Time and time again, community engagement people worry that the tools or tactics they use to engage their stakeholders in conversation aren’t good enough.
Well sometimes it’s just the way you ask a question that makes all the difference.
What do I mean? Lets run a simple test.
Think of the last major consultation that your organisation or client ran. What was one of the key questions in that consultation?
Imagine that you are in a café, its Sunday morning, you’re sitting at a communal table. People are enjoying a coffee, a newspaper, something with avocado on it.
But you’re thinking about your consultation, and it affects these people, maybe this neighbourhood. So you turn to your neighbor…
And you ask them “the question”.
In exactly the same way that it is written in your consultation document.
Don’t change it, ask them in EXACTLY the same words.
How do you feel?
Did the two of you strike up a conversation? Did other people on the table look over the top of their newspapers, intrigued?
Or did you just blush?
All too often we get caught up in our own organisational language, internal goals and objectives, and we forget to put ourselves in the shoes of the every-man on the street. Its only natural.
But the talent to ask the right question is in all of us, we all use it every day when we have conversations with friends and family, colleagues and strangers.
It is critical to provide people with simple opportunities to provide feedback or get involved and the right tools and promotion will help with this. But asking an engaging question is just as important.
Image credit: Question Mark by Leo Reynolds
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