Public meetings

Public meetings

Public meetings are held to have an open discussion on a subject of engagement.

The format can be adapted to fit the group but usually involves presentations or displays and an opportunity for the audience to ask questions – either facilitated discussion in groups, spoken questions from the floor, written questions submitted in advance, or written feedback provided afterwards.

Public meetings are required for major service change and usually include information about the proposed changes and the engagement process to date.

  • Time to do: event should last no longer than 2 to 3 hours
  • Staff: depends on scale of event, may require very senior staff to speak
  • Cost: ££ to £££
  • Equipment: accessible venue, catering, publicity materials, audio-visual equipment including roving microphones, communicaton support such as interpreters
  • large groups
  • face-to-face

How to do it

  • Ensure that the location is accessible to all and that everyone can join in to any discussion or questions.
  • Provide support for people to participate, such as accessible formats of communication, audio and visual tools and different ways to engage.
  • Consider using other methods, including displays and exhibitions, graphic facilitation, presentations and talking to groups, and world café. The format should be tailored to the audience. Shorter presentations and more group discussion could be better for some groups.
  • Ensure the meeting time is suitable for the potential group. Daytime may be more suitable for older age groups and evenings for working people or those with families.
  • Consider more than one meeting time or format to accommodate the needs of a wider group.
  • Advertise the meeting details with a good period of advance notice and in publicly accessible areas including local papers, libraries and service centres.
  • Provide enough information in an accessible format. There should be no need for prior clinical or expert knowledge.


  • Conveys openness and transparency about a process
  • Inclusive as allows anyone to attend if supported properly
  • Garners a wide selection of views in a short time
  • Allows participants to hear from others including patients, carers, clinical and managerial staff


  • Difficult to predict who will attend and why
  • May need to consider how to constructively involve local activists and campaign groups and media
  • Expensive to organise, depending on venue and logistics
  • Requires senio staff to be available to answer questions if the subject is seen as sensitive
  • Difficult to resolve conflict about issues
  • Can raise expectations and lead to negative media coverage that may need to be managed
Last Updated: 29 September 2021