Monday, October 22, 2012

The Return (Bonus: Tips for Public Speaking)

I haven't been writing much for.... a while.   Life since March and the beginning of Dog Aide has been a non-stop onslaught of new, unexpected challenges, problem solving, and community activism.  I feel motivated to write, seeing stories in so much that I do.  But I've had a difficult time with balancing community outreach, rescue, my clients, and my travel for animal disaster and rescue response.  I'm finding that balance, learning how to get a little "me" time in now and again, finding time for my family and my animals, and doing things like walking meditations and (hopefully) more writing.

I do much better with the written word.  Over the last seven months, One personal issue I have had to face is my fear of public speaking.  I definitely didn't overcome this fear, but I am a little more comfortable after a couple times speaking in front of Detroit City Council and Oakland County Board of Commissioners.  Partially this is because I am familiar with the format and who I am speaking in front of.  I also realized quickly that City Council and other legislative and executive government officials are used to citizens being nervous.  I also realized that, as an animal welfare advocate, even animal lovers are not going to fight for your cause unless you can find a way your cause fits a larger purpose.

Here are my tips:


  • Use notes to keep yourself on topic if needed.
  • Be clear about your goals
  • Keep the issues current, within the immediate scope of your goal.
  • Keep the focus on citizens, neighbors, businesses, and property owners that have a stake in the outcome of your position.
  • With each of your points ask yourself, from both the opposing side and the legislator's perspective, "What is it in for me?"  Make sure you answer that questions.
  • Remember, a legislator's primary areas of interest are always financial, public safety, and needs of the constituents.  All your arguments should be centered around these concerns.


  • Get caught up in all the historical issues or a long list of minutiae or personal issues with leadership of your opposition.
  • Avoid repetitive testimony.  Help others who will be speaking on the same goal to make complementary but distinct points.
  • Focus just on your wants.  Show how a larger population will benefit from your plan through greater fiscal responsibility, increased safety, and meet the needs of the constituents.