How to Improve Your Daily Online Standup Meetings
Daily online standup meetings have become an essential tool to help team members share their status updates and get clear on what’s expected of them for the day or week.
However, as more companies are going remote, such meetings have led to several new challenges, such as communication gaps, different time zones, technical issues, etc.
If you’re new to the online standup meeting format or looking to communicate with your remote team effectively, here are some best practices to keep in mind.
Decide a fixed time
Whether you choose to conduct daily or weekly standup meetings, try to follow a routine. Start them at the same time every day on the same platform, without waiting for any latecomers.
Also, make sure to consider your team’s needs. After all, it can be challenging to set aside a few minutes each day for a meeting when you’re working on your own deadlines.
Before deciding on a routine, ask the following questions:
- What’s the best and earliest time that is convenient for all employees?
- At what time are people usually busy with critical tasks throughout the day?
Furthermore, make sure your meeting times are aligned with the time zones that your employees are in, so the entire team is present. If daily standups are impossible due to different time zones, try doing a weekly status update meeting all team members can commit to.
Set a time limit
Standup meetings are a part of professional lives. But, that doesn’t mean they should take most of your day, leaving you with no time to focus on important tasks.
Research suggests that professionals spend 4 hours per week preparing for status update meetings. Further, 67% of employees spend more than ten hours a week in unproductive meetings.
These numbers are huge.
The goal here is to keep your standup meetings as short as possible. Make sure they last only for 15 minutes, at most. Since the purpose of standup meetings is to share status updates and obstacles, each team member should be given time to speak for up to one minute.
If you notice the standup meeting is starting to get longer, this could mean that participants aren’t communicating effectively. Furthermore, if there’s a topic that needs long discussion, communicate the same after the meeting with the people involved.
Run focused meetings
The main objective of a standup meeting is to keep every participant focused on a common goal.
It’s easy to get distracted in a daily online standup meeting, especially when there’s a lot to discuss. So, the goal here is to maintain the focus of the meeting so that everyone is on the same page.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Assign a meeting leader or facilitator who will start and end the meeting.
- Communicate the goals to all the participants before the meeting.
- Share critical updates on work-related tasks and projects. If you want to get into details of each task, share them with the follow-up emails.
- If you get confused with a topic that’s not concerned with other team members, it’s better to take that up later with the concerned person.
- Ask questions related to the pre-planned agenda.
Choose a reliable tool
How often does it happen that a team member joins the meeting late or cannot participate because they didn’t have the right video conferencing software?
It can happen many times if you conduct standup meetings on different platforms every day. In fact, using different software in every session won’t take your meeting anywhere.
So, the need is to choose the same reliable conferencing tool that not only avoids confusion and saves time but also comes loaded with all the features the meeting requires.
There are dozens of conferencing software to choose from—some are easy-to-use, more intuitive, and reliable than others. You need to select a tool that aligns well with your organization’s needs.
If you want to conduct a short webinar to educate your employees, LiveWebinar can be an excellent choice.
Remember: No software is perfect. When your internet connection drops, the video might appear blurry, and the voice will break.
So, it’s better to make necessary preparations before the meeting starts. Also, make sure your employees are well-versed in using the required video conferencing tool. If not, record a tutorial or conduct a webinar to explain them the smallest details.
Consider asynchronous communication
One of the most common challenges remote workers face is the lack of communication, especially when they’re scattered around different time zones. When you’re not face-to-face with your team, it can be difficult to keep a check on them and update them about the progress of upcoming tasks.
Conducting a daily standup meeting for remote teams as per a specific time zone is hard when one teammate is sleeping peacefully just as another is coming back from their evening stroll.
Enter: asynchronous communication.
It is a type of communication where two or more people communicate without expecting an immediate response. Instead of asking employees to be present at the same time, you give them the flexibility to choose their working hours.
If your workers are distributed worldwide, it’s a great idea to ask for daily updates on the asynchronous channels. For example, if you send an email asking for an update regarding the assigned task, rather than expecting an immediate response, you understand that they are busy with work and will respond later.
Tools like Slack, Gmail, Microsoft Team, and Google Workspace can make asynchronous standup meetings much more efficient.
Let everyone speak
A standup meeting is a great way to connect remote employees and keep them in the loop about the project. But, if the employees don’t engage properly, the entire purpose of the meetings is lost.
The goal here is to ensure your standup meeting doesn’t become yet another meeting where you and the meeting facilitator are talking to each other rather than engaging with the team.
To help combat this, make sure that all the team members get ample opportunity to talk about what’s on their minds—whether it’s discussing their plans with other team members, updating them on the progress of what they’re working on, or answering questions related to the upcoming tasks.
If your team members aren’t participating, try to understand why. Is it due to the different time zones? Is the video quality poor? Maybe the schedules don’t line up correctly.
Remember: No one should dominate the meeting. Every participant should get the chance to share relevant information as concisely as possible.
Have some fun
Attending daily standup meetings can get monotonous pretty quickly—the same people talking about the same topics at the same time. It makes it hard for team members to remain engaged, and they often zone out and miss critical information.
But, it doesn't have to be like that.
Injecting a little bit of fun in your standup meetings can go a long way in boosting the interest level of employees, lighten their mood, and make everyone feel comfortable.
Here's how you can do it:
- Play a song to signal the start of the meeting
- Use alliterations, such as "Hope you have a thrilling Thursday, everyone", or "All of you have a fantastic Friday", to end your meetings.
- Share a funny joke, meme, GIFs, or experience to kick off the meetings.
- Highlight the team accomplishments or milestones where employees have gone the extra mile and accomplished something important.
- A thought-provoking, inspirational quote at the end of the meeting can be an excellent way to keep your team members motivated throughout their day.
- Encourage your team members to show gratitude towards each other after a task has been completed.
- Talk to each other casually. For example, on Monday, you can ask about each other's weekend. Or, ask them about what they are looking forward to achieving in the coming week.
- Share and collect feedback on what is happening in the company.
While these strategies might sound small, you can't imagine how they can help make standup meetings not appear like any other dreaded task.
Online standup meetings are significant for a business, especially in a remote setup where it’s easy to lose track.
Done right, they can help employees remain updated about the daily happenings and figure out how to accomplish the business goals. Plus, it can also foster meaningful relationships among team members.
Make sure your daily standup meetings follow the right structure from the above checklist. Start with creating a routine to be followed every day. Don’t stretch the sessions for too long unless you want to bore your team members to sleep.
Keep them focused so that employees can keep track of what’s happening in the organization. Plus, such daily reports can help them assess their performance and find solutions to their problems.
Let everyone participate and share their views. Doing so will make your team feel engaged, focused, and ready to get to work.