How To:

How to Host a Community Conversation

June 14, 2024

Organizing a community conversation about shared public concerns can help your community build a deeper sense of collective responsibility while also strengthening social bonds. It allows diverse voices to be heard, promotes mutual understanding, and encourages collaborative problem-solving. Such discussions can lead to actionable solutions, empower individuals by involving them in decision-making processes, and enhance civic engagement. Ultimately, they create a more informed and cohesive community, better equipped to address local challenges and improve overall well-being. Here are three how-to guides to help you host a conversation in your community: 


How to Organize: 

To organize a discussion, begin by defining the topic and purpose, and find potential partners who will help promote, host, and sponsor the event. Other useful tips for planning your event:

  • Promote the event via email and social media, ideally 3-5 weeks in advance
  • Communicate regularly with your venue/host partner to guide setup
  • Arrive early on the day of and try to start the discussion on time
  • Create a Facilitation Plan/Use the How to Facilitate guide 
  • End on time, and thank your participants and partners for joining


How to Facilitate: 

To facilitate effective exploratory discussions, thorough preparation is essential. The discussion’s purpose is to deeply explore complex topics, embracing diverse perspectives and generating alternative approaches, rather than focusing on decision-making. 

  • Aim for 6-10 participants per facilitator to ensure interactivity
  • Establish clear participation guidelines promoting generosity, bold exploration, and connection. Anticipate various topic dimensions and develop discussion prompts
  • Craft an outline with segments for introduction, content development, and conclusion

As a facilitator, distinguish your role from a leader or bystander, maintaining an exploratory tone, moderating the discussion’s flow, and helping participants explore without imposing ideas. Encourage participation, foster a positive atmosphere, and manage pace and transitions effectively.


How to Participate: 

As a participant, your role is to listen actively and make meaningful comments that contribute to exploratory discussion. The goal is to expand the perspectives under consideration and to develop divergent possibilities. Try to explore alternative ideas in a generous and cooperative way.

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