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Coalition Building – 3 Mistakes That Spoil a Community Coalition Agenda (Immediately)

Coalition building is important for sustainability.

Designing an effective coalition agenda is just as important as what you eat for breakfast. What we eat for breakfast provides our bodies with energy for the remainder of the day. What you put in your agenda provides your meetings and activities with energy and increases engagement.

When you create an effective agenda you will gain energy, enthusiasm and engagement from your members in support of your work.

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You want your coalition members engaged, right?

Here are 3 of the biggest mistakes made by community coalitions when preparing an agenda and what to do instead.

Mistake # 1 – Failure to Brand Your Coalition

What to do instead – Setting a common and consistent look and feel for your communications helps others recognize your brand. Establishing a brand is important because people pay attention to that which is familiar and comfortable.

If you consistently brand your communications people will know what to expect and learn how to engage with your communication. This is easy to do when you include your coalition logo and tag line. If you don't have a logo or tag line, you can use this opportunity to create a logo that will help to support your mission, vision, and values ​​while branding you throughout the local community.

A great way to brand your agenda is to give it the same look and feel each meeting. I suggest using the same theme and color scheme along with consistent formatting. Although the active content will change, the themes, headings, and subheadings can be consistent.

Branding can also be enhanced by using photos or images. Try using a photo or image from a recent event or activity to increase the effectiveness of your communication. It is also very effective to include photos of easily recognized local places in your community. I recommend you take a camera with you to every event. You never know when a photo opportunity with key leaders or a community champion will arise.

Mistake # 2Failure to Provide Valuable and Useable Information

What to do instead – Your agenda should be outcome focused and clearly communicate what the purpose of the meeting is and what someone can expect from attending the meeting. Each agenda should be full of valuable and useful information for the recipient.

After reviewing your draft agenda, ask yourself, "At the close of the meeting, I want to have accomplished … ______" If you can't fill in the blank or answer this question – neither can your participants. Make certain that you provide enough information that people will understand and support the purpose of your meeting. The more engaged the reader is, the more likely they are to attend your event.

Outcome focused agendas are a great way to engage new and current coalition members. Why? When you focus on the outcome (what you hope to achieve as a result of the conversation you are having) community members will know what to expect. Additionally, by clearly identifying how the outcome relates to your community and your work as a coalition the participants will also understand the larger picture and how they fit into the coalition efforts.

Hint: Assigning each agenda item to a specific person or company is a great way to encourage participation and reward engagement. It's also a great reason to reach out to someone to connect with them about the activities of the coalition.

Mistake # 3 – Failure to Focus on Outcomes

What to do instead- Use action words in your agenda items and describe what will result from the topic being discussed or what meaningful learning will occur.

Think about the who, what, how, the desired level of performance, a comparison, or baseline, when, or why is a great way to focus on outcomes.

Here are seven strategies that support outcomes focused community agendas:

1. Provide Information

2. Enhance Skills

3. Provide Support

4. Enhance Access / Reduce Barriers

5. Change Consequences

6. Change Physical Design

7. Modify Policies

Try thinking about your agenda topics in terms of which strategy they satisfy. For example, if you are discussing a youth job fair you can apply strategies 1 -3. In other words, by collaborating to bring job opportunities to youth in your community you are providing youth and families with information, enhancing youth pre-employment skills, and providing support to youth and families who are seeking pro-social community activities for the summertime.

Many coalitions are asked to report on how they have used the aforementioned strategies to impact their community. By integrating this information into your agendas, it becomes easier to report on your community wide impact during report periods.

Creating an outcome focused agenda provides both the community and the coalition members with the information they need to be successful.

Source by Jennifer L McGahan

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