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How To Run a Standup Meeting Remotely

May 12, 2020

This topic sparked in response to a conversation in the Mind The Product Slack communtiy.

The goals of a daily Standup meeting is to get a quick snapshot view of what work is being achieved, and if there are any blockers. They are not meant to be a space to foster long conversations discussing design or implementation options. Effective Standups should be conducted in ~15 minutes.

Running a Productive Meeting:

  • Make sure you have a set time for the meeting every day.

    • Send this out as a calendar invite with details to join the call included.
    • If your teams uses a tool like slack to communicate, set a reminder in slack so that teammates don’t forget to join. Usually typing /remind @[channelname] to join standup at [videolink] everyday at 10am will be enough to get that reminder setup.
  • Designate someone to “run” the meeting.

    • It’s wise to designate a backup incase the “runner” they can’t make the meeting, or is running late for some reason.
    • The runner can then share their update - check below for what the update should include.
    • The runner then goes through the list of people on the call so that they can share their updates too. All updates should be short and sweet.
    • Once the runner has gone through everyone on the call, they can open up the floor to any general questions, comments, concerns or announcements that need to be made.
  • End the call.

Calendar Invites and Regular Attendance is Important!

For these meetings to work, you need the whole team onboard with the concept. Reminders to join, especially if you’re new to doing standups, is a good way to start building that habbit.

The whole team should join the phone calls, but it’s especially important that the leaders in your team (manager, product manager, team lead, senior dev, etc) consistently show up to these meetings otherwise other team members won’t see the significance and will start dropping out too.

Runners Are Important!

It’s important to have someone running the meeting, that way you can get through everyone efficiently. You want to keep an eye out on conversations breaking out in your standup meeting. Asking a clarifying question or two is fine, but if it grows into a full blown conversation then suggest taking the conversation offline or effectively allocating another time for it.

Taking Notes during a Meeting

I’m a huge fan of notes, which are especially great incase some folks aren’t able to make every single meeting. I recommend creating a shared document that your team can access and either update individually before the standup, or update live during the standup.

What should be included in your Update?

Your update should give the team a glimpse into the work you’re doing and if youh have any blockers. Here are 3 questions that you should answer during your update:

  1. What work did I do since yesterday/the last meeting?
  2. What work am I doing between now and tomorrow/the next meeting?
  3. What am I stuck on or need help with?

That’s it! You officially have the knowledge needed to run effective standup meetings remotely. This same structure works for in-person meetings too.