In Part 1 of a series of posts about how to voice your opinion over the updated General Plan, we talked about needing to formulate a plan of your own. We mentioned that the Planning Commissioners and County Council members have a lot of experience, and you will have to have good arguments to sway them to your position.
So, how do you sway them? If you attend these type of meetings you will quickly see many things that don’t work too well. Here are a few:
- Talking about too many concepts. Remember, you only have 3 minutes and that goes fast.
- Just saying you don’t like something and providing no explanation.
- Saying, “I agree with the person who spoke before me and then sitting down” (we suppose this does lend “numbers” to the position but there is usually something better to say).
- Repeating what 3 other people (or even 1 other person) said like you haven’t been listening.
- Acting like everyone but you is an idiot.
- Spewing wild accusations like “there has to be someone taking money under the table!”
- Yelling at the Commission or Council.
- Getting up and speaking again (there are perhaps a few good reasons for this but generally you hurt your arguments).
- Taking much more than your allotted time.
Lest you think I am one of those “holier than thou” sorts, I usually violate at least two of these each time I speak to the County Council. Improving this is a New Years resolution that I’ll probably fail at. So, I apologize in advance to anyone who has to hear me speak in 2015. Just so you have a concrete example of how things can go poorly, though, during the Basin Rec Bond final hearing regarding whether Utah law was violated and whether the measure should still be on the ballot, I violated #1 and #9. On #1, I wanted to make two points to the County Council. First, that the County shouldn’t set the precedent of violating laws and second that they had actually violated another law completely (due to timing of meetings). By the time I was done speaking (about 8 minutes… thus breaking rule #9) I had confused everyone so much that it didn’t matter. I just should have gone with my second point and spent 3 minutes on it. My bad. Lesson learned.
So, how does one make sure they have a concrete point to speak about? There are likely many strategies and countless books written on the subject. What you will notice is you’ll see many of the County Council members making lists of the issues that people bring up . So, that’s a good starting place. If you make a list of your various arguments on a pad of paper, it serves multiple purposes.
- If someone already speaks about an issue on your list, you can cross it off. There is no reason to bring it up again unless they didn’t make your point. If that’s the case, jot down what needs to be clarified so you can bring that up when you are speaking.
- It keeps you organized. If you have 5 potential arguments you can bring up, you can bullet point a few notes on the argument below it. That helps when you lose your train of thought at the podium.
- You’ll speak more clearly because you’ll have thought about what you want to say ahead of time. This limits meandering and wandering.
So, that’s the approach we are going to take in the New Year. You should do whatever works for you but being concise and on-point will serve both you and your argument(s) very well.
In our final post (Part 3) regarding how to approach the updated General Plan, we will talk about an issue near and dear to our hearts and how we are going to personally approach it.