This tool contains steps and guidelines to help public broadcasting organizations plan a Community Leadership Summit.
What is a Community Leadership Summit?
A Community Leadership Summit is a vehicle for convening local community organizations to identify community needs and look for collaborative opportunities. The focus of the meeting is listening and exchanging ideas. The meeting allows plenty of time — often an entire day — for thoughtful discussion. The hope is that the day's ideas will lead to partnership opportunities and create possible steps to address identified community concerns. Community Leadership Summits tend to take two forms:
- Strategic Summit: Convene a variety of community organizations to learn about common goals and discuss collaborative opportunities. Collectively identify local community issues and design a plan of action to implement cooperatively. Brainstorm and design a plan with action steps to work together on outreach initiatives around a local community concern. This model involves a broad needs assessment and a wide variety of participants.
- Thematic Summit: Brainstorm with community organizations about a particular theme or issue already identified in your community or state (e.g. diversity, health, literacy). Design a plan with action steps working with these organizations around this theme. This model involves a topic–specific assessment of participating organization's missions and goals.
In both cases, it's important to approach the meeting without a preconceived notion about what ought to be done. Rather, approach the day with an open mind.
Preparation before the summit:
- Invitations: Invite a diverse group of organizations that mirror a cross section of your community, e.g., organizations representing youth, elderly, rural, people of color, etc. Look for organizations that might not have otherwise connected with each other or organizations that aren't on the usual list of suspects for a meeting. Try to get representatives who have enough authority in the organization to support action steps.
- Meeting Facilitator: Hire a third–party professional to facilitate the Leadership Summit. Meet with the facilitator before the summit to communicate your needs and goals. He or she can help create the agenda by contributing ideas that will help move the meeting along. If possible, find someone who understands public broadcasting and community engagement. (See Tips for Finding a Facilitator)
- Draft Agenda: When inviting participants, provide a draft of the agenda with goals for the meeting. Be sure to articulate that one of the goals is simply to listen and share information with an eye toward collaborative opportunities. Often, organizations want to see a draft agenda before accepting meeting invitations. Seeing the agenda also helps them decide who from the organization should attend.
- Location and Date: It's best to set the date two–to–three months in advance. Consider holding the summit at your station. It may draw more attendees.
- Audio Visual Needs: What will you need? (PowerPoint, LCD projector, computer, monitor, etc.) Reserve whatever you need in advance.
- Supplies: Make a list of needed supplies and pack them in advance. (Paper, pens, flipcharts, nametags, markers, etc.)
- Food: Incorporate breaks and meals into the agenda. If you want them catered, arrange for it well in advance.
- Broadcast Clips: If appropriate, look online at the Community Engagement Pipeline for upcoming broadcasts and initiatives that either involve the partners you invited or focus on the issues you plan to discuss. Bookmark the pages so you can watch the clips together.
- Community Engagement Presentation: Prepare a brief presentation (five minutes) about your station's mission and its related community engagement strategy and goals. Be prepared to discuss your station's strengths relative to community engagement and the kinds of roles you could play in potential partnerships.
- Materials: Create, print and organize materials for the summit. Include participant agenda, goals of the participating organizations, station goals, participant list and name tents.
- Detailed Agenda: Work with your facilitator to prepare a detailed facilitator's agenda with time estimates and objectives for each activity.
- Presentations: Consider asking participants to prepare an informal, 5–minute presentation about their organization's mission, goals and target audience. Ask them to be prepared to discuss their current strategic themes, their strengths in addressing those themes, and the kinds of roles they could play in potential partnerships. Ask them about their aspirations for the community.
- Strategic Summit: Compile an overview of participating organizations' goals. Ask participants to summarize and send in advance their organization's top three goals or priorities for the next two years. Compile and send to summit participants about a week before the meeting with an agenda and participant list.
- Thematic Summit: Compile an overview of participating
organizations' goals related to the Summit's theme. Ask participants to
summarize and send their organization's top three goals or intended community
contributions in reference to the chosen issue. Compile and send to summit
participants about a week before the meeting with an agenda and participant list.
- Invite participants to bring organizational materials to share.
- Consider asking your station GM or CEO to participate in the summit. You many want to ask him/her to prepare a five–minute presentation about your station's mission and community engagement strategy. Be sure he or she understands the goals of summit. (This isn't a fundraiser.)
Day of the Summit
- Arrive early and arrange materials
- Check that all equipment is working properly
- Be sure refreshments have arrived and are out
- Place name tents around the room
- Consider playing background music for atmosphere
- Write ground rules up on flip chart before the meeting or create a
sign with them in advance. Here are a few examples:
- No "Slamming" other participants' ideas
- Headline your thinking
- Build on each other's ideas
- Speak for yourself
Sample Agenda Outline:
- Welcome and introductions
- Review goals of the summit/expectations of the group
- Ground rules
- Ice breaker activity
- Organizational presentations
- Brainstorming Activity
- Strategic Summit: Pose questions and divide into groups. Keep in mind: How can we work together and be better partners to address community issues? What kind of community do we want?
- Thematic Summit: Pose questions and divide into groups. Keep in mind: How can we work together and impact the community around this theme?
- Report small group brainstorming results and build on ideas as a large group
- Vote on big picture ideas
- Ask for commitment to collaborate and partner
Post Summit Follow–up:
- Send a thank you letter to participants with a summary of the summit and request their feedback.
- Create a vehicle, such as an email list, that is accessible to everyone for ongoing communication among participants.
- Consider scheduling a follow–up conference call a few weeks after the Summit, which would give time for participants to return to their respective organizations and gather input and commitment for moving forward. The conference call time could also be used to discuss concerns and next steps.