Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. Alexander Graham Bell.
I have read opinion polls that find most people fear public speaking more than they fear death. This fear obviously plays into the fact that few people appear to speak before their local government boards, commissions and committees.
So, what is a person to do when they believe they have something important to say to their local government? You prepare, if you wish to be successful. That can be done in one of two ways.
1) You can avoid public speaking all together by writing a letter. Not an email. A letter. You know, those things that now cost thirty nine cents. A courteous letter. You remember those. They can still be used to influence your local government officials.
Send the letter to each of the members of the board or committee you wish to convey your message. Send this letter if possible, at least a week before the meeting.
Include you name and contact information so they may be able to get in touch with you for more information. Do not send an anonymous letter. An anonymous letter will mean nothing and probably be thrown away.
You want this letter to arrive early so that they have time to think about what you have to say. You want your message to stand the test of time. If the letter arrives the same day as the meeting, the member does not have much time to digest your opinion.
Letters sent in advance of a meeting give the members time to think about your message. By doing this, your message can sometimes be much more effective than waiting to speak until the last minute at the meeting.
2) If you are going to speak, make sure you are prepared to speak. Plan on a 3-5 minute speech at most. If you have more to say than that, you should be writing a letter anyway.
Write your speech. The complete speech. Word for word, how you want to say, whatever you want to say. Then practice reading the speech. Word for word. You will only have a 3-5 minute speech so you can read and practice your speech many times. As you read and reread the speech you will automatically learn which words and phrases are most important and where the emphasis goes in the speech.