Step 1: Learn about the issues.
Before moving forward with engaging in public discourse, make sure you are up to speed on the most recent research and news. Here are some suggestions to consider:
Step 2: Identify the proper venue.
It’s important that you know the proper level of government to work with, depending on the issue you have in mind. Here are some common ones in Ada, Elmore, and Gem counties.
- Ada County Commissioners (Agendas and Minutes)
- Ada County Highway District
- Boise City Council (Agendas and Minutes)
- Meridian City Council (Agendas and Minutes)
- Garden City Council (Agendas and Minutes)
- Star City Council
- Kuna City Council
- Eagle City Council
- Elmore County Commissioners
- Mountain Home City Council
- Glenns Ferry City Council
- Gem County Commissioners
- Emmett City Council (Agendas and Minutes)
Step 3: Prepare to participate.
- Reach out to the city or county office and request to have time to speak at an upcoming meeting. Let them know the issue you’d like to discuss or present on and be willing to work with any time allotment they may give you.
- Be ready to sum up your message in just a couple of minutes; sometimes that is all there is time for!
- Be prepared to receive questions, feedback, and possibly even criticism or critiques of your position or recommendation.
- Know your audience. Make sure you understand who will be present, not just elected officials but also members of the community or organizations on the agenda. This may impact the response you receive from the community and officials.
Step 4: Plan and organize your main points.
- Since you may only have a short period of time to speak, sometimes only a couple of minutes, be ready and organized in your brief presentation.
- Focus on the most important items and have them listed in order of importance in case you don’t get through them all.
- You may get interrupted or asked questions, so keep track of where you are at in your presentation so you can pick up where you left off!
Step 5: Look the part, act the part.
- You may feel passionately about your belief or opinion you are sharing, so be sure to keep calm and always be respectful.
- While most any attire is allowed into public meeting, it’s always recommended to dress business or business casual.
- If you are going to present slides or handouts, try to keep them clean, organized, and professional.
Step 6: Manage expectations.
- Failure is a common part of the process of public policy and community issues. Don’t give up on the process or future opportunities to present your thoughts and opinions in a public setting. Sometimes you get what you want, and often you don’t!
- It is likely you will feel like your speaking time went too quick, and you didn’t get to say everything you wanted. Be prepared for this and know that simply showing up and taking a side or offering insight is very important to the civic process.
- Be graceful in victory and defeat. Oftentimes there is good people on the opposite side of a position from you, so be respectful of them too!