Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

7. Consider Available Financial Resources. As you begin planning a forum, you will need fairly accurate estimates of your expected expenses. And you’ll need to identify sources of financing. You may need to consider space and food for an in-person forum, as well as postage/printing, travel expenses, meeting supplies, training costs associated with facilitator training, and stipends for facilitators and guest speakers.

For a virtual forum, you may have some of the same expenses excluding space and food costs. You may also consider offering incentives for evaluation completion. “ Tool 4: Forum Budget Planning Template” is included in the Tools section of this how-to guide.

8. Announce and Promote the Forum . You almost can’t start early enough to announce the forum. This allows people to reserve the date on their calendars. Promote the forum as you get closer to build excitement and provide information. 9. Identify and Train Facilitators . Facilitators are key to engaging participants and implementing adult learning and other principles. They will need sufficient training so they understand the intended outcomes, processes, etc. and have sufficient confidence that they can do the facilitation. Not all facilitation is the same — especially if you are using an evidence-based process such as Strategic Doing™ that requires some specific tasks and guidance. 10. Engage Technical Expertise . Whether a forum is in-person or virtual, it is important to have someone in place to handle the technical aspects of the forum. In-person tasks involve managing the audio-visual elements of the session. In a virtual environment, tasks would include managing the platform, such as Zoom. Some items to consider include:

 Registration table (in-person)/waiting room (virtual)  Use of videos (computer and projector (in-person)/mp4 videos (virtual)  Tables (in-person)/breakout rooms (virtual)  Assessments (paper surveys) (in-person)/polling software (virtual)  Handling technical problems

11. Take Pictures and Document the Process and Intended and Unintended Outcomes . Reports are critical for documenting what happened and determining lessons learned. Report results are key to informing participants and the community of the forum and its outcomes. Reports are necessary for funders and others who might make decisions about future forums. And pictures help to bring the words and numbers to life, thereby grabbing interest. 12. Develop After-the-Forum Follow-up Strategies. To keep forum participants, key stakeholders, and decision makers informed of outcomes and actions, you will want to have a plan for communication. Follow-up actions will further reveal progress on intended outcomes and unintended outcomes.

B. Beyond the twelve general guidelines, we are providing additional tools to assist you in creating a successful forum. This additional information provides more detail to the general guidelines. The information is organized into three topics:


Planning timeline

2. Agenda of a forum using the principles of a successful forum 3. Engaging others


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