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How to present at a board meeting
Most public meetings have a public comment period, with presentations often limited to 2 minutes each. This short time is your opportunity to give the Board a unique perspective on your issue and ask for/affirm their support.
- Often you’ll need to sign up beforehand with your name and address. Look for the secretary when you get to the meeting. You can usually find them at a table to the side of the Board.
- Provide a printed copy of your remarks for public record
- Begin your remarks by acknowledging the Board and thanking them for the opportunity to speak. If they have been good on our issue in the past, acknowledge and thank them for their leadership.
- Keep it short. You want to be as effective in your 2 minutes as possible
- Practice your presentation beforehand so that you can focus on conveying your passion instead of just saying the words
- Tell your unique personal story. What is your perspective? Parent? Teacher? Student? Artist?
- End with a clear ask and make sure that it is solution-oriented and POSITIVE.
- Thank them again
- To convince the target to support our position (short term)
- To build access and credibility (long term)
- To educate the target about our issue and our group (both)
When lobbying there are a few key opportunities we have to realize our goals.
- To provide information – documentation of the problem, proposals for the solution, info on what different groups are doing, etc
- To gather information – what else they are hearing, competing priorities, opposition (likely irrelevant for Arts Ed)
- To provide hero opportunities – give them a chance to be a leader on the issue, to get credit for doing the right thing
Keep in mind...
- Public officials are in positions of power. Even if they aren’t taking the position we want on our issue, always treat them with respect
- School Board members are elected by their constituents. Even though we should be confident that there is broad support for Arts Ed, we don’t want to sound threatening about who we represent
- Bring materials – fact sheets, reports, organization info
- Learn as much about the decision maker as possible beforehand
- Know your issue inside and out – have stats and facts to back it up
- Have a clear goal
- Be, look, and sound professional
- Listen more than you speak
- Can’t say it enough. It’s about building relationships, so schmoozing is just as important as presenting info
- All persuasion is self-persuasion. They have to believe that what we’re asking them to do is the right thing to do
- If you don’t know an answer, just say so. Don’t make anything up or make any false promises
- Follow up