A new half-day training program, “Managing Public Meetings,” developed by Eric Mower and Associates teaches companies, institutions and public authorities how to plan and prepare for public meetings while avoiding the most dangerous pitfalls.
Public meetings or open hearings present a serious challenge for any company seeking approval for a proposed development, construction or expansion project. While failure to win public support is certainly an undesirable outcome, it’s far worse to emerge from a governmental hearing or “Town Hall” meeting in which the participants have become enraged and energized to actively fight against your plans.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a local zoning board meeting or a public service commission hearing, a company in the spotlight has to know how to prepare,” said John Lacey, management supervisor, EMA Public Affairs. “I’ve seen too many ‘simple little meetings’ go very wrong when people representing a company said or did things that alienated or angered the local citizens.”
The EMA Managing Public Meetings workshop covers:
- The best physical setup for meeting rooms to maximize constructive input
- How to prepare your messages for maximum public understanding
- How to manage the media
- Why the most productive meetings can be boring
- Why it’s critical to “Qualify Yourself”
- How to speak in public
- How to answer questions in public, especially the tough, negative ones.
- Strategies and tips to minimize counterproductive disruption
- When to use PowerPoint … and when not to
- How to “work the room” and conduct follow-up
- Ways to honestly, openly and constructively react to disruptions
“Once you grasp the ways proponents, opponents and interested bystanders interact in a public meeting, then you will be able to use strategies to honestly, openly and effectively handle tough situations,” said Peter Kapcio, head of EMA’s crisis communications practice. “The number of attendees is not important. What really matters is how you treat both sides of the debate while the rest of the community is watching.”
Added Kapcio: “Public meetings that lead to a public vote are especially critical. What happens at a public meeting shapes community word-of-mouth discussion of the proposal or issue.And that’s often the ultimate determinant of public opinion.”
EMA’s Public Relations and Public Affairs Group has a long-established practice in managing communications for high visibility and controversial situations and proposals, including the siting of conventional and alternative energy projects, ranging from nuclear, conventional and biomass fueled power plants to hydropower and wind energy developments; factory and retail expansions; public works projects and public project bond issues.
EMA’s Public Relations and Public Affairs Group offers a variety of training programs including Media Training, Crisis Communications Training, Governmental Advocacy Training and Executive Presentation Coaching. Like the new “Managing Public Meetings” workshop, these programs incorporate ‘How to speak properly in a public setting’ as a core teaching component, enhanced by the latest research in the field and EMA’s own extensive experience in controversial and crisis situations.