Districts In The News

Make Your Public Meetings More Effective

| Tags: | Institute for Local Government (ILG)

meeting room

California law provides general rules which local agencies must follow when conducting official business. In addition to state law, many local agencies have their own rules of conduct and procedure. However, merely following the laws and rules will not always result in an effective meeting. The following tips will help ensure a successful meeting.




Be Clear About the Process

  • Be clear about who is running the meeting and explain the
  • role of the presiding officer (chair of the meeting).
  • The chair can help ensure a more successful meeting by:
    • Explaining the meeting process and outlining local rules and procedures at the beginning of the meeting, including any limitations on public participation.
    •  Assuring people that they will be allowed to share their views.
    • Reminding all participants (governing body and public) to be compassionate about the fear of public speaking; do not allow heckling.

Be Prepared

    • Educate yourself about agenda items before the
    • Make information available to the public before the
    • Reach out to the community; talk to community members one-on-one, and to groups at their
    • Invite questions ahead of the meeting.



Be Clear About the Process

  • Understand open meeting laws, local rules, and meeting procedures.
  • Understand the role of the presiding officer (chair of the meeting).

Be Prepared

  • Educate yourself about agenda items before the meeting.
  • Review any informational material made available before the meeting.
  • Familiarize yourself with the members of the decision-making body so that you can address them at the meeting.
  • Reach out to your local decision-makers and agency staff before the meeting and share your thoughts in advance.
  • Submit letters of support or opposition, or any questions you may have to the decision-making body before the meeting.
  • If planning on making comments during the public comment period, prepare your remarks in advance.

For more tips and resources on increasing public participation, check out ILG’s Public Engagement Program at www.ca-ilg.org/engagement.




ILG offers local agencies the use of handheld wireless devices at no cost for a process known as keypad polling. The polling devices are typically used in a meeting to gather instantaneous responses from individual participants. When combined with dialogue, this technology allows participants to anonymously select or prioritize options and then immediately view the group’s collective judgment or the opinions of different subsets of participants.

ILG also lends interpretation equipment at no cost to local agencies. The digital meeting interpretation equipment supports simultaneous interpretation of public meetings. Each set consists of 40 receivers and headsets as well as the transmitter and speaker/

headset for the person interpreting. The equipment is easy for interpreters and meeting participants to use, and each set contains instructions in both English

and Spanish. For more information, contact Hanna Stelmakhovych, public engagement program assistant, at hstelmakhovych@ca-ilg.org.


Comments are closed.