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Stand Up Meetings: What Are They and How to Make Them Effective

In their 2019 State of Meetings Report, Doodle reported that the United States wasted approximately $399 billion on poorly organized meetings. On top of the financial impact, 44% of study respondents stated that unorganized meetings left them with fewer hours in the day to accomplish their work tasks.

These long, drawn-out meetings—that likely could have been resolved through email—waste company funds and employee time, resulting in an unproductive, unmotivated workforce.

To combat this common problem, companies are starting to experiment with stand up meetings.

What are Stand Up Meetings?

Stand up meetings are exactly what they sound like—everyone who is physically able stands throughout the duration of the meeting. However, they are never to exceed 15 minutes.

Teams often use these meetings to review the status of projects, discuss tasks, and identify new opportunities or challenges. From daily check-ins to project launches, stand up meetings can be instituted throughout an organization.

The 5 Key Benefits of Stand Up Meetings

Although it may seem odd at first, switching your team’s meeting style can yield several advantages. Stand up meetings tend to provide benefits such as:

1. Rapid Problem Flagging

As employees share updates about their progress and task load, they’ll also mention any troubles they’re having or issues they’ve noticed.

By presenting these problems during a stand up meeting, teams ensure that crucial issues aren’t lost in an email inbox with the risk of remaining unaddressed or remedied. Employees will leave the meeting with the problem on their mind and work to fix it ASAP.

2. Reduced Turnaround Times

Often, project slowdown is the direct result of miscommunication and an overload of notifications and emails. Through project updates shared in a regularly scheduled stand up meeting, teams can reduce turnaround and overall project completion times significantly.

In addition, project managers and team members will have a continuous understanding of each project status, leading to higher-quality results and outputs.

3. Healthy and Engaged Employees

Since stand up meetings are short and to the point, you won’t have to worry about losing your employees’ attention span. These quick meetings provide everyone with the opportunity to say their part and move on to the next item. Keeping this momentum enables employees to stay engaged and productive throughout the day.

Additionally, stand up meetings help improve the mental and physical well-being of employees. Research shows that office workers sit for approximately 7.7 hours a day. This lack of physical activity leads to weight gain, a weakened immune system, and hormonal imbalances. If standing for a quick 15 minutes each day can help your employees stay healthy and productive, it’s worth it!

4. Clear Team Communication

Miscommunication happens all the time. From email threads to Slack notifications and misremembered phone calls, a single communication error could derail the progress of an entire project

Regularly scheduled stand up meetings provide employees the chance to communicate with one another face-to-face. Rather than relying on poorly worded Slack updates, team members can discuss projects without barriers or miscommunication. This ensures that all teams are aligned and ready to move forward with the tasks at hand.

5. Cognitive Offloading

We all experience work-related stress and anxiety about everything, from priority projects to daunting tasks. We think about these tasks all day long, regardless of the other responsibilities on our plate, making us less productive in the long run.

Stand up meetings for team “check-ins” enable employees to participate in what is known as cognitive offloading. By simply talking about their concerns and problems, employees actively reduce the amount of cognitive stress or worry they carry around throughout the day. As a result, they free up their mind to focus on their work and utilize more brainpower for productive work.

What You Need for a Successful Stand Up Meeting

Similar to regular meetings, you’ll need a few things to run an effective stand up meeting.

A Productive Space

Start by identifying a productive space where your in-office teammates can meet. This could be by a particular cubicle or in a specific conference room.

So long as there’s enough room for everyone to stand comfortably and you’re not disrupting other teams, most spaces will do the trick.

Scheduled Calendar Invites

Send out calendar invites that sync with each teammate’s calendar app. Most project management software suites have this capability and allow you to update meeting details as necessary.

Video Conferencing Software

Remote teams can participate in stand up meetings, too! Whether your team is partially distributed or fully remote, a quality video conferencing platform is key for a successful virtual stand up meeting.

Find a video conferencing tool with collaborative features such as screen and file sharing, chat functions, and more for the best results.

An Agenda

Develop and distribute an agenda before each stand up meeting. This gives your team time to prepare their thoughts before the meeting and keeps conversations within the 15-minute timeframe.

Assign a Meeting Host

Identify a person to act as the host of each meeting. This person is responsible for distributing the agenda, keeping things moving along, and ensuring that team members understand the parameters of the meeting.

Additionally, they are also in charge of the follow-up message and materials sent after each meeting.

How to Host Effective Stand Up Meetings

Meetings can either be productive or a massive waste of time. Use these pointers to organize and execute efficient stand up meetings.

Stand Up!

Nope, it’s not silly office lingo. You and your team are going to stand throughout the whole meeting. After all, studies have shown that workers who sit less and move more throughout the day are more productive than those who don’t.

Standing for the entire meeting also helps enforce the 15-minute duration policy.

