Communicating Effectively with Public Officials

notes from a panel discussion hosted by the League of Women Voters

 

  1. Public meetings are usually business meetings. Though an opportunity for public comment is often provided at these meetings, understand that there is typically not any legal requirement to offer such.
  2. Be respectful in addressing others, including public officials.
  3. If you are able to do so, try to provide a one page copy of your comments to the "recorder" for the public entity you are addressing, with an additional copy provided for each of the public officials being addressed.
  4. When you are addressing officials, it is useful and helpful to give your name and address (at least your city of residence), particularly if you would like to be contacted for follow-up.
  5. Try to limit your comments to about three (3) main points, and be sure to keep the time of your comments within the bounds of the time allotment provided for one speaker.
  6. If you have a complaint, try to state why the issue needs fixing and to suggest what might help in fixing it.
  7. Rather than questioning the motives of a public official, it is generally more effective to question the logic or reasoning that has gone into a decision and the consequences that you believe may result or have resulted from it.
  8. Remember to thank those to whom you are speaking for the opportunity to comment.