Ascentum provides excellence and innovation in Public Participation, Stakeholder and Community Relations, and Employee Engagement. Our unique approach combines a complementary mix of in-person, online and social media participation to achieve your organization’s needs. Ascentum provides excellence and innovation in Public Participation, Stakeholder and Community Relations, and Employee Engagement. Our unique approach combines a complementary mix of in-person, online and social media participation to achieve your organization’s needs.
Our In-Person Service Offerings:
- Conversation Guides: The conversation guide is an invaluable support tool for meaningful and productive in-person events, from workshops to deliberative dialogues. It applies the principles of informed participation by providing a structured framework for participant conversations. For example, conversation guides present options or approaches for consideration, offer relevant facts and scenarios to illustrate key points and pose thought-provoking questions to stimulate discussion.
- Interviews: Interviews are usually conducted with key informants whose perspectives can impact or influence the outcome of an initiative. Ascentum’s fluently bilingual interviewers manage the interview process from start to finish, including scheduling, interview protocol development, data capture and analysis.
- Workshops and Roundtables: These are commonly used approaches for engaging participants in facilitated issue-specific discussion. Workshops are typically more hands-on and focus on creating a structured process that allows participants to work through an issue in order to produce specific results, for example recommendations or a plan of action. By contrast, roundtables generally aim to enable a “meeting of the minds”, an opportunity to productively generate, discuss and explore ideas and perspectives. In both cases, group sizes may vary. To accommodate larger groups, these events may include a mix of plenary and small group break-out sessions. Incorporating interactive activities helps ensure that participants remain fully engaged for the duration of the session. For example, Ascentum frequently makes use of electronic voting keypads to carry out straw polls as a means to dynamically “take the pulse” of the conversation and identify points of convergence and divergence.
- Focus Groups: Focus groups have a long tradition, both in marketing and in the social sciences, as a qualitative research technique designed to document participant reactions to a specific topic or product. Group size is usually limited to 8 to 12 participants, and the focus is on seeking participants’ feedback on a series of specific questions. From a public engagement perspective, focus groups can prove particularly useful for testing and refining messages or ideas prior to engaging in broader-scale consultations.
- Deliberative Dialogue: Deliberative dialogue is a form of conversation that allows participants to consider relevant facts from multiple points of view, converse together to think critically about options, broaden their perspectives, opinions, and understandings, build relationships and create breakthrough thinking. Whether the purpose of the conversation is to make tough choices, or simply to identify areas of common ground, the goal of deliberative dialogue is to enable thoughtful consideration of the issues in a positive and productive environment – rather than slipping into win-lose modes of discussion. In this regard, the facilitator’s role is to help participants make the fundamental shift from debate to dialogue, identify underlying values, work through trade-offs and identify, where possible, common ground on policy or program directions.
Our In-Person Service Offerings can also be complemented with facilitation, event planning and logistics, notetaking and electronic keypad voting.
- Facilitation: Effective facilitation is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful face-to-face gathering. Our team of bilingual facilitators, well-versed in a variety of topics and public policy areas drawn from the facilitation of hundreds of events, will work with clients to discuss the desired outcomes of the event, explore possible in-person engagement tools, and set an agenda that ensures your meeting achieves those outcomes. Our team brings experience facilitating one-off meetings or multiple events that feed into a larger engagement strategy, ensuring that participant insights and contributions from around the room inform the topic at hand.
- Event Planning and Logistics: Productive in-person events require not only a well thought-out processes – they also require that the behind-the-scenes arrangements have been carefully made. Ascentum provides a variety of event planning and logistics services, including timeline creation and monitoring, budgeting, supplier management, on-site staffing and floor management, participant recruitment and communications, evaluations, food and beverage management, audio visual management, and room, transportation and accommodation booking.
- Notetaking: To ensure that our engagement processes capture the breadth of insights and contributions from around the room, Ascentum provides on-site notetaking services. Our bilingual team of notetakers, with experience in a variety of topics and meeting environments, work to ensure that our clients have an accurate representation of in-person gatherings. We work with our clients to produce reports that can inform greater decision-making processes, and/or can be shared with participants.
- Electronic Keypad Voting: Ascentum is happy to provide clients with the opportunity to integrate interactive electronic keypad voting into our in-person engagement events. Each participant receives a keypad (about the size of a credit card), and is able to anonymously answer carefully-selected questions that feed into the topic at hand. The keypads provide participants with real-time results, projected onto a screen, which can in turn guide and shape discussion.