By Melissa Luck, RTDNA Contributor
You know the feeling: You walk into the conference room excited about the day, only to have the energy sucked out of you by a lackluster morning meeting.
I crowdsourced for some feedback on what makes a good morning meeting and what kills momentum before the day truly gets started. People from across the industry responded with some great tips for building a better morning meeting.
Set a timer
This is the most common feedback I heard. Newsrooms that set a time limit on a morning meeting came out ahead later in the day. Start the timer, make it visible to everyone. It keeps the meeting on track and reminds people not to get derailed by jokes and irrelevant stories. The timer reminds people to keep pitches short and to the point. If the timer runs out and people aren't assigned, that means it's time to head back into the newsroom and dig for better stories.
Start with the positive
"Most of your reporters and photographers are out in the field or busy during the newscast, so a lot of the good things that happen when you're on the air never get seen by the rest of the newsroom" reminds Paul Dughi, VP and General Manager of WAAY-TV. "Let them share in the success by starting every meeting by talking or showing the things you did the day before that worked. It's a great way to keep the good ideas coming, give people some credit and reinforce what you want in your newscast."
Listen to Your Audience
We're not in a vacuum anymore. We know to which stories and topics our audience is reacting - and, it's right there on our social media pages and in our analytics. Let your digital staff speak first in the meeting. Hear what stories are drawing shares and clicks; find out what questions viewers are asking about stories we've covered; find what resonates. It's a real-time way to know what the community is talking about. It's also a great way to find people to interview who are affected by and passionate about those stories
Require complete pitches
A story "idea" is just that - an idea. A good story pitch is well thought out with a plan of who will talk and how it can be executed. "We have reporters email a written pitch before the meeting," said Sarah Lusk, Assistant News Director at WRDW-TV. "[It includes] who they plan to talk to, how it goes deeper than an event, etc. Then, hey come to the meeting and discuss what the leads are and tweak the pitches instead of starting from scratch."
Go beyond the day sheet
I like to start a meeting by asking "What are people talking about?" Too often, we drop our parent/neighbor/church member/social butterfly hat when we walk into the newsroom and fall back on news releases. Remember that the best stories come from knowing what our community is talking about, whether on TV or online.
Change the Scenery
If everyone comes in and gets comfortable in the same seat day after day, it's easy to the enthusiam that drives a truly great morning meeting. When in doubt, move. "When our conference room was filled with computers for training, we held standup meetings in the newsroom," said former KOMO News producer Kelly Just. "It kept energy flowing and sped up the process." KOMO Chief Photographer Eric Jensen echoed that idea. "I really liked having the meeting standing up," Jensen said. "It got us out the door quicker."
A few simple tweaks to perfect the pitch, speed up the meeting and add energy can take your morning meeting from good to great. And a great meeting sets the tone for a much more manageable and well-planned news day.
Melissa Luck is Executive News Director at KXLY-TV in Spokane, WA