A daily standup meeting (a.k.a. a daily "scrum" or "huddle") is a short meeting of between 10 and 20 minutes. Its purpose is to keep team members motivated and engaged by ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding work status, priorities, and blockers.
Standup meetings are part of the agile methodology, a way to manage projects by breaking them up into smaller stages and then emphasizing collaboration and shared updates at every stage.
Team members usually hold daily standups in the morning to share information on these key issues:
What they did yesterday
What they're doing today
What challenges they face
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to running a daily scrum (every team is different!), there are best practices you can employ to ensure it’s successful.
An effective standup meeting fosters team building and shares important updates that keep everyone engaged. 😊
An ineffective standup meeting wastes time as everyone disengages and goes through the motions without listening or contributing. 😖
Here are 11 daily-standup best practices every scrum team can follow to make their meetings productive and efficient:
11 best practices for efficient daily standup meetings
1. Keep the meetings short
As mentioned, a typical daily scrum meeting should last 10 to 20 minutes — anything longer misses the point of the exercise.
This means standups are not the place for deep discussion. You need enough time for everyone to share their progress and get tasks unblocked.
To keep it short and to the point:
Limit the number of people present; there’s no point inviting members of the sales team to a software development team standup
Make sure you follow the meeting agenda and that team members don’t ramble (use timers if needed!)
If someone faces a complex challenge, ask them to assess it in a separate meeting (and be sure to follow up quickly)
2. Make standups part of your routine (and host them early)
Since standup meetings need to be short, it’s crucial to stick to the schedule. If you’re doing them every day at 10AM, ensure team members know they have to join on time or it’ll start without them.
For teams deep into the agile methodology (we’re talking kanban boards, the works) skipping a daily meeting disrupts routines and hinders the whole agile process. So make these meetings mandatory, and record them for posterity (so if someone does have to miss them, they can go back later).
If possible, try to schedule your standup meetings for the morning — that way you don’t interrupt deep work that can happen in the afternoon.
3. Make meetings about the team
Standup meetings are about teamwork, so no one – not even a manager – should monopolize the conversation. If a meeting runs over, you should find out why and aim to prevent it from happening again.
Did someone speak for longer than necessary or go off-topic? Did everyone have blockers? Did the meeting start late?
Lay ground rules for every meeting on how long everyone should speak, to keep the discussion on track.
Also remember that when team members are speaking, they’re updating the team, not the manager or scrum master (who in a daily standup is essentially a facilitator). If a manager wants to discuss something specific, they can schedule a separate meeting.
4. Choose the right meeting tool
Using the right meeting tool is essential if you don’t want status meetings to be a waste of time.
When you’re conducting hybrid or fully virtual meetings, pick a modern meeting app like Vowel that can help you access and distribute knowledge shared during meetings.
With Vowel, you can plan discussion topics in an agenda, then quickly share it with all meeting attendees. Post-meeting, you'll get an automated meeting recap with notes, shared links, action items, and a searchable transcript.
Some companies have a mix of on-site and remote employees, while some have fully remote teams communicating asynchronously the majority of the time.
If you have remote and in-person workers, remote team members still need to be a part of your daily standup meetings. You can set it up as a hybrid meeting by having remote team members join via a video conferencing app. Or you can try hosting asynchronous standups over Slack or another tool.
6. Have a standard meeting structure
A standup meeting structure comes down to three questions:
What are you currently working on?
What are you working on next?
Are you facing any roadblocks?
Your standup meeting agenda can include other items if necessary, but keeping your team focused on these three questions is crucial. It will streamline your meeting and keep everyone on the same page.
7. Leave time at the end for action items and questions
While status updates are the “meat” of daily standup meetings, it’s a good idea to leave a minute or two at the end for action items and questions.
If you’re using a tool like Vowel, you can tag team members directly in action items in the shared notes panel, so there’s more team accountability. This is also the time where you can make note of follow-up meetings that may be needed to unblock certain team members.
8. Appreciate your team’s accomplishments
Speaking in front of a group or being questioned by them is a stressful experience for some people.
But we all like compliments, so here’s a great way to break the ice and make everyone feel comfortable: Mention team members’ accomplishments, great or small. It shows appreciation and makes people more comfortable with sharing at the meeting.
9. Assign a facilitator
If you’re an agile team, then you already have a scrum master who's responsible for facilitating the exchange of information between team members.
During huddles, scrum masters make sure that the meeting doesn’t get derailed and that discussions stay productive.
You might be practicing standups without going fully into the Scrum methodology. In that case, simply assign a team member to be the facilitator during your meetings to keep the agenda running on time and stop anyone from going over time.
10. Try (actually) standing up
For the duration of the standup meeting, ask the entire team to stand (even if they’re on video). It’s as simple as that. Remove chairs from the room if you have to.
Gif Source: Giphy
People only want to stand for so long, so everyone has an incentive to keep the meeting focused and short.
11. Keep it fresh
Sticking to a routine and agenda makes standup meetings short and sweet but recurring meetings can go stale if they never change.
Suddenly, your team is disengaged and offering platitudes instead of insight, just to get it over with. So fight staleness once in awhile with a few moments of something unexpected.
Have everyone start the meeting by sharing a show they’re watching or book they’re reading. Or, if you're in person, why not toss a ball around?
What you shouldn’t do in a standup meeting
For effective standup meetings, avoid:
Making tough decisions: Do your major problem-solving after the standup meeting. Don't spend more than 20 minutes getting status updates from people.
Getting bogged down in the deep stuff: Avoid lengthy debates during standups: they can easily throw team members off guard. Steer clear of in-depth explanations, feedback, and project descriptions. Be quick and stick to the point.
Debating the irrelevant: Have the meeting facilitator drive the meeting so you don’t waste time on stuff that can wait for another day.
Take your standup meetings to the next level
The daily scrum is a place to share updates and get quick and actionable insight into any impediments disrupting a team’s workflow.
That’s why you have to keep it short and to the point.
A great way to improve teamwork and your standup’s productivity is to use a smarter video-conferencing tool like Vowel.
Vowel allows you to make your daily standup meetings better and streamlined with features like:
One-click transcription and cloud recording, including the ability to add meetings to shared folders and easily search what was said
Talk time tracking and agenda timers, to make sure no one is talking more than they should be
Collaborative agendas (with timers!) that turn into the shared meeting notes, so everyone can see what’s going on and easily track questions and action items
Emoji reactions and hand raises, so participants can engage without interrupting or going off mute
Ready for better standup meetings (and all other types of meetings?). Sign up for Vowel for free!