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Nine tips for effective stand-up meetings

Nine tips for effective stand-up meetings

Stand-up meetings allow teams to briefly share updates—here's how to host them effectively

Wework, Insight, Stand-up meeting, Standing desks, Work life, Work culture, Productivity

Fact: Most employees hate meetings. Not only do they take up a large amount of time—the average professional spends three hours each week in a conference room—but they’re often not terribly productive. 

There are 55 million meetings every day in the United States alone. Many items on meeting agendas could be accomplished in a daily or regular stand-up meeting, which quickly gets your employees aligned and focused on overall goals. Not only do stand-up meetings reduce time spent in meetings by 34 percent, but they’ve also been shown to boost group productivity. 

What is a stand-up meeting? 
Stand-up meetings are regularly held gatherings—typically daily—during which team members share status reports on their work. They are often held while attendees stand, which helps ensure a short check-in rather than a lengthy discussion.

Stand-up meetings (also known as daily scrum meetings) have long been popular in Agile software development processes like Scrum and Kanban, but they are starting to be embraced by all sorts of teams, from marketing to project management to product development.  

Nine rules for running a productive stand-up meeting 

Effective stand-up meetings are more than just team members taking turns talking about what they’re working on. These rules will help you to make the most out of your brief team gatherings.

1. Choose the right meeting cadence for your team
Many teams have stand-up meetings every day, while others opt for every other day or once a week. Every team is different, and choosing how often to meet depends on a variety of factors, including individual availability, workload, and deliverables. Request input from everyone who will be attending the meeting to get a sense of the cadence that would be most productive.

2. Schedule the stand-up meeting for a recurring time
No matter what your meeting cadence, it’s important that your stand-up meeting be at the same time whenever you do meet, so your team is able to plan around it. It’s also important to choose a time when everyone involved is generally available. Many teams opt for having stand-up meetings first thing in the morning, but if you have remote employees in different time zones, you may have to schedule it for later in the day. 

3. Give all team members ample ways to participate 
Even if all team members are in one location, there may be days when they need to work from home or while traveling. Ensuring that there is a way for employees to join by telephone or video conference will ensure that no team members feel left out. If you have a distributed team and getting everyone on the line is difficult, you could even choose to hold the stand-up meeting online using a platform like Slack.

4. Have clear meeting leadership
Someone should always be in charge of keeping the meeting productive, and all attendees should know who the leader is. It may be the head of the department, a project manager, or a stakeholder. Some teams prefer to rotate leadership to improve engagement and gain different perspectives. Soliciting ideas from your team on how leadership should be structured is a great way to get everyone invested.

5. Keep it short
Most experts agree that stand-up meetings should last no longer than 15 minutes, and that each team member should plan to speak for up to one minute, but no longer. Depending on the size of your team, your stand-up meeting may be shorter or longer.  It’s a good idea to set a timer for each speaker or to designate someone to be the timekeeper, to ensure that everyone has equal time to speak. 

6. Clearly define the goals for the meeting
Stand-up meetings are generally informal, but it’s important that they still have structure. Most stand-ups consist of each team member sharing three key pieces of information:

  • What they’ve completed since the last meeting
  • What they plan to complete before the next meeting
  • What obstacles they are facing in completing their deliverables

Time should be allotted to briefly addressing any obstacles faced by team members, but if a larger discussion is warranted, it should occur after the stand-up meeting.

7. Stop unrelated or unproductive discussions
Even the most productive, focused teams will find themselves going off on tangents from time to time. It’s up to the meeting leader to keep the stand-up meeting on track. This can be accomplished in several ways:

  • Write unrelated topics on a whiteboard and invite team members who are interested in them to stay after the meeting for additional discussion
  • Post the topics on a team Slack channel so individuals can discuss them throughout the day
  • If topics warrant an additional meeting, assign a team member to schedule it after the meeting

8. Distribute next steps
It’s important for someone in the stand-up meeting to take notes on any action items that come out of the discussion so that each member of the team knows what they need to do and there are tasks assigned to address any obstacles. This will also help any team members who were unable to attend to stay on the same page as the rest of the group. Ideally, this should be someone besides the meeting leader, so the leader can focus on keeping the meeting running smoothly. 

9. Be mindful of employees with physical challenges
Just because it’s a stand-up meeting doesn’t mean that every team member has to actually stand up. You may have employees with back problems, those who are pregnant, or those with other physical challenges that make it difficult to stand for extended periods of time. Giving all team members an opportunity to voice any objections to standing will help further inclusivity. 

Effective stand-up meetings lead to more productive teams
Teams in any discipline can benefit from short, focused meetings that help keep the group align on tasks, overcome obstacles, and meet goals. This fosters a collaborative, productive environment that can help boost creative problem-solving and output.

WeWork’s collaborative workspaces offer teams the right space for every type of meeting, from casual, comfortable spaces for a daily stand-up or one-on-one meeting to fully equipped conference rooms for larger gatherings. Whatever your meeting purpose, you’ll find the right space to boost productivity, inspiration, and creativity.

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