Organizing meetings can be difficult when the issues being discussed are comparably complex. It is important to get the right people involved in the discussion from the start using a properly crafted invitation.
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Problems and Purpose
Organizing and facilitating meetings can be both an art and a science when the issues being discussed are comparably complex. Getting the right people involved in the discussion from the start can ease the facilitation process. Inviting the “right” people in the "right" way is key to reaching consensus. Invitations sent to prospective participants are a good way to begin the conversation and build excitement for the event.
Origins and Development
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How it Works
Invitations should create anticipation in the recipient. The announcement to the event should be written in a personable but formal manner that elevates the importance of the recipient and the event. Those invited will be excited to attend and will feel honored to have been included.
An invitation should also gives those who are not interested in the event permission to miss it. While they should not put undo pressure on recipients, invitations should attempt to draw people who would not normally attend similar events or who are not already actively engaged in the issues under discussion.
Regardless of the event or process methodology, invitations should describe the issues under discussion and the participatory process in a way that tells recipients what they are being asked to do, how they will be participating, and whether there are other opportunities to get involved. A good explanation may involve:
- how the event will affect the invited person, their family, and their community;
- how the event will give those invited the chance to have a say on the issue(s) and which days they’ll need to attend in order to present their opinion or solution;
- what the objective of each meeting will be, whether it will be a stating of the problem, a brainstorming session with others, or a resolution meeting.
Just because the invitations have been sent doesn’t mean the excitement should end. Restating the purpose of the event during the opening remarks will help focus the discussions. Reminding attendees of the intended purpose of the event will also make it easier to refocus everyone if people stray off topic.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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"Invitation Letter Template," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://goo.gl/EQ9ESL
Keiva Hummel, "How to Recruit Dialogue Participants," National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, Jan 26, 2016, http://ncdd.org/rc/item/10503/
Lead image: Bare International https://goo.gl/GaXtEJ