So, it seems like we’re well overdue to step away from our webcams and back into communities to engage with people on today’s most important issues. The return to in-person engagement is exciting, but also slightly daunting.

When’s the last time you presented on behalf of your organization at a community meeting? Or had a difficult face-to-face conversation with a concerned stakeholder?

If you’re feeling rusty, you’re not alone.

While the H+K Public Participation team has been refreshing our own skills to best support the return to in-person consultation and engagement activities, we’ve also developed a training program to help our clients do the same.

Here are five important things to dig into, as you prepare to venture back out into communities for important conversations:

1. The Landscape

Consider the latest research and insights related to public expectations, trust, social acceptability for major policy decisions and projects, as well as global best practices for meaningful, effective engagement to help stronger, more sustainable decisions.

2. The Power of Storytelling

We discuss strategies and techniques for clear, compelling and credible communications to support public engagement.

3. The Art of Hosting

A lot goes into planning and implementing a successful engagement event. The physical place and set up, the format of information presentation and discussions, the facilitation approach, and what participant supports are made available to ensure the event is safe, accessible and inclusive for all who have an interest in the topic at hand.

4. Difficult Conversations

We put into practice active listening techniques to ensure that authentic connections are made, and community members feel respected and heard. This preparation is so important if you expect to be dealing with strong emotion and outrage in your community conversations.

5. Closing the Loop

If we ask people to come out to engagement events, we need to be prepared to be accountable for reporting back on what we heard and did with the input they provided. Our training offers advice on how to report back to communities and continue to build relationships going forward.

The H+K Public Participation team is here to help you return to engaging in-person with the communities who matter most to you. Find this interesting, timely or helpful? We would love to chat.