Managing consultation fatigue

Setting expectations and coordinating across the organisation can work to avoid consultation fatigue.

Gayathri Rajendiran avatar
Written by Gayathri Rajendiran
Updated over a week ago


  • Avoiding consultation fatigue:  To keep people interested in the current consultation. 

  • Re-engagement: To bring people back to new consultations. 

  • Participant retention: To reduce database churn and keep people in the system for the long term. 

What would drive people away? 

  • Failure to deliver on projects that have been consulted on previously. 

  • Failure to explain why projects couldn’t be delivered. 

  • Failure to acknowledge previous contributions. 

  • Failure to report back a summary of the consultation outcomes. 

  • Failure to report back on the impact of the consultation process. 

  • Too many emails in general. 

  • Too many emails about irrelevant subjects. 

What can we do to reduce fatigue? 

  • Acknowledge particularly thoughtful contributions. 

  • Follow up personally with valuable contributors to have a deeper conversation about their views and suggestions. 

  • Share thoughtful contributions via social media. 

  • Share thoughtful contributions at face-to-face events (using panels, slideshows etc.) 

  • Let contributors know when the consultation process hits major milestones. 

  • Invite contributors to participate in deeper decision-making processes. 

  • Distribute a summary email of recent consultation activity. 

What can we do to get people to re-engage? 

  • Consult on interesting subjects that are easy to understand, have concrete impacts and some emotional content. 

  • Ask interesting and engaging questions. 

  • Provide a good reason to come back. How will the consultation a ect the outcomes? How will the issue under discussion directly a ect them? 

  • Provide incentives including prizes or preferred access to processes (e.g. by invitation to Council meetings). 

  • Personally invite people who have participated in the past to join discussions about new issues. 

  • Honour the commitment required to participate in the consultation process by closing the loop 

What can we do to keep people in the database long term? 

  • Keep emailed information to a minimum. 

  • Keep emailed information highly relevant to the individual (potentially by asking them to nominate subjects of interest in the registration form). 

  • Keep emailed information local by targeting information to people from special suburbs that are more likely to be interested in projects. 

  • Always close the loop! 

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