(In case any of you are interested; if not, perhaps you’d be interested to know that the only time I ever run into Kevin Ksen is when he’s taking photos of various community groups before Council meetings. It still boggles my mind that he knows who I am.)
Previously, my public commenting has consisted of a wave when I got voted on for Hope Cemetery Commission, and frequent winks to Mike Germain.
So, speaking before the Council was a really big deal for me. Here’s how to go about preparing for it:
1) Let the Mayor know you’re going to speak.
In this case, I emailed his staff people, and came extra early to the meeting to give them a heads up that I wanted to speak. JOB let me know that he’d try to get me in as early as possible, because he knows I have kids whom I need to get home to.
2) If you’re going to prepare handouts…
I emailed handouts to the Council the evening before, but I also brought handouts for every Councilor and the Mayor (11 people), plus the City Manager (or, as was the case tonight, the City Solicitor), plus the City Clerk. So, plan on thirteen handouts plus whatever you’re going to have in front of you. You can place the handouts on each person’s desk before the meeting.
3) Dress for success.
This is more for the ladies. Tracy knows I’m a firm believer in pantsuits (in this case, a tweed Harvé Benard I picked up at Goodwill) and scarves (Echo oblong scarf that was brown/tan with magenta paisley). I do not have enough edge to pull off the Melican-on-Rosen’s-Roundtable look. (Though, as Jeremy knows, I was wearing my shoes with the holes in them, which I normally try not to wear when it’s raining. Wear sensible shoes, regardless of gender, preferably without holes!)
4) Try not to just read a speech.
Towards the beginning of my comments, I had to read off a list because I didn’t want to forget anything. I think the Councilors tend to prefer if you sound like you’re speaking off the cuff (because then you’re looking at them, not at your notes). I kind of knew some of the ideas I wanted to get across, so the danger of off-the-cuff is that it flies by and you end up saying “Thank you” and hoping you didn’t sound like a complete idiot.
5) Focus on someone.
I have to confess that I was trying my best not to look at certain councilors (because I can’t look at MikeGermain without grinning like a fool). You know how they always tell you to focus on one person when you speak to a group? You should do that. The Mayor is pretty easy, because he usually tries to look engaged. This time, though, I kept looking at David Moore because he always looks like he’s trying to get to his happy place during Council meetings. (And he usually looks like he’s succeeded.)
Anyway, I hope I got some of what I wanted to say across in my comment. Phil Palmieri wearing a turtleneck instead of a tie kind of threw off my game.
Next time I’m just going to have Germain wink at me at the right points in my speech.
Other stuff you can’t get anywhere else:
- Jo Hart agrees with me regarding Joff Smith’s height. There was another lady there who also agreed with us. I should have asked Kevin his take on Joff’s height.
- Question from Jo: there’d been some discussion about the city’s membership in the MMA/State House News but wanted to see if anyone was aware of whether there’d been any movement on getting regular citizens access. Does anyone out there know?
- I am too shy to introduce myself to Lee Hammel, but not too shy to tell MikeGermain he’s still my favorite, as long as he keeps voting the way I want.
- I may appear on Coffee with Konnie some time in the future. My husband says, “It’s because one pantsuit recognized another. There’s no way she would have asked if you weren’t wearing a pantsuit.”