Meetings Should Not Last More than 15 Minutes

The purpose of stand up meetings is to have a quick, efficient chat with your team. Go any longer than 15 minutes, and you’re on the verge of hosting a full-fledged, sit down meeting.

Long meetings are the top killer of productivity in offices. The goal of a stand up meeting isn’t to discuss every topic at length, but rather to align everyone on tasks and ongoing initiatives.

If you find your stand up meetings are going beyond the time limit, start using a timer to keep everyone on track. Once your 15 minutes are up, that’s it!

Find the Right Schedule for Your Team

The frequency of stand up meetings will vary from team to team. Some may need daily meetings to review their heavy workload, while weekly overview meetings will suffice for others.

Experiment with different meeting schedules to find what works best for your team. We recommend starting with twice-a-week meetings and adjusting the frequency from there.

The trick is to find a schedule that motivates your team and does not hinder their productivity while keeping your projects and tasks on track.

Assign a Meeting Goal

Have you ever been in a meeting that has no clear purpose or agenda? Employees ramble on and accomplish next to nothing as a result.

To prevent your stand up meetings from becoming a burden on productivity, determine a goal for each meeting. Doing so gives your team a clear understanding of what should be achieved within 15 minutes.

Of course, the goal for these meetings will depend on the team conducting them. For instance, a project team could use stand up meetings as a weekly progress report opportunity. Or, your C-Suite team could meet to discuss an overview of new company-wide opportunities.

The best way to communicate this goal is through an agenda. Provide each meeting attendee with an agenda several hours before the meeting is scheduled to begin. This conveys your objective and enables team members to prepare accordingly.

Table Large Topics for a Later Date

Of course, not all topics are fit for a 15-minute meeting. Broader concerns, such as internal issues, will have to be tabled for a later date when you can schedule a longer meeting.

Additionally, as your team members provide progress updates and identify challenges, conversations about those topics will arise. If the issue or discussion cannot be resolved immediately or within the stand up meeting timeframe, tell employees to table the conversation. Harping on these discussion points takes up time and puts a crunch on other imperative agenda items.

You can always schedule an additional stand up meeting with those involved to remedy the issue or continue the conversation.

Adapt for Remote Employees and Teams

With the growing trend in remote work and new restrictions caused by COVID-19, stand up meetings need to adapt to include those who work from home. Fortunately, with collaborative video conferencing tools readily available, teams can have a stand up meeting regardless of location.

The key to effectively hosting a remote stand up meeting is to keep the same core principles in place but also utilize collaborative features such as screen sharing, file uploads, and chat features to allow everyone to engage.

Since remote teams are often distributed around the country or the globe, keep timezones in mind when scheduling your virtual stand up meetings. Find a time that works for your team’s various locations and work schedules and does not interfere with their productivity.

And, while you can’t all stand in the same place at once, you should still encourage remote employees to stand and get the blood moving!

Always Follow Up

After each stand up meeting, follow up on all items discussed or listed on the agenda. In this message, you can also list items that you intend to include in the next meeting.

Sending a follow-up email puts your team all on the same page moving forward. There’s no confusion about what was discussed, which tasks were assigned, and what the next steps are for each employee.

Maintain a Consistent Schedule and Structure

Maintaining consistency will help your team establish a routine and effectively monitor their productivity levels. By altering the meeting time or format each week, you demonstrate that those meetings are not a priority and can be altered at will.

After a few trial meetings, you’ll begin to discover the meeting schedule and structure that works best for your team. Once this is locked in, do not deviate from it.

Next Steps: Planning Your First Stand Up Meeting

Convincing your team to embrace the concept of a stand up meeting can be difficult, especially if you’re not in a leadership role at your company.

If you think a stand up meeting format would be beneficial for your team, follow these steps to get started:

Discuss the Idea with Your Team Members

There’s power in numbers, right? If you suggest the idea of a stand up meeting to some of your co-workers, they may also find the concept intriguing and beneficial for the team.

Start by discussing the benefits of stand up meetings, including team building and productivity boosts. As your team begins to see the value in this meeting style, bring up the idea of pitching it to your manager or team leader to try out.

Ask for a Trial Meeting

Instead of pushing the idea of a stand up meeting onto your team, ask them to participate in a trial meeting with you. You’re likely to garner more engagement by taking this approach than by forcing the idea upon your team.

Embrace Feedback

After a trial meeting or two, request feedback from your colleagues. Do they like the stand up meeting format? What would they change moving forward?

As you go on, continue to ask your team for feedback. The more you can fine-tune your meeting structure, frequency, and goals, the more productive your team will be as a result of stand up meetings.

Try Stand Up Meetings With Your Team

Do you think stand up meetings will empower your team to be more productive and efficient? Keep our tips in mind, and try it out with GlobalMeet Collaboration!

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