Facilitating Public Meetings


An engaged and impassioned public strengthens our democracy, but leading effective public meetings has become increasingly difficult, and when derailed, can lead to chaos. Our highly polarized society contributes to a “win-lose” mentality, and tight economic times heighten the stakes when people come together to tackle public policy issues. Lack of clear meeting purpose and structure, upcoming elections or other political tensions and media attention further complicate the process. Designing and facilitating effective public meetings requires coolness, clarity, courage and skill. This workshop will help participants address the challenges of engaging people across political or ideological differences in constructive conversation about the issues that matter most to them.

Learning Objectives:

  • Achieve clarity of purposes and expectations for a meeting.
  • Understand and practice using pre-meeting preparation and design for more purposeful and impactful meetings.
  • Learn processes for establishing constructive group norms to which participants hold themselves accountable.
  • Understand and apply tools to construct “safe-enough” space for open-hearted engagement across the aisle and beyond.
  • Develop confidence in your ability to facilitate through challenging moments.


As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Diffuse “us” vs. “them” dynamics by establishing a baseline of mutual understanding.
  • Facilitate through challenging moments with more confidence.
  • Enable the discussion of divisive community problems in a structured and productive environment.
  • Anticipate and plan for possible barriers or problems are in order to avoid roadblocks or conflicts during the meeting.

Who might participate:

  • Committee members seeking to establish understanding between the committee, the public, and the city or town representatives.
  • City officials or legislative aides looking for more effective ways to plan and facilitate public meetings.
  • Facilitators wanting to refine their skillsets in order to meet the heightened emotions, and ideological differences of a community-wide conversation.
  • Advocates planning an open dialogue on a regional or national issue.

For more information, please contact us at training@publicconversations.org or 617-923-1216 ext.10.

Upcoming Workshops

April 27, 2017
Cambridge, MA
Regular fee
Early Bird Special:
Register with a Friend:
NCDD & NAFCM Member Rate:


Preparation and Purpose, Meeting Design, Role Play/Simulation, Small Group Exercises


Excellent practical knowledge. I feel knowledgeable enough about this to really use it and not have it sitting on the shelf.