Presenting Submissions in Person
- Submissions may be to a Council meeting, special hearing panel, Community Board, or other agency Board meeting
- Where the opportunity is available, always request in a written submission the opportunity to present your submission in person. You can always withdraw later if it is not critical
- Don't assume your audience have read or can recall your written submission
Reasons for submitting in person
A number of strategic opportunities:
- Agencies can become familiar with you/your group
- To highlight and reiterate key points of your written submission
- To provide additional evidence obtained since your written submission
- To counter likely questions/arguments posed by the hearing panel or other submitters
- To present information better suited to a visual, auditory, or in-person situation
- Opportunity to be reported on by watching media (esp. if controversial or dramatic)
- Dress tidily
- Arrive early. This can be useful to gauge any opposition
- Briefly introduce yourself and your group first
- Thank the audience for their time and attention
- Don't speak or interject when it is not your turn
- Be courteous. Avoid slanging matches. If some of the panel are hostile, don't get upset. Smile and return to your message
- No more than 3 people to present, but others may be there to show support
- Identify your key message make them memorable
- Highlight your points. Five or 6 at the most. Don't read your written submission word for word.
- Plan the flow of your presentation to follow in the direction of your written submission
- Practise a timed rehearsal on what you are going to say, to check timing, clarity, & delivery style.
- Have people help you anticipate possible arguments/ objections that might be raised so you are prepared with superb responses and counter arguments. If possible deal with those issues in your presentation
- Speak clearly and modulate your tone to be neutral and not defensive or accusatory
- An occasional strong phrase might be used to stress a point
- Use simple, straightforward language. Don't baffle with science or talk down to people. Avoid being too technical
- Remember you are probably not speaking to experts
- Plan to speak no longer than 5 minutes so the audience will have time to ask questions. Plan an extra 5 minutes in reserve in case there is more time available. Prepare a 3-minute version in case time becomes restricted.
- Illustrate your message with personal stories, anecdotes, or experiences. Stories make presentations memorable.
- Use non-oral ways of making a point if these fit in with your topic e.g. bring a relevant prop, photos, slides, Powerpoint slides, or do a role play. Check if staff need time to upload your photos or presentation.
- If you want changes to what a Bill says, or want an inquiry to make certain recommendations, make it clear and provide wording
- Bring multiple copies of any additional evidence for everyone. Perhaps ring beforehand to find out how many are on the hearing panel hearing your submission and then bring a few extras
- Stick around until the next break, as often Councillors will want a quiet chat. This is a great time to build better relationships with Councillors and staff.
Here's Wellington City Council's advice for oral submitters
ORAL SUBMISSION CONFIRMATION
Thank you for your submission on the Council’s proposal to lower speed limits on the remainder of the Golden Mile and some adjoining streets.
In your submission you indicated that you would like to present your views to the Council in person. Your oral submission to the Strategy and Policy Council committee is scheduled for:
Thursday 12 August, 10.50am
You will have 5 minutes to make your submission. Make sure you tailor your submission so you use the time as effectively as possible. When you have finished speaking, if there is time, the Councillors may want to ask you a few questions so that they can better understand your position.
The meeting will be held at the Council Offices, 101 Wakefield Street in Committee Room 1 - which is to the right of the reception desk on the ground floor. Should the date or location for the meeting change for any reason I will contact you.
Below are some tips to help you prepare for your oral submission:
Prior to the day:
If you would like to show a power-point presentation to reinforce your submission you will need to deliver it to the Council’s Democratic Services team at least 24 hours in advance so that we can check that it works. You can arrange this by calling 499 4444.
If for some reason, you are unable to attend the meeting could you please contact me in advance so I can inform the Chair.
What to expect on the day:
It’s best to arrive at least 10 minutes early, just in case the submissions are running ahead of time.
When you arrive, you will be greeted by an advisor from Democratic Services who will show you where to sit while waiting for your turn. They will also show you where you will be speaking from and answer any last minute questions.
If you plan to bring along written material, please provide 15 copies and give it to the advisor to distribute on the day.
When it is your turn to speak, whoever is chairing the meeting will introduce you and invite you to move to the place where you will speak from.
The Chair of the meeting will remind you of how long you have to speak. A bell will ring to alert you when you have one minute left to go.
The Chair may terminate your statement if it is disrespectful or offensive.
Tips for making an oral submission:
You only have a short time to speak so use it to reinforce the main points of your written submission – the Councillors will have received a copy of this.
Try to highlight evidence supporting your position.
Speak at a moderate pace so that the Councillors can take notes if they want to.
If you are asked a question that you’re not sure of the answer to, it’s okay to say that you don’t know.
You will be informed of the results of the consultation and the final decision after the recommendation report is presented to Council.
Source: Glen Koorey's Cycling Advocates' Network (CAN) Workshop - "Creating Effective Submissions", 2007.