What Is a Stand-Up Meeting and How to Run One Successfully

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

If you work as a team, ensuring your meetings are as productive as possible can help increase efficiency at work. One way to do this is by holding stand-up meetings. Learning more about stand-up meetings and how to run them can help you decide whether they suit your needs. In this article, we answer the question, "What is a stand-up meeting?" explain the benefits of stand-up meetings, tell you how to run one, and offer tips for holding a successful meeting.

Related: How to Make a Meeting Agenda: Tips, Template, and Example

What is a stand-up meeting?

To answer the question, "What is a stand-up meeting?" it's important to know agile methodology first. The agile methodology is a type of project management, typically used in software development, that breaks projects up into phases. These phases are typically planning, executing, and evaluating. Constant collaboration is important in every stage to ensure teams are working efficiently together and one method of collaboration in the agile methodology is stand-up meetings.

Stand-up meetings are short team meetings held on foot. Teams typically hold them daily to check in with each other and go over the tasks they finished, are currently working on, and plan to work on next. This ensures everyone is working towards the same goals and stays on track with the tasks they need to complete each day.

Benefits of a stand-up meeting

Although stand-up meetings tend to be the most popular among software development teams, they are useful in any industry. Stand-up meetings help teams connect with each other quickly, saving time while still communicating effectively. Stand-up meetings are typically five to 15 minutes long, so everything you discuss is relevant and important. This is a great way to ensure everyone always understands what's going on with the project, improving collaboration and encouraging positive team building.

Related: How to Build a Collaborative Team in an Organization

How to run a stand-up meeting

If you want to implement stand-up meetings at your work, follow these steps to do so:

1. Pick a recurring time

The first step in running a stand-up meeting is choosing when and how often it occurs. Many teams choose to have stand-up meetings every day since they're so short, but every other day or once a week can also be a good option for you. Consistency is important with stand-up meetings, so once you decide how often you want to hold them, pick a recurring time to do so.

It's often best to hold your stand-up meeting at the start of the workday so everyone knows what tasks to work on. But if your entire team, or a portion of it, works remotely, the start of the day may be different for everyone. Choose a five to 15-minute time slot when most people are available, even if it's later in the day, so you leave no one out from the meeting. Once you pick a time that works, keep to it so everyone knows when to attend.

2. Ensure everyone can participate

It's important to make your stand-up meetings as inclusive as possible so everyone can easily attend. If you all work together in an office, choosing a boardroom to hold your meetings is easy. But if you work remotely, or a portion of your team does, you need technology so everyone can connect. Your team can join the meeting by telephone, video conference, or even by online chat.

Another thing to consider when making your meetings inclusive is your employees with physical challenges. The main point of a stand-up meeting is that it's quick and productive, so, despite its name, not everyone has to be standing. Some employees may have physical disabilities that prevent them from standing or standing for long periods of time, so ensure they can sit down during each meeting. Employees working from home can also sit when attending the meetings.

3. Assign a leader

To ensure stand-up meetings are productive and stay on track, having a leader is important. Leaders are typically department heads or project managers, but stakeholders that know a lot about the project can also lead a meeting. The leader can change, but all attendees should always know who the leader is so they can address their questions or concerns accordingly. Rotating leadership can also be beneficial as it helps your team observe different perspectives, improves engagement, and ensures everyone feels included.

4. Create an agenda

Since stand-up meetings are so short, creating an agenda ahead of time can help keep the meeting on track and ensure you cover everything you want to discuss. Typically, stand-up meetings consist of each team member answering the following questions:

  • What did I accomplish yesterday?

  • What will I accomplish today?

  • What obstacles, if any, am I facing?

This may only take a few minutes at the start of each meeting, so write a list of any other topics you want to cover, announcements you want to make, or questions you want to ask. Refer to your list throughout the meeting to ensure you don't forget anything.

Related: How to Write an Effective Meeting Agenda (With a Template and Example)

5. Stop unrelated discussions

Even in a short amount of time, you may find your team straying from the main point of the meeting. If you're the leader and notice this happening, it's important you re-focus the discussion as soon as possible. This ensures you can discuss information that's relevant to the success of your team. To keep your meeting on track, consider one of the following strategies:

  • Write any unrelated topics team members bring up on a whiteboard. Then, invite those interested to stay after the meeting to further discuss each topic.

  • Schedule an additional meeting to discuss those topics if necessary. This allows you to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to any questions or concerns team members have.

  • Post the topic on another forum, such as your group email or chat, so team members can discuss it among themselves.

6. Distribute next steps

Before the meeting, assign a minute taker. They don't need to record detailed minutes as the meeting is so short. Instead, they can note any important information and next steps your team needs to take. For example, if you ask a specific team member to research a question, the minute taker can note this task, allowing you to address the question in the following meeting.

Related: How to Take Meeting Minutes: a Step-Wise Approach

Tips for a successful stand-up meeting

To ensure your stand-up meetings are consistently successful and productive, try implementing some of the following tips:

Choose an order of speaking

Although you already chose a team leader, choosing an order of speaking is also important. This helps the meeting run smoothly and allows everyone to talk and contribute to the meeting. There are a number of ways to choose who starts and continues the discussion, for example:

  • The leader starts, and the person on the right or left continues.

  • Whoever holds a symbolic item, such as a baton, gets to talk, then passes it to the teammate of their choice.

  • Assign an agenda item to each member to discuss.

  • Start and continue the discussion by hierarchy. For example, the department head starts, then the project manager continues.

Limit your meetings to small teams

To ensure your meetings remain focused and efficient, limit them to a handful of attendees. Teams of 10 or less are typically ideal as everyone gets a chance to talk and bring up any concerns they have. If your team is bigger, consider holding separate meetings to maximize your time.

Schedule the meeting at an unconventional time

Consider scheduling your meeting at an unconventional time, such as 9:33 am or 10:47 am. This makes the meeting time more memorable, increasing attendance and participation. If you aren't sure what time to schedule your meeting, ask your team for their input.

Start with a physical activity

Although most, if not all, attendees are standing during the meeting, starting with a short physical activity can help everyone focus. Consider simple exercises, such as jumping jacks or squats, to help energize your team. This also gives latecomers a chance to enter the meeting without missing much.

Discuss topics by priority

When creating your meeting agenda, organize your topics by priority. The topics that are most important should go to the top of your list to ensure you cover them within the short timeframe of the meeting. This ensures you can address any important questions or concerns quickly and then you can address anything you didn't get to discuss during the next meeting.

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