Our courses provide public participation specialists, communications professionals and technical experts with the communication and facilitation skills they need to successfully move their projects forward and avoid internal and external conflict. Covering broad topics such as conflict resolution, public outrage, facilitation, and public participation, our public sector training courses are designed to prepare you to meet your unique challenges with confidence.


Course Descriptions

Who Are These People and Why Do They Hate Me

This one- to two-day customizable workshop will help you and your team (re)build trust with oftentimes cynical, skeptical and oppositional citizens. Attendees will better understand and manage interactions with angry people and activists who oppose government authority and public service professionals. This is a highly interactive and practical look at some of the most current research from a variety of global sources applied to tested and proven real-world experience. This workshop is designed to actively deal with and game plan your confidential and most serious challenge in an intensive, hands-on, facilitated workshop setting to produce a workable plan forward. Content of the course covers interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, understanding and dealing with difficult people, and communication skills for working with citizens and other non-professionals.

The Elements of Powerful Public Participation

This one- to two-day course provides an overview and framework for conducting effective and meaningful public participation under a variety of government programs. It presents a well-organized approach to public participation built around TPC’s Eight Elements of Powerful Participation. It places focus on practical understanding of public participation and helps participants to explore a wide range of issues. Students will understand what is and is not public participation, how public participation supports powerful decision-making and how to engage the public to help us make better decisions. The course also covers where public participation is appropriate and how to make this determination, what makes organizations credible and trustworthy, how to design public participation for powerful results and how to avoid common mistakes. The workshop is a highly interactive mix of facilitated discussion, video, and small and larger group discussion. This course is offered as either a one-day overview of the key elements of public participation or a two-day, in-depth workshop to train, prepare and practice the skills that people will need for their projects. The two-day version is designed to be customized and allows groups to work together on planning current projects, programs and activities.

Designing Effective Public Meetings and Events

Effective dialogue, relationship-building, and shared learning are the centerpieces of public participation meetings or events. Historically, however, government managers have relied on traditional public meeting formats that simply do not work. Creating effective forums for dialogue and learning require an understanding of how people communicate and the environments in which real dialogue can take place. This course explores the fundamentals required to design and implement forums for genuine and productive dialogue. The workshop is a highly interactive mix of facilitated discussion, video, and small and larger group discussion that is designed to provide time for staff to work together on planning upcoming public meetings and events. Course topics include reinventing the public meeting, characteristics of effective dialogue. how to establish an environment for effective dialogue, the five principles of effective meetings and the basics of meeting management and facilitation.

Designing and Managing Effective Community Advisory Group

Community advisory or working groups can be the heart of higher-level public participation programs for a variety of situations, but often fail to achieve a common approach or vision to assist decision-makers. This customizable one- or two-day course looks at what makes advisory boards work and provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to convene healthy, functional boards. This highly interactive course is offered as either a one-day overview of the important concepts in developing an effective advisory board or a two-day, in-depth workshop to train, prepare, and practice the skills that people will need in managing advisory boards. The course will help students fully understand advisory groups, know where advisory groups are appropriate and how to make this determination and provide keys to making advisory groups work. We’ll also discuss common mistakes that lead to dysfunctional boards and convene a balanced, responsible membership. Students will also learn the roles of members, sponsors, chairpersons, and facilitators, how to create a mission, charter, and ground rules, the importance of shared learning and cover the elements of seeking and achieving consensus.

Risk and Conventional Communications for Public Participation

This one- to two-day customizable and highly interactive course covers the communication strategy and tactics for creating effective relationships with the public, listening to stakeholder concerns, and conveying information; all critical components of effective communication for public participation. The workshop is recommended for seasoned public communicators, public process facilitators and public involvement staff and managers who need to improve communication skills with the public and other stakeholders. Topics that are covered include how effective communication works, why communication fails, principles of communication in public participation, key elements of transparent communication and active listening. Subjects will also include dealing with difficult people, the differences between risk communication and risk assessment, an introduction to dialogue and designing an effective public and stakeholder communication programs. Students will better understand audiences and messages, and how to create information materials, messages and presentations that work.

(Re)Building Trust in Government

This hands-on, custom workshop will help your team understand and manage interactions with angry citizens and activists who seem to oppose everything you do and everything that you believe in. We’ll show you how to get people to trust and work with you. This workshop is a practical and active session dealing with the most current research from a variety of global sources applied to tested and proven real world experience. This workshop is designed to actively help you plan for your most serious challenge in an intensive, facilitated workshop setting to produce a workable path forward. Workshop attendees will understand and learn to manage projects and goals better in the current culture of pop-media and public and political polarity. Students will leave with a better understanding of public frustration and anger with public and private institutions and, more importantly, how to overcome the challenges with emotional intelligence and humanize their organization. People will understand the myths of opposition and conflict and why most judgments about angry people and their emotions are wrong in the first place. They’ll leave knowing the specific factors that indicate the likelihood and level of public anger, learn to recognize and avoid the behaviors that you and your staff routinely demonstrate that only make people angrier, and know the most common behaviors and what to do to reduce public anger and opposition and increase your own trustworthiness, credibility and effectiveness. Students will leave with a practical and workable plan to move their stalled or challenged project or mission forward and learn the behavioral change, approach, strategy, key messages and capacity to succeed.

Translating Science and Connecting People and Technology

This workshop helps public officials, scientists and technical experts more effectively communicate and connect with their non-professional constituents, become more confident and comfortable speaking in public and grow their ability to manage tough people and crowds. Technical specialists will develop more confidence in public situations, learn how to make great first impressions and adopt body language skills that support what they’re saying and grow their credibility and influence. They’ll learn about staging the setting, how best to manage the physical space, microphones and visuals, and how (and how not) to dress. They’ll also leave understanding five critical presentation behaviors to help them connect with today’s citizens – who think and learn differently than they used to. They’ll know how to get key points across and how to manage the tough questions, lean how to present uncertainty and the risks and questions in almost every public policy decision and know what to eliminate from your speeches and presentations, including the five mistakes that almost everyone makes. They’ll also learn specific tips to improve what and how they present, whether they’re seasoned or relatively new to public service.

Public Facilitator Training

Essential for public participation specialists and any leader looking to polish and improve overall facilitation skills for optimal results. TPC’s facilitation training is available in one, two, and three-day courses.

  • The one-day course is for beginners and introduces basic skills they will need to begin working as a facilitator.
  • The two-day course is an advanced course and facilitators bring upcoming challenging situations into a workshop session where they can try new approaches.
  • The three-day course is similar to the public course we offer but is customized to work with groups of people who know each other to learn and practice together.

Designed as a small, intensive, interactive learning opportunity, all three courses allow participants opportunities to practice their skills in a safe learning environment with lots of constructive feedback. Participants leave with an extensive manual and other tips and tools for becoming more comfortable facilitating different types of meeting processes and techniques. This is an IN-PERSON training with class size limits of 8 to 12. If you are interested in organizing a customized training for your organization, contact Wendy Lowe at 208-520-5338 or [email protected].

Do you have a specialized training need that isn’t covered by one of our current courses? Would you like to tailor one of our courses for your organization or offer it at your location? Please contact Melissa at 720-237-9175 or [email protected] for more information.