Best Practices

For Public Engagement, a Pre-Briefing activity can be the difference between a lacklustre and a great dialogue.

A Pre-Briefing is usually a series of activities that allows your intended audience to become aware of and play an active role in the design of your engagement. Often, Pre-Briefings invite all or a representative cross-section of your audience to participate in early discussions to ensure that dialogue structure, topics, agenda and even logistical elements will work.

There are two significant values to including Pre-Briefings in your engagement strategy.

First, the outcome of a Pre-Briefing will validate and, often, improve the essential aspects of your public engagement. You will have greater confidence that your engagement approach will let you achieve your objectives. Second, you will boost your audience engagement. Those that participate in the Pre-Briefings will become more invested in the process, showing up themselves during the ensuing engagement activity as well as often acting as advocates for the consultation with their peers.

If you are contemplating including Pre-Briefings in your engagement plan, here are some key considerations:

  • Plan to conduct Pre-Briefings as early in the consultation process as possible
  • Clarity in your communications is imperative. Sharing that Pre-Briefings are not mandatory and that all audience members will learn about Pre-Briefing outcomes is important.
  • As the sponsor, ensure that the parameters that you set for the Pre-Briefings are clear, reasonable, and valuable to the audience. Listening and acting upon the input given is crucial for the sponsor, while the audience will need to the scope of input that the sponsor is looking for.

Not every community or public engagement requires Pre-Briefings but if you have a complex or controversial topic, want to increase audience engagement, or ensure that your engagement structure is aligned to your objectives, then you might want to consider Pre-Briefings.

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