There are a number of forms that your hustings could take. Here are some suggestions which would work in-person or online, with slight adjustment:
These meetings take a ‘question time’ format, where candidates are invited to respond to questions from the audience.
You might want to consider the following structure:
- Brief introduction of the candidates by name and party, read by the chair
- Short statement by each candidate (a couple of minutes each at most)
- Questions from the audience on issues relevant to the election being held, allowing each candidate to respond
- Final few sentences from each candidate.
Bearing in mind that you could have many candidates, you will need to ensure that statements and answers are kept strictly to time. You will probably want to have someone with a stopwatch who can notify the speaker that their time is nearly up (e.g. ‘30 seconds to go’) and again when time is up. Online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom allow the ‘host’ of the meeting to mute speakers should they fail to stop when their time is up (this rule should be applied to all speakers fairly).
It is always a good idea to have someone lined up to ask the first question – people may be slow in starting, but they will soon warm up. These meetings are run by – but not for – the churches. People from all sections of the community should be encouraged to attend and to participate.
Decide how you want to handle questions – should questions be submitted beforehand to ensure that a range of topics is covered, or are you happy simply to take questions from the audience? If so, you should explain the rules if someone wants to ask a question and how they can do this. If running online hustings, you could ask people to submit questions which the chair or another designated person could read out via a service such as Sli.do, or if you subscribe to a Zoom Video Webinar subscription, a Q&A feature is built in.
Whatever you decide, this should be made clear to the audience at the start of the meeting. Also decide whether you will allow supplementary questions to be asked: remember that even if each of six candidates is given just two minutes to answer, each question will take twelve minutes. The chair or moderator could pose several questions at a time. Questioners may also need to be kept in check by the chair – people have come to hear the candidates, not the audience!