Standup meetings — the meeting of choice in the tech and software development space — help a team understand what’s happening on a project, and tackle any challenges before they become issues.
In this guide, we’ll cover what a standup meeting is, what it involves, and how to get the best out of it. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have all the tips you need to run effective standup meetings.
What is a standup meeting?
The standup meeting originated in Agile team and Scrum team methodology as a way to quickly get an update on what’s happening within a project. However, marketing, sales, support teams, and other industries now use these meetings to give fast updates, identify blockers, and move forward. Originally, these meetings were in person and were meant to be fast enough everyone could stay standing — hence the name “standup.”
What to cover at a standup meeting
Standup meetings are meant to be short, usually lasting 5-10 minutes depending on how many people are on the team. Every daily standup meeting should have the same structure, so people can prepare accordingly.
In a typical standup meeting, each person shares:
- 🏆 What they’ve achieved
- 🎯 What their next target or goal is
- 🛑 What roadblocks or obstacles they’re dealing with
By focusing on these three key points, you keep the conversation on track, learn exactly what you need to know from each team member, and can return to your work faster.
You might have a set order for who speaks first, or you might randomly rotate through the group in a round robin format. Encourage everyone to arrive with their talking points and updates ready, so you can quickly move through each team member to learn what they’ve been working on.
8 expert tips to help you run better standup meetings
Whether standup meetings are already part of your routine and you want to improve them, or this is your first time running them, these tips will you stay on track:
1. Host the meeting the same day and time
The key to forming a positive habit is consistency. Help your team members know exactly when to show up and be prepared by hosting your standup meeting on the same time and working day each week or at the same time each day.
Following a set schedule helps your remote employees get ready ahead of your meeting. They’ll always be prepared with their status update, details about roadblocks, and ideas on how to overcome them ahead of the next meeting.
2. Keep to your agenda
Your meeting agenda is only three items long, so this meeting should be short. Stick to the standup questions above.
If you find yourself moving away from the agenda, or running over time, include some extra detail on the agenda. Confirm that the meeting only lasts for 15 minutes, and that anything beyond a quick status update should be shared elsewhere.
3. Assign someone to lead the meeting
If you want to stay organized and keep your standup meetings on track, assign someone to be the leader. This person is responsible for making sure everyone sticks to the agenda, keeps to time, and doesn’t derail the conversation.
It’s up to the leader to guide the meeting and make sure everyone gets the chance to speak. They should encourage anyone who’s speaking too long to wrap up so the next person has enough time to share. The leader can also steer the conversation back to the topic if people get distracted. Lastly, they can also share a quick recap and list of action items once the meeting ends.
4. Make the invitee list small
It’s important to have your whole team at your standup meeting, but that’s really the extent of the guest list. You shouldn’t invite stakeholders or the senior leadership team — the focus should be on discussing the work internally and moving it forward.
If having the entire team present makes your standup meeting last too long, consider other options — like asynchronous standups. Or, this may be a signal that you need more regular whole team meetings in addition to your standups.
You could also encourage people to keep their updates to only a couple of minutes, so there’s time for everyone to speak.
5. Try an asynchronous standup
When you’re working in a remote team or distributed team, it’s not always possible to get everyone together at the same time. Different time zones and workflows mean that sometimes an asynchronous stand up might be the best option.
Set up a channel within Slack or Microsoft Teams dedicated to your daily or weekly standup meeting. Instead of hosting the meeting in real time, team members can check in with their update and roadblocks whenever it suits their schedule. This is also a great way to make introverted employees feel welcome.
Use our daily standup template to get all the benefits of a daily standup meeting without the challenges.
6. Choose the right meeting software
Not all video conferencing software is built the same. Some are designed for simple video calls, while others offer you addons and features that turn the video conference room into a more interactive space.
Think about what you’ll need to share at your standup meeting, then look for software that suits it. Integrations like Miro for Zoom allow you to share virtual whiteboards and kanban boards easily, while the Polly app for Zoom lets you integrate polls for faster decision making.
7. Keep your updates short
The goal of a standup meeting is to get all participants to share a quick status update, identify roadblocks, collaborate through problem solving, and share what everyone is working on next. A common mistake is that these meetings turn into longer team meetings, when they should be a short status meeting.
Encourage your team members to check in, share their update, and then move on to the next person. If you’re finding it hard to keep to time or people won’t stick to the agenda, send a reminder of what the purpose of your daily or weekly standup meeting is so there’s no confusion. Let them know that you can go more into detail about their topic another time.
8. Host a discussion meeting afterwards if you need to
Some items will need a further discussion or follow up conversation. To help your main meeting go as planned, create space afterwards that you can use to discuss roadblocks or challenges in more detail.
Host a separate discussion after your standup so the rest of the team can return to working on their goals. You can talk about the issue or idea in more depth, and there’s no interruption to everyone else’s workflow or schedule.
Host better standup meetings for your team
Your standup meetings should feel organized, concise, and purposeful. They’re an opportunity to update the team, seek support, and share what you’re working on — without interrupting the flow of the day too much.
Use this guide to help you plan and run better standup meetings for your remote team. Take advantage of technology like Polly to help you keep your team standups on schedule. With Polly as your co-pilot, those daily standups and retrospectives can become smoother and more effective than ever.
Try Polly for free to instantly improve your employee engagement.
Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.