Five key principles guide AmericaSpeaks work. These principles – diverse representation, informed participation, facilitated deliberation, clear priorities, and links to action – can be seen in each of our projects. Learn more about our principles here.
With these in mind, the following components are often combined and offered in conjunction with a larger project and they can also be provided through standalone consulting engagements.
- Project Design: A successful engagement project depends largely on dealing correctly with several key questions. What is the issue that needs to be addressed? Who needs to be engaged when and how? Which stakeholder groups have to be involved from the beginning? How can new and traditional media best be utilized to advance the project? How can the work be directly linked to decision making, action, and implementation? How can the work and impact be evaluated? AmericaSpeaks has experience dealing with these questions in large, complex, and controversial situations.
- Content Development: AmericaSpeaks works closely with clients to define core policy challenges that will engage the target group. The issues must be broad enough to attract interest, yet specific enough to generate useful input. We then strive to create materials that are accurate and representative of all relevant views based on the principle of informed participation, meaning that before any discussion takes place, we must ensure that participants understand the issue and its impacts. On difficult issues, we convene experts from a wide range of ideological backgrounds to agree on fair, neutral language.
- Participant Outreach: A key component of any successful project is making sure that the right people are engaged. No matter what type of engagement process being used, we encourage diverse representation that includes the voices of all relevant communities. We will tailor an outreach strategy in collaboration with the client and local partners to recruit participants and reach our established targets. We also use traditional and new media channels to distribute key messages and invite participation.
- Meeting Design and Facilitation: AmericaSpeaks knows that two key elements of successful meetings are good meeting design and good facilitation. We know how to design meetings that are meaningful for all of the participants and organizers, that deal with the critical issues, and move towards the desired outcomes. Our lead facilitators have hundreds of hours of experience leading meetings of all sizes, from very small to thousands of participants. Our network of over 5,000 volunteer facilitators allows us to provide high quality, facilitated deliberation for even the largest groups of people.
- Technology Selection: Technology is central to the AmericaSpeaks model. Our use of technology allows for instantaneous participant involvement and immediate reporting. At 21st Century Town Meetings, keypad polling enables participants to vote and establish clear priorities for decision-makers. We have existing vendor relationships, and understand the advantages and disadvantages of each tool. We evaluate all the options and then implement the one(s) that will add value to your effort.
- Reporting and Analysis: After a project is complete, we have valuable demographic data and insight into participant priorities. We can work with clients and partners to analyze data and produce meaningful reports and recommendations. These reports delineate the clear priorities of participants and serve as tools for creating a link to action between participant priorities and decision-makers.
- Project Management: We work with our partners to see each project through from start to finish. Our experienced program associates will guide clients through the process of creating meaningful public engagement.