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An Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation Skills

To successfully execute Dialogue & Deliberation programming, the community organization and any partners, such as a science or technology center or museum, must work collaboratively at each step. All organizers can grow their skills and competencies in a few key areas. Common across all models of dialogue and deliberation, event organizers must ensure that they collaboratively:

  1. Identify topics that focus on relevant community priorities;
  2. Design and carry out sessions with equity and accessibility in mind; and
  3. Evaluate events appropriately to collect data that is necessary to inform the next steps for subsequent programming and the work to achieve desired impact and outcomes.

Dialogue and deliberation programs that successfully integrate voices from multiple groups within a community can lead to better and more successful outcomes, such as community empowerment, ownership, and leadership, and improved and sustainable public participation.

Public Agenda - Action Forum Map
Members of the Canarsie ‘Blue, Green, and Everything in between’ Action Team raises awareness in a presentation to fellow residents on the correlation of historical wetlands and projections for future flooding in their community at the Cycles of Resilience Action Forum. The visual aid was created for them by City University of New York graduate students.

Topic Identification and Issue Framing

Identifying topics of interest requires organizers to develop a strong understanding of the community they seek to involve and the groups that comprise it, including major stakeholders and agents of change.

Structure, Format, and Meeting Design

Designing effective agendas and creating welcoming spaces are key for executing Dialogue & Deliberation programming that is inclusive and representative of a range of desired audiences.


Facilitation is one of the most important competencies for successful community engagement in Dialogue & Deliberation because it guides participants toward common ground and group decision making.


Organizers should plan to evaluate the efficacy and outcomes of the event and partnership.

Outreach and Dissemination of Outcomes and Impact

Following the Dialogue & Deliberation event, organizers should continue engagement with participants and the community, including sharing results, outcomes, and updates.