At the start, it's necessary to explain to the audience how everything will proceed. People generally have little trust in city authorities, and they come to such discussions with objections and remarks. It should be stated that criticism is expected - this will reassure listeners.
A public discussion usually consists of a project presentation and discussion, followed by a workshop. During the presentation, the architect must justify all their decisions. This helps those who perceive the landscape architect as someone driven by fantasy or vanity to understand that this is not the case.
It's essential to discuss controversial points. For example, in Chernivtsi's main square, a project of Kotsiuba Studio requires replacing linden trees. The community generally reacts negatively to tree removal, so the designers explained their decision during discussions: the lindens are old, planted by the occupying Romanian authorities, they prevent modern communication installation, and the project plans to plant more trees than currently exist. Without addressing this issue, conflict would have been inevitable.
After the presentation, it's crucial to allow enough time for questions from the audience. Listen, understand, and record - this is the recipe for a successful discussion with citizens. Even if someone is shouting, it's worth listening and trying to find the constructive in their words, thank them for noticing, and write it on the board.
Being Honest. If there's no answer to a question from the audience, but the question is valid, admit it: "We didn't consider this, great that you brought it up, we'll address it." This indicates that the meeting was fruitful and lets the audience know they are heard.
After the discussion, a workshop can be conducted. Its main goal is to gather constructive feedback on the project. People are asked to discuss risks: instead of giving negative comments, they're encouraged to think about what could go wrong. This allows participants to accept the project and think about it. They are then asked to find opportunities - the same as positives, but the person thinks about what the project will bring specifically for them. Also, it's important to assign homework - things that architects should continue working on, and perhaps workshop participants will want to help physically or with connections or knowledge.
If community participation is properly planned, a circle of project friends can be formed - people who will help defend the decisions in the future.