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How to produce same-day reports for in-person dialogues that will seem, to participants, like magic!
Friday, May 27th, 2011

It’s always important, at key points in a public involvement process, to produce written reports for participants on what the sponsor has heard and how their input will be used.  This presents a clear “return on participation” to those involved – or, in other words, why it’s been worth their time and effort to take part.

These reports can be different in style, content and format, depending on their purpose.  Sometimes, they will be analytic and will only be available several weeks or months afterwards, once data collected has been carefully reviewed and assessed.

Other times, “what was heard” descriptive summaries are all that is required and these can be produced in shorter periods of time.

For some in-person dialogues, it’s possible to produce a written report for participants even before they even leave the event at the end of the day.  This can really provide them with tangible evidence of what has been accomplished.

Here’s how:

  1. Before the dialogue, start preparing a draft template for the report.  The background, objectives, list of expected participants and overview of the dialogue can all be written in advance.
  2. Create outlines for the report sections that will be completed by the facilitation team during the event.  This can include sub-headings, bullets or tables to display key points and summaries.
  3. Before the event, make arrangements with a printing company at or very close to the dialogue venue to have copies of the report printed quickly.  Make sure to give them the expected number of participants and outline delivery plans to have the report copies brought to the venue.
  4. At the event, the facilitation team takes notes and works through health and lunch breaks to analyze this data and enter the key points directly in the pre-developed report template.
  5. In the final health break of the day, send an electronic copy of the report to the printing company.  This draft will contain a summary of the dialogue up to this final break.
  6. Distribute the preliminary report copies to participants as they leave, explaining that a final report will be distributed in the following weeks.  This version will contain the results of any final discussions that occur between when the preliminary report is sent for printing and the end of the event.
  7. Following the event, distribute the final version of the report to participants.  Email may work best for this.

Producing quick reports for in-person events will seem like magic to participants, but it’s really the result of careful planning and preparation before the event even happens.

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