Public Program Model 2: Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting

Description

The town hall meeting may feature a moderated discussion of a single topic, with four or five scholars or practitioners reflecting diverse aspects of the topic. Allow 7–10 minutes for each discussant. Audience members may participate in the discussion via polling, individual questions, evaluations, and online comments.

Sample Agenda (75 minutes)

  • Start–10 minutes Introductions
  • 10–50 minutes Moderated panel discussion
  • 50–75 minutes Audience participation
  • 75 minutes End

Target Audience

The town hall meeting can be marketed to a broad audience, including scholars, teachers, professionals, civic leaders, young people, seniors, and other people interested in the topic.

Site Ideas

Sites for a town hall meeting might include schools, community colleges or universities, libraries, community centers, government buildings, museums, restaurants, plazas, and religious centers.

Continuing the Discussion

There are many opportunities for audience engagement in a town hall meeting. Before the public program, consider using a website, email, or social media outlets to pose key questions to potential participants or publicize relevant hashtags. During the town hall meeting, use raised hands or electronic keypads to poll audience members’ opinions about key issues or possible answers to questions. Following the model discussed, allow time for members of the audience to voice an opinion, pose a question, or clarify understanding about a particular issue raised by a discussant. Offer a standing microphone at which audience members can line up with questions, or pass a hand-held microphone around the room. After the discussion is over, collect evaluations from all audience members. Consider directing everyone to a website or social media outlet to continue the discussion.

 

Civility and Free Expression in a Constitutional Democracy is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities under the Bridging Cultures initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Bar Association, or any of its program partners.

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