Organizing a Public Meeting

A public meeting can help you to gain support for your cause by educating other members of your community.  It can also catch the attention of the media and decision-makers.  It is a forum for interaction, for discussion of alternative viewpoints, and can provide an opportunity to question a public official.

You can structure the meeting in various ways. The format is up to you and depends on who will be there and what you will discuss. Here are some ideas:

  • Roundtable discussion: involves a group of people discussing a specific topic. Those included in the discussion agree that each person has an equal right to participate.
  • Town hall meeting:  an informal meeting for those in a specific community to voice opinions and ask questions to public figures.
  • Debates: focused on two sides of a particular issue. Each group takes a position and they explain why they are correct about this issue. This can be useful for understand different perspectives.

Organizing a public meeting:

  1. Determine the purpose of holding the meeting.  Keep a clear and tangible focus.
  2. Approach other groups who might want to help organize or attend the event, and invite representatives from relevant organizations as well.
  3. Choose a public place with adequate accessibility, seating capacity, and sound system.
  4. Publicize:
    • Send a public service announcement to the media and post bulletins in the community.
    • Prepare a press release summarizing the background to, and purpose of, the meeting (p. 42).
    • Contact the media and invite them to cover the event (p. 41).
    • Use social media to make the event known to more people (p. 44)
  5. Invite local representatives and elected officials responsible for the issue to attend.
  6. Distribute responsibilities for welcoming, chairing the meeting, moderating a debate, introducing speakers, arranging for audio-visual equipment, etc.
  7. Determine meeting format and time limit.
  8. Have informational materials available.
Keep in Mind. Plan your awareness event just before implementing an advocacy strategy. The event will likely increase public support on the issue and provide momentum for your campaign

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