Knowing from the beginning how public participation results will be collected and analyzed, and how the results will be used to show the public their views have been heard, is key to the design of the process.
A decision-maker needs to consider how:
- public input will be recorded and analyzed;
- the decision-maker will consider public input; and
- the public will know they have been heard.
Communicating the impact of participation to stakeholder groups and the public is one of the greatest weaknesses in public participation processes. It is important to manage expectations throughout the public participation process in two ways by explaining:
- what opportunities exist to influence the decision-maker; and
- how the public participation will affect and has affected the final decision.
Confirming that participants were heard and their views were considered is the most effective approach to minimizing public resistance to government decision-making. With a greater degree of public acceptance comes a higher likelihood that the decision will be successful.