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. It could be a roundtable discussion, a “town hall meeting,” or a debate. The format is up to you and depends on who will be there and what you will discuss.
Steps to organizing a public meeting:
- Determine the purpose of holding the meeting. Keep a clear and tangible focus.
- Approach other groups who might want to help organize or attend the event.
- Choose a public place with adequate accessibility, seating capacity, and sound system.
- 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.
- Contact the media and invite them to cover the event.
- Invite local representatives and elected officials responsible for the issue to attend.
- Invite representatives from relevant organizations as well.
- Distribute responsibilities for welcoming, chairing the meeting, moderating a debate, introducing speakers, arranging for audio-visual equipment, etc.
- Determine meeting format and time limit.
- Have informational materials available.
It is most beneficial to time a public awareness event, such as a public meeting, just before implementing an advocacy strategy. The event will most likely increase public support on the issue, apply pressure to legislators to respond, and will provide momentum for your campaign.