A Public Meeting is a coming together of people for a specific purpose. The meeting can involve a large number of people, or a smaller number of people (under 10) who focus on a specific problem or purpose. Public meetings generally have a facilitator who encourages two-way communication, and a recorder who records suggestions and issues that are revealed at the meeting.
Public meetings provide a good focal point for media interest in an event, and photos can provide a visual indicator or levels of interest and the range of people who attended. Public meetings are often the springboard for a movement or for the establishment of a common-interest group which will continue to act on the issues raised and suggestions made.
Public meetings are familiar, established ways for people to come together to express their opinions, hear a public speaker, or plan a strategy. They can build a feeling of community and attendance levels provide an indicator of the level of interest within a community on a particular issue.
Smaller focus group meetings can be made up of people with common concerns who may not feel confident speaking up in a larger public gathering (for example, women, those who speak English as a second language, Indigenous groups). In a separate venue, these people can speak comfortably together, share common issues and a common purpose. The findings from focus group meetings can be presented to larger group meetings, giving a 'voice' to those in the community who are unable to speak up in a larger meeting. (See also Focus Group) FAO Informal Working Group on Participatory Approaches & Methods (http://www.fao.org/Participation/ft_more.jsp?ID=640)
This page originally copied with permission from the Citizens Science Toolbox