Pop-up engagement

View down a road with snow falling and cars covered in snow
Winter Cities Tool Badge
Winter Cities Tool Badge

About this tool

Pop-up engagements are quick and casual ways of hearing from members of the community, especially those who typically would not attend a traditional community consultation.

Winter can be a great time to do fun pop up engagements in public spaces because it’s often less expected, builds curiosity, and winter is a topic already on people’s minds.



  • Ideating, providing feedback
  • Time Frame
  • 5 minutes or more
  • Group Size
  • Unlimited
  • Location
  • Streets, parks, libraries, markets, public spaces, any places where people gather
  • Focus Areas
  • Cities, neighbourhoods, streets, parks and public spaces
  • Age Group
  • all ages


Materials List

1. Large -format surveys printed on foam core or coroplast

2. Sticky notes

3. Sticky dots

4. Markers and pens

5. Easels

6. Free snacks or drinks (hot chocolate works great in winter!)

We at 8 80 Cities use pop-up engagements in almost all our projects. While warmer weather has its perks, winter pop-ups can be a great way to start a conversation on winter public life. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean engagement needs to be boring.

In addition to providing people with a way to give feedback on a project, pop-up engagements also spread awareness about a project. Even those who choose not to provide feedback can learn more about the project with a quick glance and read some of the ideas that other community members have shared. The keys to a successful pop-up engagement booth are to make it visually eye-catching, playful, and well-located.


STEP 1: Design your engagement materials

What do you want to ask people? The easiest and most straightforward method in our experience is to use big, colourful large-format surveys (at least 24” x 36”) where people can respond to multiple choice questions using colourful sticky dots. Attach the surveys (or print directly) on foam core or coroplast and display them on easels, hanging on a wall, or any other means you have available to you.

Another option is to design surveys that require a bit more movement and activity. For example, you can ask people to respond to multiple-choice survey questions by dropping a ball into a basket representing their answer. Given the simplicity of the exercise, there are many creative ways of going about it!


STEP 2: Go to where the people are

You want to set up in locations where people already spend time. In some communities, these places could be popular parks, transit stations, busy street corners, libraries, markets, community centers, etc.

In other communities, there may be few places where people publicly gather which means you will have to do a little sleuthing. Talk to community leaders and organizations to get a sense of where people spend time. This could mean going to private spaces, such as school grounds, malls, or church basements in order to catch community members during their regular routines.

Another good way to reach a lot of people is to piggyback on existing community events that will draw a large audience, such as a festival.


STEP 3: Give people a reason to stop and talk about winter

Think about what might make people want to stop and talk to you.

On wintery days, we’ve set up fire pits, seating, and handed out hot chocolate and s’more kits. We’ve set up simple winter-friendly games for kids. We’ve given away warm hats and neck warmers with the branding of the study to raise awareness of the project while also providing something useful for participants.  There are infinite possibilities when it comes to finding fun and playful ways to draw people over to you.

When doing winter engagements, it’s best to do pop-ups at both indoor and outdoor locations so that you can reach different audiences. Setting up a free hot chocolate stand right outside a community building or right inside a community building on a chilly day is exceptionally easy and enticing for passersby of all ages.  When planning an outdoor pop-up make sure you have access to an indoor space to warm-up as you can’t stay outside as long. Have at least 2 people at a time to take shifts.


STEP 4: Invite people to provide feedback

Prepare a few different ways to greet people and invite them to stop at your pop-up engagement. It could be as simple as “Hey, do you have two minutes to talk to us about how you feel about winter?” Try out a few different versions and you will quickly find out what works and what doesn’t.

Also prepare a quick elevator pitch about your project. Use language that most people are familiar with. Avoid any jargon and of course it doesn’t hurt to smile and be friendly.


STEP 5: Document

Take photos of the pop-up engagement. If you are taking photos of children, make sure to ask for permission for their parent/caregiver. These photos will come in handy if you are putting together a report and want to show the community what types of engagements you hosted.

If you are using survey boards, take photos of the results prior to putting them away, just in case any information gets lost during transport.