I have a neighbor who is a very nice guy, but he struggles to keep focused when he talks. He rambles about anything and everything and then inevitably it results in a circular conversation, when he begins repeating what he just said. I quickly lose interest, and my mind begins to wander, while hoping my phone rings so I can gracefully exit. I can’t figure out if he is brilliant, or just simply goofy. Occasionally I get the same feeling while listening to some city council members during meetings.
Watch and listen to Naperville council member Patty Gustin as she attempts to make a point:
So what exactly did she say and what was her point?
She does it quite often. Here she is again during the same meeting, and this time it appears even she is bored with her own comments, or possibly she is reading from a prepared statement:
On the opposite side of the communication spectrum is Naperville councilman Kevin Coyne, who has a gift of saying so much with so few words:
During the last two regular Naperville city council meetings, here is a cumulative breakdown of the number of comments from each member:
|# of comments
Recently the Naperville city council adopted a few new rules for themselves to help meetings become more efficient and easier to understand. I would like to suggest two more rules which would help move the meetings along quicker and help minimize viewers from ‘mind wandering’.
Just as the council has a time keeper interrupting speakers during public forum when their three minutes have elapsed, I suggest having a resident-time-keeper in the audience with a cow-bell to use when council members begin rambling or comments are no longer coherent.
Additionally, have the council vote on an agenda item before discussions, rather than voting at the end. If it’s a unanimous vote, what’s the purpose of talking about it for 30 or 45 minutes when they’ve already made up their minds. If it’s not a unanimous vote, then discuss it, but wasting time on something they already agree upon is senseless.
It’s possible that council member Patty Gustin really is brilliant. Watch and listen as she attempts to concisely make a valid point:
I think my phone just rang.