Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

Engaging Others

This section details different types of groups and people you'll need to involve in planning and implementing a successful forum. Included are the planning team, facilitators, key informants, potential forum participants, and members of the media.

Planning Team or Committee

A planning team or committee is critical to successfully accomplishing a forum. A planning team consists of the core group of individuals committed to the process and outcomes of the forum.

Essential talents to bring to the table include:

• The Organizer : outlines current and next steps, keeps activity on schedule. • The Communicator : schedules meetings, follows up from meetings with notes. • The Doer : conducts individual outreach to team members, acquires information for forum logistics (venue, invitations, registrations, etc.). • The Evaluator : guides the process of evaluating the impact of the forum and actions taken following the forum. • The Critical Thinker : considers the options, helps navigate problems and tough decisions. • The Cheerleader : champions the objectives of the forum to help secure buy-in from organizations, institutions, speakers, and media. Your planning committee should include representatives from multiple Community Capitals sectors (see Figure 4) and perspectives who commit to some level of participation in the planning. These committee members also help to validate and elevate the issues you want to address during the forum. Some of these members may be identified as you conduct key informant interviews or the focus group activities and thus be expanded as your project implementation progresses. Vermont 2016 Forum

See Tool 6: Suggested Progression and Agenda Items for Planning Committee Meetings in the Tools section of this document.


A successful forum hinges on the opportunity for dialogue. Trained facilitators play an essential role to achieve this. Identify facilitators as you develop the invitation list. Ask planning committee members to examine their networks and make recommendations. Be clear about the role you are asking them to fill and provide background on the forum when inviting potential facilitators. Provide at least a one-hour training for facilitators (via phone, in-person, or online). During this training, make introductions and orient facilitators to the forum objectives, agenda, and activities they will be


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