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How OWEB Board Meetings Work

1. Staff Reports

Staff reports provide background information and (sometimes) a staff recommendation
Staff reports inform the Board about an agenda item. They are provided to Board members and posted on our website prior to Board meetings. Some staff reports are for informational purposes only. For example, the staff report may update the Board on a previous decision or may signal to the Board that in the future, staff will ask the Board to act on an item. Some staff reports include a recommendation to the Board to act. For example, staff may ask the Board to:
  • Approve grant awards.
  • Allocate funds to a program (for example, in September 2011, staff recommended the Board allocate funds for the Small Grant program for the 2011-2013 biennium for $100,000 per team for a total of $2.8 million).
  • Delegate authority to the Executive Director for a specific activity or distribution of funds.
  • Approve proposed administrative rules.

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2. Providing Feedback on a Staff Report

Written Testimony
OWEB welcomes comments and topics before the Board. Public comments may be made in two ways:
 
Written Testimony:
Meta Loftsgaarden​
775 Summer Street NE Suite 360
Salem, OR 97301-1290
In order for us to distribute copies of your written testimony to Board members, please submit materials at least two weeks prior to the meeting.  In certain circumstances, OWEB will set a specific deadline for the submission of written testimony.

Public Testimony at the Board Meeting
The Board offers a general public testimony agenda item each day of the Board meeting as an opportunity for the public to speak directly to OWEB's Board members. Often, the Board will take testimony on a specific item during that item. Please see the sections below that walk you through the steps of public testimony and provide tips for being effective.

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3. What to Expect if you Intend to Testify in Person

 1. Arrive early. 
OWEB Board meetings begin at 8:00 a.m. and usually proceed through the agenda items in order. Due to special circumstances, the Board may take items out of order, however every attempt is made to keep public comment at the designated time. Also, if the Board is aware that you are going to speak on a specific agenda item, they may request that you testify during that agenda item rather than at the more general public comment session.
 
2. Fill out a yellow slip.
There will be a table with printed copies of the staff reports usually in the back of the room. Also on this table are yellow slips of paper called, "Comment Request Card." Please fill out one of these forms and hand it to Brandi Elmer, the Board’s assistant. When it is your time to speak, you will be called forward by one of the co-chairs.
 
3. When you are called to the table, introduce yourself.
Start your testimony with, "For the record, [insert name], from [your affiliation]." Speak in to the microphone. We suggest that you don’t provide the Board with printed materials.

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4. Tips for Public Testimony

 
For some, public speaking, especially in front of a large group of decision makers, can be an intimidating experience. The suggestions below are provided to help you prepare and communicate effectively.
 
 

Ask the Board for something specific.
You should be able to state your request in one clear, declarative sentence. All of the points you make in your testimony should support this request. For example, if you want them to move your grant "above the line" state so directly, and provide persuasive reasoning for why they should do so.

Be interesting first.
Board members are people, too. Respect the reality that they've been sitting in a meeting for hours, and that they hear many different (sometimes contradictory) ideas. You need to engage them so that they are interested enough to listen. While necessary to support your argument, facts are not intrinsically interesting. The best way to capture their attention is, in one or two sentences, tell a story about real people and why they should care enough to listen to your perspective.

Practice
Write out what you’re going to say and practice it aloud over and over until you can do so smoothly. It’s not a bad idea to use your cell phone or computer or other recording device to hear yourself speak. Do you speak in a monotone? Do you repeat fillers (um..., and...,so...)? The best text can lose its message through poor delivery.

Be able to say your piece in under 3 minutes.
Substance, not length, determines the value of testimony. While the Board suggests testimony to be kept to 5 minutes or less, if you aim for 3, you may have time to answer a question or two from the Board. If you seem to not have a clear statement and are taking more than five minutes, they may ask you to conclude before you are finished with your comments. To be compelling, hone your message, practice, and keep it short.

Avoid repetition.
If others have raised the same points, simply endorse what they've said. It would be appreciated greatly. It is not necessary to repeat prior testimony in detail. Along those lines, if you come as a group, designate a spokesperson. It is helpful for the Board if one member of the group takes the lead in introducing the issue and other members of the group. Members of the group are generally given the same amount of time as an individual speaker, but may be asked to limit their time in order to accommodate all who are interested in speaking to the Board.

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