- Decide who is best to give the deputation from your group or organization.
- Usually the members of Council want to hear from a constituent (resident, user of a service or member of an organization) but sometimes hearing from the chair or executive director of an organization is fine too.
- If you are a staff member at an agency it is helpful to have a community member, client or resident speak as well because lived stories are powerful.
- Write out what you want to say – see “The Deputation – What to Cover” for a sample structure to guide you and Appendix E for a sample deputation.
- Make your deputation as personal as possible. Explain how the proposed cuts or changes will affect you, your family and your community.
- If you use a service that is at risk of closing, explain how that service has helped you, and how you would suffer if the service closed.
- Deputations that use statistics are good. Use a few statistics to help make a point. Be prepared to back up the statistic if asked by a Councillor.
- Practice reading or saying your deputation out loud beforehand. You have only 5 minutes to speak and will be told when your time is over. If you have more than two people speaking, you can share this time or you can request two back-to-back spots. Time your deputation it to be sure you are under the time limit! If you are close to the time, you will feel the pressure to rush. Better to keep it short.
- If you plan to speak in French, inform the coordinator when you register so she or he can arrange translation, or you may bring your own translator with you. If you want to speak in a 3rd language, bring your own translator with you.
- Include translation time in your five minute deputation.
- Anticipate some questions you may be asked and prepare answers.
- Send the coordinator your deputation ahead of time so that councillors will have it on their computer screen as you present.
- Invite others to go with you to show wider community support and to be a support to you. Sometimes, a few people will go up to the table to sit beside or stand behind the person presenting the deputation.
- Be creative! Present a Powerpoint, a visual, or a song to emphasize your point.
On the Day of Your Deputation
- When thinking about what to wear, consider the message you want to convey. A neat appearance that is representative of the community you are representing is most effective.
- Be yourself. Know what you have to say is important.
- If there isn’t an assigned time, you should arrive by 9:30 am at the meeting room. Be prepared that there may be a lengthy wait.
- When you arrive in the room you should be able to get a copy of the “Deputation List”. This is the list of all of the scheduled deputations that day. If this information isn’t on one of the side tables you can ask the Committee Coordinator. This list will tell you the order of the speakers and what issues they are there to speak on.
- Be assertive but not aggressive. Councillors want to hear what you have to say. If you are nervous, that’s ok as they will know that you are real.
- Be sure to keep to your time limit. The chair will tell you when your time is up.
- Speak slowly and into the microphone so you can be understood.
Tips for Being Most Effective
- If you are willing to help City Council lobby the provincial or federal governments to get more money for cities and municipalities let them know that! And then follow-up by writing a letter to your member of provincial parliament and member of parliament!
- Call your local councillor and tell them you will be making a deputation. Ask them to come to the meeting room to hear you.
- Make sure you send your local Councillor a copy of your deputation.
- Follow up and ask your local Councillor whether they support your position.
Adapted from materials produced by the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare