Keeping Meetings On Track

The Lighthouse Conferencing team has meetings.  We have weekly and monthly team meetings to review anything and everything related to the business.  I know we talk a lot about those large virtual events, but we need to stay on track with our business just like everyone else and getting together to discuss the state of the business is important.  What we have been focusing on, and what I want to share with you all over the next few weeks, is how we are working to improve our meetings.  There are some simple and some not-so-simple things we have incorporated to make sure our meetings “stay on the rails”.  With everyone coming from such a different background, it is important for us to really abide by some best practices to ensure we accomplish what we need to accomplish.  

I guess the first thing we asked ourselves was  “Why are our meetings getting off track?”.  Figuring this out is easy.  I really think it is.  The main reason team meetings get off track is the people joining them!  People have things to do and tend to multi-task during team meetings.  People have their own agenda on a meeting.  They have expert opinions on what is going on.  And sometimes, people just love to hear themselves talk.  It’s true.  And once someone gets going it is hard to cut them off, and then the meeting is “off the rails”!

The question here is really, “How can we make sure to address the important points of the meeting, solicit opinions and feedback, come away with a resolution or next step, and not cause attendees in the meeting to check out because they prioritize something else higher in their day?”.  Seems difficult, but I want to take a shot here at explaining a few ways Lighthouse tries to address these issues.  Here we go:

Schedule less meetings.  

Seems like an easy solution, but sometimes it’s not.  I firmly believe in real-time collaboration and explanation/clarification.  I find it invigorating to my day.  However, scheduling time to review individual parts of a project seems inefficient.  Scheduling a meeting to review a list of agreed upon next steps?  We already agreed on the next steps, no need for a meeting.  I urge everyone to take a step back and ask if scheduling a full blown meeting is actually necessary.  When people come into a meeting feeling it is unnecessary, the meeting is pretty much already off the rails.   

Get the right people in your meetings.  

Just ask yourself, “Is this person critical to the next steps that we want to get out of this meeting?”.  Having someone there just so they know “what’s going on” can often lead to meetings going off the rails, and those people adding insight that, while valuable, is just not relevant to the current conversation.  Also, avoid inviting the people who always tell you how much they have to do.  I have encountered so many of these people in my career.  The first thing they say when they see you is something about how busy they are right now.  I also find that these people tend to drive the meeting towards topics that relate to how busy they are.  If you can’t tell, this is a pet peeve of mine, and meetings are better off without self promoters.

Don’t be afraid of smaller team meeting times.

Our CEO ran a quote that no meeting should be over 30 minutes.  I tend to agree.  I even think 15 minute meetings are appropriate a lot of the time.  I hear a lot of people say, “Why even bother scheduling 15 minutes, just come by and let’s talk”.  Well, that is true in some cases.  However, there are times when it is more than two people and we need to address a critical action item.  Again, think about the attendees and what you want to accomplish and then you can figure out if the full hour is necessary…it probably isn’t.  If you get the right people on the call it should run smoothly within the timeline you set.    

You’ll notice I focused solely on internal meetings.  In the next few blogs, I want to focus on some best practices that are good tips for internal and external meetings.  The next one will be around meeting agendas.  Have any helpful ideas on best practices for team meetings?  Let us know in the comments section below!

Lighthouse has recently adopted a very robust meeting agenda for our weekly leadership calls that keeps us in line (most of the time), and also accomplishes the meeting needs of “how can we make sure to address the important points of the meeting, solicit opinions and feedback, come away with a resolution or next step, and not cause attendees in the meeting to check out because they prioritize something else higher in their day”.    

Team meetings off track?  Lighthouse can get you back on the rails!

About Morgan Will

Morgan Will is the Director of Operations at Lighthouse Conferencing. He is passionate about improving the inner workings of companies and making sure that life is a breeze for Lighthouse clients. He is a huge University of Colorado fan (which has aged him terribly over the last few years) and once sat next to John Elway at Elway's Steakhouse! He loves the snow and mountains, trying every new restaurant he can find, and ridiculous movie quotes.

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Morgan Will is the Director of Operations at Lighthouse Conferencing. He is passionate about improving the inner workings of companies and making sure that life is a breeze for Lighthouse clients. He is a huge University of Colorado fan (which has aged him terribly over the last few years) and once sat next to John Elway at Elway's Steakhouse! He loves the snow and mountains, trying every new restaurant he can find, and ridiculous movie quotes.

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