Common Elements and Materials

Common elements of engagements include introductions, ice breakers, information sessions, discussions, questions/answers, summaries, and evaluations. Materials used to facilitate the engagement as a whole, as well as the individual parts or elements of the engagement, may include signage, participant handouts, technology, writing tools, name tags, refreshments and more.  Below are common categories of engagement elements and materials. These are ordered roughly in chronological order of use during an engagement.


When people arrive to a face-to-face engagement, the first thing they may see are signs for your event. Signage helps your event go more smoothly by providing visual cues of information people are likely to need during your engagement. Common signage used during engagements include:

  • Event signs indicating the event name, date, and organizers so that people know they are in the right place
  • Table signs identifying table numbers if people are assigned to specific small groups
  • Bathroom signs in case people need to find and use the restroom
  • Signs directing or reminding people of event activities and tasks such as “sign in here” or “return your survey here”

/out Sheets and Nametags

Your signage may first direct people to a sign-in station. Sign-in/out sheets for participants and event staff can provide a record of attendance as well as track the receipt of evaluation materials, participant incentives, and special accommodations.

  • Participant sign-in sheet from the Texas Office of Court Administration
  • Event staff volunteer sign-in sheet from the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court

Texas Participant Sign-In Sheet

Kansas City Volunteer Sign-In Sheet

When signing in, you may want to ask people also to fill out and wear a nametag. Nametags can help people feel more comfortable, not only by making it easier to remember and refer to others by names, but also by helping to identify and distinguish event staff and roles. For this reason, you may want to have different types of name tags for event staff and engagement participants.

Agendas and Scripts

An event agenda provided to your participants defines the purpose of the engagement and lays out a structure for activities. A paper agenda provides participants an overview of the event. Including the agenda as part of a slideshow can help participants follow along. You may want to consider including information about next steps to help interested participants follow-up with you after the engagement.

In contrast to an agenda, a script is commonly used as an internal document shared among engagement organizers to clarify and facilitate role coordination. A script can include information about who is doing what and when they are doing their tasks during the events.

  • Agenda handout example created by the Franklin County, Ohio Municipal Court
  • Slideshow to guide and frame engagements used by the Administrative Office of the Massachusetts Trial Court
  • Detailed agenda and script/run of show created by the Kansas City Municipal Court to guide their engagement

Agenda Handout Franklin County, Ohio Municipal Court

Springfield Slideshow

Kansas City Engagement Script

Consent Forms

While agendas inform people of the activities during the engagement, sometimes you need to go beyond informing participants and document their consent. Documentation of participant consent typically occurs if people’s input will be used for research purposes or if individuals will be identifiable. For example, consent forms should be provided to all participants for using any photography or audio/video recordings of participants.

  • Consent form for evaluation/research
  • Texas Office of Court Administration media release/consent notice to community participants for audio and video recording engagement activities

Research Consent Form

Texas Consent Notice

Incentives and Refreshments

Incentives come in many forms and can serve many specific purposes. The general purpose of incentives is to make it easier and more appealing for people to participate in your engagements. Incentives can also make people feel like the time and effort they put into the engagement is appreciated. Smaller incentives (e.g., coupons, candy) can be used for engagements that require less effort such as a short surveys. Larger incentives may be used when you are asking for greater effort and time. Larger and monetary incentives also can overcome barriers relating to transportation, childcare, or the need to take off work to participate.

Examples of incentives used by the pilot teams included:

  • Gavel shaped pencils
  • Candy
  • Coupons (e.g., to fast food places)
  • Gift cards (e.g., ranging from $25-$75)
  • Food (e.g., pizza, sandwiches, coffee, muffins, drinks)

Refreshments are a special form of incentive. In many cultures, sharing food or “breaking bread” together symbolizes and sets the stage for friendly interactions. Providing refreshments in the form of coffee, other drinks, snacks, or even a meal, can help people feel welcome and appreciated. A number of the pilot teams provided refreshments as part of their public engagements.

  • Puerto Rico and Kansas City provided pizza as part of their youth engagements.
  • Kansas City arranged for box lunches to be available at the beginning or end of their adult community engagements.
  • Texas provided continental breakfast food (muffins, coffee) at the beginning of some of their community engagements.

In some cases, courts may find it difficult to find ways to fund incentives and refreshments due to restrictions set on spending of local or state public funds. In such cases, it may be necessary to find other funding sources for refreshments.

Introductions and IcebreakersGallery Image 2

Once your participants have arrived, signed in, and perhaps gotten some refreshments, it is time to begin. No matter what specific type of engagement you employ, the beginning of your engagement event will set the overall tone and expectations. Keep in mind that many of your participants may not know each other, or court actors from your jurisdiction. Kicking-off your event in a way that allows everyone to get comfortable and familiar with fellow community members can pave the way for later discussions during your engagement.

Introductory icebreaking activities might include:

  • Ask participants to briefly share their name and any relevant background information (affiliated organizations, connections to the issues, etc.).
  • Ask participants to briefly describe, in one sentence or one word, what they hope to learn about the topic of discussion (e.g., “I would like to learn more about how juries work”). Alternatively, direct audience members to a list of engagement topics, and ask them to select and comment upon the topic most important to them.
  • Ask participants to on rate on a scale of 1-10, or briefly describe how much they know about the topic of discussion (e.g., “I am completely new to this topic”, “I have some basic knowledge”, “I have a lot of knowledge”).
  • Ask participants to take 1 minute to briefly ask a person sitting next to them some introductory questions, and then they take turns to introduce that person to the rest of the group.

Pilot teams examples:

  • The  Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court used real-time polling devices to orient participants to the engagement discussion with a series of fun demonstration questions.
  • The Puerto Rico Judicial Branch used group teamwork activities as icebreakers to help participants get to know each other and prepare for collaborative discussions.

Educational Materials

Often it will be useful to provide all participants with educational materials that help frame and inform the engagement. This is especially true if you need your participants to help come up with solutions that might require knowledge of existing court processes, such as the engagements which occurred around the Franklin County, Ohio Municipal Court’s special dockets.

Note that facilitators and event staff should be familiar with any informational materials given to participants or used in the engagements and how they fit into the engagement process. Facilitators should also be prepared to answer questions. Also, it is important to have non-English language written materials and use plain and concise language.

Pilot teams examples:

Our pilot teams often used slideshows and handouts to provide information to their engagement participants.

Kansas City Informational Slideshow

Nebraska Informational Slideshow

Puerto Rico Educational Materials

Evaluation Materials

At the end of your event it is often useful to gather information that will help you evaluate and reflect on the effectiveness of the event. Evaluation surveys can be completed after the event (or before and after) and returned to event staff. Another way to obtain evaluation information is to end the engagement with evaluative questions that can be discussed in small or large groups.

Pre-Engagement Survey

Post-Engagement Survey

Post Discussion Questions

Pilot Team Materials Checklists

It is useful to create a checklist that you can use to make sure you have all the materials you need for your engagements, especially if you need to transport those materials to a different venue. Such checklists can ensure you have not forgotten anything on the day of the engagement.

Kanas City Materials Checklist

Texas Packing List