Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
Nearly 400 local officials attended an MMA webinar today focused on effective public meeting facilitation.
Adams Select Board Vice Chair Christine Hoyt opened the session by reviewing steps for building a meeting agenda. She said it’s important to plan ahead and specify the time, input expected from content experts, and supporting materials or technology needed for a successful meeting.
Hoyt discussed a planning document that outlines the details of upcoming meetings and helps her stay organized. She also discussed standard protocol for timely follow-ups and establishing future agenda items.
Deerfield Select Board Chair Trevor McDaniel reviewed a public participation policy that his town adopted in February 2022. Under the policy, the Select Board devotes the first 20 minutes of each meeting to public comment. Allowing public comments at the beginning of each meeting, he said, permits the public to speak on agenda items before the board deliberates, which fosters respect and kindness among members and the public, promotes a successful and civil meeting, and maintains efficiency.
Easton Select Board Chair Dottie Fulginiti shared response strategies in cases where a meeting becomes emotionally charged. She recommends that board members individually review agenda items before each meeting and anticipate possible public reactions, as well as how to calmly respond.
Fulginiti stressed the importance of setting expectations, remaining in control, and redirecting comments in a positive way. She said it’s worth considering having a “side room” with appropriate town staff for working out issues that need personal attention, or calling a brief recess to reset the tone of the meeting if things become tense.
The webinar concluded with 20 minutes of questions and answers, moderated by Stow Town Administrator Denise Dembkoski. Panelists addressed questions about public comments, establishing a code of conduct, and navigating hybrid meetings.
• Town of Adams presentation (1M PDF)
• Town of Deerfield presentation (850K PDF)
• Town of Easton presentation (300K PDF)
• Meeting Notice – Town of Deerfield (85K PDF)
• Public Comment Procedures – Town of Deerfield (154K PDF)
• Public Participant Procedures – Town of Deerfield (173K PDF)
• Sample Applicant Email Follow Up – Town of Adams (25K DOC)
• Sample Meeting Planner Template – Town of Adams (22K XLSX)