Introduced in 2024 from the National Issues Forums Institute, Everyone’s In brings people together to talk about tough issues in courteous, thoughtful ways. NIFI’s updated forum format features materials and procedures specifically designed for online conversation and intended to foster respectful exchanges across political divides. It will be offered to nonpartisan institutions and other convening organizations at no charge.

EI forums build on NIFI’s decades of experience helping people grapple with choices on controversial issues. But the new format also employs approaches that make conversations more inclusive and welcoming for people across the political spectrum. The EI methodology has been tested successfully in pilot forums including both Republicans and Democrats and Trump and Biden voters. Here’s what’s distinctive about Everyone’s In:

  • Everyone actually participates. Group discussions are excellent for people who are used to talking about issues in public settings. But they are often less-than-inviting for those who are more reserved or worried that their views may be unpopular. EI forums use informal polls interspersed with dialogue so that everyone can share their concerns anonymously and help shape the conversations. These polls also aid moderators in crafting questions that encourage everyone to consider a wide range of ideas.
  • Everyone starts on an equal footing. The new EI forums take advantage of the best qualities of NIF issue guides, but they address two common problems facing moderators—not everyone in the forum has read the preparatory material, and some follow the news more closely than others. In EI forums, background information, policy alternatives, pros and cons, and polling questions are all presented within the session itself. No one has to worry about not having done their “homework” or being “less-informed” than someone else.
  • Participants stay focused. In typical online forums, it’s common for some participants to multi-task or become disengaged. EI’s intermittent polls help hold the group’s attention and ensure that everyone has repeated opportunities to share their views. During testing, the polling process often gave a bit of suspense to the deliberations. Participants told us they looked forward to seeing and talking about the group’s results.
  • EI forums move quickly. By using polls to jumpstart and propel the deliberations, the EI design gives moderators and participants more time to spend listening to each other and considering and reconsidering their opinions. Covering a classic NIF “choice work” in a typical online forum can be a challenge. The EI format sets the stage quickly, so people have more time to think and exchange ideas.
  • EI forums focus on thinking, learning, and listening. Today, our country faces a daunting series of complex issues that often seem overwhelming and unsolvable. EI forums start a process that helps people get an overview of an issue, learn about practical ideas for addressing it, and listen to different points of view. EI forums aren’t about convincing others or even about making up your own mind definitively. Instead they provide a much-needed space for learning and listening—one that often seems missing from contemporary public life.


“I thought this process was excellent. It gave me an idea of where I wanted to start off . . .  versus trying to think from nowhere . . . .It gave a comfort level, too—by selecting the polls versus everyone trying to speak it once . . . I thought it was great.”

“I think it was respectful, and we did listen to each other, and we're coming from different perspectives, but we're able to share and have a conversation, a civil conversation.”

“Yeah. I thought it was great because I normally have an unpopular opinion, so I try not to share . . . The group was really respectful, and  I'm really appreciative that I got to hear some other points of view”

“I like that the group didn't assume we all share the same views . . . unlike the real world. You might be in other people's company . . . [and] they just assume you think [a certain] way . . . . I think that's where some conflict can arise, especially during the holidays.”

“I think the polls are great . . . being able to see where things were landing. I'm an introvert, [so] I just felt more comfortable . . . having the polls and sort of knowing where to go and what to say.”