AUSTIN (KXAN) — We get it, it can be confusing. With dozens of items on every Austin City Council agenda, there’s a lot to follow, and the process for signing up to speak may seem daunting.

Here’s everything you need to know about participating in council meetings as three new council members shake things up in their first meeting alongside Mayor Kirk Watson, who is returning to his seat two decades later.

The nuts and bolts

City Council meetings happen on pre-determined Thursdays starting at 10 a.m. You can find the council meeting schedule here.

The meetings happen inside City Hall which is at 301 West 2nd Street. There is a paid parking garage, with the entrance being on the west side of the building.

You will be asked to go through a metal detector when you arrive at the entrance. You may quietly come and go from the chamber’s viewing area as you need to. There are public restrooms at City Hall.

You can also watch every city council meeting live online using ATXN Live.

Signing up to speak on agenda items

Anyone can sign up to speak at Austin City Council meetings. There are no age restrictions and you don’t need to live within Austin city limits. Speakers can be virtual or in-person.

The only requirement is that you register in advance, which you can do two ways.

The first: Signing up online. Registration opens at 10 a.m. the Monday before the meeting and closes at 12 p.m. the Wednesday before the meeting. In-person and virtual speakers can sign up this way.

Registration can also be done at City Hall. There are kiosks inside which open around 12 p.m. the day before the meeting and close 45 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin. That option is only available for in-person speakers.

You are not allowed to register others to speak.

Any documents you want to provide have to be emailed to city.clerk@austintexas.gov by noon the day before the meeting.

Signing up to speak on items not on the agenda

Council calls it “general communication,” which means you’re speaking to the body about something that’s not listed on the council’s agenda. You must also register in advance of a meeting for general communication.

You can register online, over the phone, over email or in-person at the City Clerk’s Office.

Registration opens 21 days before the meeting and closes 14 days before the meeting. These speakers and their topics are listed on a council’s agenda for the public.

Only 10 speakers are registered each meeting and you may not sign up more than once out of every three regularly scheduled council meetings.

When do speakers go?

Most public comment starts at 10 a.m., with the exception of zoning-related items taken up at 2 p.m.

In the past, especially when there are hot topics on the agenda, the public comment can take hours and speakers may not be taken up until late morning.

General communication happens at noon.

How do I know what’s on the agenda?

Agendas for city council are posted on the council website here. Agendas are required to be posted 13 days prior to the meeting.

KXAN City Hall reporter Grace Reader also does a preview story on council meeting weeks, which will highlight some of the major items. You can find them on her author page. Those stories are posted the morning of council meetings.