoming meeting:

  • First Post: Two weeks before your meeting
  • Second Post: One week before your meeting
  • Third Post: One day before

You could also try testing what time of day is best to post your meeting notice – is your audience more engaged in the morning, afternoon or evening? Maybe it differs by channel, and you may have to adjust your strategy.

Follow up items are also important opportunities to engage with citizens, as well. If you had meeting minutes associated with your meeting or specific calls to action, send those items to your audience within the next 24 hours after you meeting.

  • Connect the Dots

Technology has afforded government organizations more ways to connect with citizens than ever before, but it doesn’t mean that in-person meetings are becoming less valuable. With limited time, citizens are choosing the ways they want to connect with government so connecting the dots is crucial up front so your audience knows their opinion is valued.

By continuing to remind citizens that their input on important decisions is important to the public process, you’ll have a higher likelihood of stronger engagement at your meetings. And when citizens show up and participate, be sure to follow up on how their participation impacted the final decision.

Want to see the other tips in “5 Tips to Increasing Citizen Engagement at Public Meetings?” Download the guide here.