At Mind, we use a variety of methods to enable people to influence and participate in our work. The method you use will depend on some of the factors explored in the 'Planning influence and participation activities' section. For instance, you'll need to consider time and budget constraints, and how many experienced staff are available to offer support.
You should also think about what activities have already been carried out in relation to the project or topic. What worked, what didn't work, and why? If you need to involve people with specific characteristics or from a particular demographic, consider what your audience will respond to.
There are usually opportunities to use a number of different methods at various stages of a project. This can be beneficial for both sides, offering opportunities to participate for people at a level that's most appropriate for them and thereby allowing different voices to be heard.
The key thing to remember is that, whatever method you use, it's not the level of influence and participation that's most important. What's crucial is that you choose the best approach for the piece of work you're developing, and one that's suitable for the people involved. We have explained a variety of methods within the toolkit, each has a different level of influence connected with our ladder of influence and participation.
If you're asking people to join a one-off focus group or discussion event, a group agreement lets everyone know where they stand and helps to create a safe space for openness and honesty. If you're setting up a regular forum, make sure you have some terms of reference in place so that expectations are clear.