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In defence of the Public Meeting – What’s needed to make Public Meetings more effective?

Approximately two thirds of the consultation staff who attend the Institute’s training courses profess to a loathing of public meetings. They are not alone. Councillors, Chief Officers and a range of consultancies feel even more strongly about it.

Unlike “meetings held in public” – an effective and transparent development with few detractors – “public meetings” are an attempt to engage an entire community, often as a token safety-net; a catch-all event that can be advertised in a way that prevents anyone from claiming that they were denied an opportunity to state their views.

The problems are well-known, and many people have their own anecdotes. Unexpected arrivals; disruptive or aggressive participants; poor chairmanship; condescending presenters; lack of focus by presenters; hopeless feedback by everyone….and so on.


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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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