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Citizen Participation Guide > Effective Presentations > Suggestions for providing comments

Suggestions for providing comments

Find out in advance what the speaking time limit will be.
Occasionally presentation time is limited. Prepare your comments for a bit less than the maximum time to account for pauses and for underscoring important points.

Know what you want to say.
Even if you aren’t reading word-for-word from written comments, clearly outline your ideas before you speak. List your main points briefly on paper for reference while at the podium. Practicing at home in advance helps you sharpen your ideas.

Be sure of your facts and accurate about time frames.
The points you are making will have the most impact if you can ensure their accuracy. Often, the times at which various events or decisions occurred are important. The more accurate you can be in making such references, the better.

Don’t make personal attacks toward those in charge of the meeting, staff members, or other audience members.
Such tactics only draw attention away from the important points you wish to make. Be civil. Be courteous.

Be complete, but keep it short.
Decision-makers are generally overloaded with information. They appreciate short, concise messages. People sometimes think the best way to make a point is to repeat the comments of other speakers. In reality, it often can be counterproductive because those in charge of the meeting are likely listening for as much new information as possible.

Distribute copies.
Providing a basic outline of your comments before you make them can help those conducting the meeting, the clerk recording the commentary, the media in attendance, and other audience members. This helps people more easily follow what you are saying. Leaving copies also provides a good after-the-fact record of what you’ve said. Further, it can be a good technique for expanding your limited time at the podium. Experienced speakers’ oral comments are often an abridged version of a longer piece that they hand out.

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Public Information and Outreach
Director: Mary Keltz

Street address: 1300 Franklin Street, Floor 6, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Main phone: (360) 397-6012 | FAX: (360) 397-6015
Responsible elected official: Board of Clark County Commissioners

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