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Appearing Before Board Members

Appearing Before Board Members

Appearing Before Board Members

Hello everyone,

I am 33 years old and currently studying for my PE. My experience is primarily in land development and stormwater management. I am not only the designer/drafter/engineer on my projects, I also need to appear before planning commissions, board of adjustments and technical advisory committees (All open to the public). I truly enjoy it and am usually successful with approvals, but I am often taken back by the level of arrogance from many board members or engineers. It's almost as if they want to make you look like you didn't do your job when in fact I did and then some! I feel it's my age and the fact that I'm not yet a PE that makes these members want to derail aspects of a project.

Does anyone have advise on how you handle these types of people? I love what I do, but easily get thrown off by rude/arrogant questioning.


RE: Appearing Before Board Members

I would start by showing them the respect that their position deserves. You may learn that their "arrogance" is actually the voice of experience, and that your project might benefit from consideration of some of the questions they pose. Perhaps their skepticism is because others in the past were not as conscientious about their work as you are, but you'll have to convince them of your competence and thoroughness over the course of probably several meetings before they begin to trust that you know what you're doing. You certainly will not do yourself or your projects any favors by being condescending.

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

There's that, but there are those that relish in beating you about the head and shoulders with their power, because they want to compensate their tiny nether appendages with a swelled head. Nevertheless, HR's prescription for treatment still applies; it does you little good to antagonize them, or create enemies.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Appearing Before Board Members

I've found the arrogant type to be exceedingly rare- more likely you're unknowingly testing their patience with long-winded speeches. Learn to cut to the chase and only speak when it counts- this is a technical subject and nobody is here to make you feel good about yourself.

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

What is your education and degrees? If no degree in engineering, that also may be holding you back. Degreed engineers tend to look down on those that missed that basic minimum standard.

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

Salesmanship 101 suggests you acknowledge their argument or even demonstrate some sense of agreement. You then proceed to explain how you have tried to address these concern/s. If it is as Mad Mike suggests, it wouldn't hurt to ask a tenured member of the panel to critic your method of presentation/s.

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

10 years into my career, I took advantage of a stint at a college to take a public speaking class. It really helped. You could check whether your local community college offers it, or there is a Toast Masters chapter near you, etc.

My glass has a v/c ratio of 0.5

Maybe the tyranny of Murphy is the penalty for hubris. - http://xkcd.com/319/

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

You don't work in Engineering. You work in LAND DEVELOPMENT. There will be people who want to derail your projects long after you have a PE.... right up to the day you retire or die working.... Just answer the questions, follow the procedures, and represent your client. Don't assume people REALLY think you're unprofessional or a bad engineer, not even if they say it to your face or rant about it in the town paper. If you do good work and keep at it long enough, you'll get hired by some of the tomato throwers eventually.

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

Just curious...if you're not a PE, why isnt the person signing and sealing your drawings appearing before these boards?

RE: Appearing Before Board Members

Twinkie, i don't know what the OP's situation is, but i have thoughts to share..... in my experience, i think it's pretty common for the project manager or a client manager to handle permitting boards and that person isn't always the PE and sometimes isn't an engineer at all. I've got clients who have their attorney present the project. Sometimes we work on the site design under contract with the Architect and the Architect handles the presentation and answer site questions. Sometimes the client wants to present themselves if they are savvy. I have to sit through a lot of presentations by others while i wait my project's turn and i would guess that 50% of the time the Civil EOR on the plan submission isn't there. Regardless, the EOR should always review the minutes and written permit conditions. If the PE and the OP were both attending, clients might expect 1 to bill the job and the other to be there for professional development.

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