Effective communication is a key to effective consultation.
Ways to ensure that you are communicating effectively include:
- being proactive and positive
- listening and acknowledging views: consultation is a two-way process
- being responsive; follow-up as needed
- avoiding jargon and acronyms
- communicating information at the appropriate level of your audience
- ensuring all written information is concise, in plain English and easy to read
- not overloading people with too much information at one time
- getting to know people and developing relationships
- respecting tikanga Māori
- ensuring that you are accessible and responsive by following through on sending out any promised information, responding to phone calls, and giving people feedback on their comments if possible
- not raising unrealistic expectations about the level of influence that consultation may have on plan development and what a plan can achieve.
Several different approaches can be taken to consult and communicate effectively with different audiences.
Some of these approaches could include:
- running interactive workshops or meetings that facilitate free and open discussions
- holding meetings of special-interest groups
- developing discussion documents, and asking people to comment on them
- holding meetings focused on particular issues
- asking people simple questions to provoke responses such as "what do you like/not like", "what do you want to change"
- carrying out perception or satisfaction surveys
- using interactive websites or media
- using participatory appraisal processes.