A stand-up meeting is not a thing from the future. Such meetings have turned into a common ritual for many years now, especially for teams using Agile software development. They have also proven to be a great way for keeping team members focused and in alignment with their responsibilities and what’s going on in the company overall.
Agile daily standups with your team members is not as difficult as you think it may be. However, it does require some amount of practice, imagination and experimentation. There are definitely important details to watch out for and distinguished ways to run such a meeting in order to take the most out of it. Remember, any meeting can turn into a waste of time. Whether it’s a stand-up meeting or a regular video conference, you should first learn how to run an effective business meeting.
In the following article you will learn:
- What is a stand-up meeting?
- Is there a specific format to follow?
- How to prepare and what to say during a standup?
- Is there an app to run it more smoothly?
So, what exactly is the meaning of a stand-up meeting?
In Agile, a stand-up meeting or a “standing meeting” is a quick team meeting that is held on foot. Basically, the entire team meets every day for a quick overview of important tasks, progress and upcoming events while members stand up, instead of sitting on their chairs.
Standups originated in Scrum but these days many companies have adopted it using various frameworks related to Agile. Yes, these types of meetings are quite typical for software development teams but throughout the years have proven they are quite effective in many other fields of work, including marketing, product development and many other areas. Why? Because they serve as an alternative approach to the regular old round-table morning team meeting.
Research conducted by The Muse has concluded that 15% of an organization’s time is spent on meetings. There’s also been an overall increase in length and frequency of meetings in the past 20-50 years. In fact, executives might spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in meetings. These numbers are shocking but represent the reality of today’s work environment.
If you’re going to spend a significant amount of time in team meetings, you might as well try a new way of running them such as a standing meeting. The results might surprise you.
What is the purpose of a standup?
Standing meetings are meant to be a more efficient substitute for a round-up team meeting. Its main purpose is to keep the initial goal of the meeting – going over updates, tasks, future projects, etc. but at the same time shorten the discussion time by keeping things as concise and straightforward as possible. This is not difficult to achieve because standing for long periods of time creates a feeling of discomfort. Team members would want to go back and work comfortably on their desks as soon as possible which would prompt them to participate in the discussion, provide their opinions and “get it over with.”
Unproductive meetings waste more than $37 billion per year. If you’re looking for a way to improve those numbers, a standup might be the solution for you. You will not lose any precious time waiting for your team members to express their opinions. Instead, they will receive their tasks, share opinions and quickly go back to their designated seating area where they feel comfortable.
How to run an effective stand-up meeting?
First thing’s first – when it comes to a standing meeting, experts advise to aim for a length between 5 and 15 minutes Anything over that might require the entire team to move to the conference room as it won’t be that convenient.
When it comes to a stand-up meeting format, speaking order, agenda items, preparation, etc. things can be quite flexible, depending on what’s the purpose or the type of meeting you are going to hold. However, we advise to follow these instructions:
✔️ Preparation. Any tips on how to conduct a team meeting effectively will start with preparation. Pick the time and space to meet for each stand-up meeting. Of course, these days with the COVID-19 situation, working from home has become the norm for employees from all over the world. Therefore, your daily standing meetings will have to be conducted in a virtual meeting room. You can still make it work, though.
For in-person team meetings, you can pick a quiet corner of the office or if you have enough rooms, designate a special one where there are no chairs or tables. You can add a whiteboard which is a very useful thing to have in each working room or office, actually.
Prepare your stand-up meeting agenda. A solid agenda set upfront is a must if you want to run an effective standing meeting. What are going to be the discussion points, action items and more?
When it comes to time, select a recurring time for the daily stand-up meeting that is convenient with all team members. Schedule it at the beginning of the work day for better results. This way, you can plan for the day and discuss everything instead of going back and forward due to lack of communication.
✔️ Define the meeting goals. Usually, standups are informal but it’s essential that they have a structure. Most of the time, these types of meetings consist of each team member sharing three important pieces of information.
