Public meetings are often referred to as “rituals” to denote a largely symbolic activity with little concrete meaning. This essay explores how public meeting rituals may produce very real impacts on participants and pragmatic outcomes. Whereas tangible outputs of rituals are not always evident, ritual theory suggests that participants can derive latent meaning and significant comfort from their application. Although rituals serve to reify certain norms or control behaviors, they may also reaffirm civic values and encourage group cohesion. A deeper appreciation of public meeting rituals will enable participants and officials to respond more effectively to restructured or nontraditional formats as well as better deal with the challenges of maintaining participation when rituals lose their meaning.