How does one address a Local Council?
February 4, 2009 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Next week I'm addressing a meeting of UK Councilors on a specific aspect of the UK housing market / crisis. Questions about etiquette and the experience overall.

On behalf of an organisation I directly represent (and two others that have ceded their concerns on this topic to myself) next week I'm speaking before 51 Councilors.

This will be a full meeting of a Local Council. If this presentation goes well, I may be invited for a in depth discussion of UK Housing at much more intimate Cabinet meeting (i.e., ten senior members).

I'm comfortable with public speaking, know the subject material fairly well, am conversant with the numbers and issues and have a stock "stump speech" I've modified to suit this audience so the basics are (I hope!) covered, but I had a few operational questions.
  1. Has anyone here presented at a local Council meeting?
  2. How to address to entire assembly? (e.g., in my opening and closing pitches)
  3. How to address Councilors that raise questions after the speech (we've already been asked to seed several so there will be queries)
  4. How are these Council meetings carried out in the UK? Specifically, should I expect lots of comments / noise from the "peanut gallery" as it were, or are they better run? (my background is banking so meetings tend to be civil, sharp and to the point)
Any other tips one could pass along would be appreciated. Many thanks!
posted by Mutant to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Best answer: address the chair, speaker, convener, whatever they call it.

address the councillors as councillor so and so.

No noise from the peanut gallery except for in very contentious situations.

I've sent you a memail.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:50 PM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: If the meeting is chaired by the Mayor, then address them as "Mr Mayor" or "Madame Mayor". If it's chaired by another councillor, Mr (or Madame) Chairman .

In opening, "Mr/Madame Mayor/Chairman and Members of the Council ..."

Address individuals as "Councillor". If you know their surname, then "Councillor Smith".

It's a long time since I attended a council meeting, so I can't remember how it was run, but from (dim and distant) memory it was pretty orderly, with everyone getting their chance to speak. I suppose it depends on how contentious the subject matter is.
posted by essexjan at 1:54 PM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: It should be fairly straightforward - councillors are, on the whole, fairly normal people, who are used to receiving presentations from all sorts of folks. It never hurts to massage the egos a bit - and that's where the Madam Mayor/ Mr Chairman bit helps. If you're unsure which one applies in the case of the council you're talking to (there is no hard and fast rule), ask one of the officers (staff) first.

My job involves working with councillors pretty much every day, so if I can be of any help on specific points feel free to drop me an email.

I would say, that Full Council rarely actually decides anything - its the key decision-makers who are there who are important - primarily the cabinet, but also possibly opposition group (political party) leaders too...
posted by prentiz at 4:48 PM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: I'm with essaxjan. Remember that they don't get paid a salary, only reimbursed for expenses, which I think changes the dynamic. You'll likely want to spell their title the English way, with two LLs, and you can get some basic info about them over at their website where you can track down individual councillors.

If you also have to deal with mayors that can be more involved, like this guide to inviting the Lord Mayor of Nottingham or if you are hanging out with the Deputy Lord Mayor. You aren't being invited for tea but to address serious business, so I wouldn't get to hung up on addressing argely anarchistic formalities.
posted by zenon at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2009

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