So, what to say in a stand-up meeting? Structure the team contributions using the following stand-up meeting format:
- What have I completed since the last meeting?
- What I plan on finalizing before the next meeting?
- Were there any obstacles I faced in completing my tasks?
✔️ When the meeting starts, make sure everyone is standing up. Even if it’s on a video conference call, tell everyone to stand up. This way, you can ensure that all team members will be focused.
✔️ Determine the order of speaking. Each team member should share the progress they’ve made since the last meeting, their plan until the next one and if there’s anything preventing them from moving on with the task. A commonly-adopted practice to decide who will start speaking first is the clockwise or counterclockwise method. We’ve heard of some companies who throw a little ball between themselves to determine who will speak next. Once you’re done with sharing your progress and plans, you just throw the ball lightly to another person and it’s their turn. Sounds like fun, right?
Allocate specific time to every team member and if there are larger obstacles that prevent the progress of the tasks, schedule a longer team meeting after the daily standup.
✔️ Smaller teams, better results. Imagine having a stand-up meeting with 20 people. You won’t be able to finish in 10-15 minutes and you’ll end up with 20 annoyed employees desperately wanting to go back to their desks. Divide the team into two or even three smaller groups and run meetings with each “subteam.” You will immediately be convinced of the effectiveness of the division.
✔️ Spice it up! Start with a little physical activity. If you’re going to have a stand-up meeting, you might as well do a couple of exercises before it. Pushups, jumping jacks or squats are just some of the exercises you and your team can perform before moving on to serious business. Everyone’s bodies will feel energized and surely, everyone will smile or laugh which in turn keeps the team spirit uplifted.
✔️ Are there any stand-up meeting apps or programs to use? If you’re going to conduct a daily standing meeting, there are definitely many apps or platforms to choose from. We recommend you try Mombit which is a great meeting management software that allows you to keep track of action items, use built-in meeting minutes, set agendas and assign tasks. With Mombit, you can quickly generate a link to an online meeting room (on Zoom or Skype, for example) or use it in the office. Moreover, Mombit lets you calculate the exact value of your team meeting.
✔️ Be a great leader. You have to make sure the meeting doesn’t turn into a meaningless and fun discussion on who went where yesterday evening. Remember, a stand-up meeting is not a “standing behind the bar” meeting. You’re there to do essential company work. That’s why a designated leader – usually the manager or the team leader should be in charge of keeping the meeting productive and start/finish the meeting on time.
✔️ Take notes on action items. Throughout the discussion, someone should be in charge of taking notes containing important information such as who has to do what and what are the deadlines. This will also help team members who for one reason or another couldn’t attend the meeting. Ideally, the person responsible for taking notes should not be the leader as they have to focus on running the meeting as smoothly as possible. If you’re not familiar with action items and how to write them, check out how to create better action items.
✔️ Follow-up discussion. After the 10-15-minute standup, encourage everyone who wants to leave and get down to their business to do so. Anyone who has time and wants to raise a discussion point should be allowed to stay and continue talking.
Sometimes, not everything can be explained or solved during a short daily meeting. That’s why if you’re the team leader or manager, you have to make sure you’ve covered everything and you’ve heard in more detail each one of your team members. Encourage them to also help each other with current challenges.
Effective standing gatherings lead to productive teams and better working relationships
In short, focused, well-organized and straightforward stand-up meetings can certainly help team members overcome obstacles, fulfil their obligations and align with tasks and responsibilities. This type of meeting can foster a collaborative work environment and can also improve collective problem-solving skills.
The standing meeting can provide relief from the traditional round-table company gatherings and bring a much-needed fresh perspective on the way team meetings should be held.
They may seem quite easy to implement but there are certainly a couple of things to watch out for. We hope that this article gave you insight on how to properly conduct them and next time, everyone will be impressed and looking forward to the daily standups.