I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a few months — mostly due to a busy summer professionally. I worked on projects that afforded me opportunities to further explore what’s required for public engagement success. Successful engagements share one essential thing in common — they establish shared values between the proponent and the participants.

Shared values create a foundation for shared success or, at the very least, a foundation for shared acceptance of the process and its outcomes. And that builds trust, which leads to better engagement, which leads to more collaboration and lasting results.

The key to successful engagement is to deliver it with respect. Everyone participating in a public engagement process must deliver and has the right to expect the values represented by the acronym of RESPECT.

Are you preparing and presenting your engagement programs with RESPECT for your stakeholders, participants and the public? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is information timely, meaningful and straightforward?
  • Are issues clear and is the engagement strategy relevant to the audience?
  • Are external factors or issue of historical importance presented?
  • Is the information informative and well presented in plain language?
  • Does it present data using accessible charts, statistics and comparisons?
  • Are the presenters clear, compelling, enthusiastic, relatable, positive, respectful?
  • Is the engagement strategy efficient, targeted to the right people, inclusive, at the right time?
  • Do you have a clear plan with a timeline and objectives for the project before you start outreach?
  • Is the information presented with positivity and clarity?
  • Do you invite participants to review both the opportunities and challenges with you?
  • Do they have positive ideas on how to meet the challenges?
  • Is the process empowering and motivating for participants?
  • Do they feel part of the process and is their participation meaningful?
  • Do they understand how their input will be applied?
  • Is the process collaborative with a respectful exchange of ideas?
  • Are participants encouraged to provide their ideas or offer alternative solutions?
  • Is input welcomed and encouraged with enthusiasm?
  • Is the information, objectives and input process clear to the participants?
  • Are both benefits and the risks conveyed?
  • Are timelines and next steps understood by all?
  • Is there anything not being shared that should be?

If we share RESPECT and all it stands for, then we create a radically positive environment in which public engagement thrives.

Next week, I’ll share how participants can embrace the values of SHARE, to create a positive and collaborative engagement environment.

Maureen Douglas, CPF-IAF, is an international advisor, consultant and speaker on public engagement and community development. Click here for Mo’s FREE e-Guide to Better Public Engagement. Follow her on Twitter.