Seven Quick Strategies for Effective Scrum Stand-Up Meetings

The daily stand-up meeting is an important component of the SCRUM process. It helps the whole team stay in-sync and up-to-date on what’s happening with the project, and it alerts everyone to blockers as soon as they become an issue. However, if you do a stand-up meeting wrong, it can become a real drag—and a time-waster.

Here are my strategies for keeping the stand-up meeting effective.

1. Keep It Short

Stand-up meetings should always last less than 15 minutes. Ideally, they wrap up in five minutes. This gives the team just enough time to check in, share updates, and identify next steps to resolve any blockers.

2. Start on Time

Think about it: If a meeting is meant to take less than 15 minutes, delaying the start by five minutes takes up a third of the meeting’s duration! In order to honor everyone’s time, I like to establish the team norm that stand-up starts on time, no matter who is or isn’t present—and we don’t backtrack or repeat ourselves if somebody joins late. It can be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, but people quickly adapt, and the meetings are much more engaging and efficient as a result.

3. Take & Share Notes

I recently joined a team that has a protocol of taking some quick notes during stand-up (typically one or two bullet points per team member) and posting them to Slack as soon as the meeting wraps up. I love this—it’s a low-friction way to have a valuable record of the team’s activities in case you need to reference something later, and it’s helpful for Strategy #2 because anyone who joins late or misses the meeting due to another appointment can catch up on what they miss.

4. Come Prepared

As I go about my day, I will often have a thought and say to myself, “I should address that tomorrow at team stand-up.” And then tomorrow comes, and I promptly forget the thing I wanted to address.

To fix this, I started writing these items on a sticky note affixed to my laptop. A couple of minutes before the meeting, I take time to review my sticky note and add any bullet points I need to share with the team. I’ve noticed other team members who have similar habits—and as a result, our stand-ups have become quicker, more concise, and more informative.

5. Speak Up

Some people’s indoor voices are louder than others, but nothing kills a good stand-up meeting like a team member who gives an update with a barely audible mumble—especially if anyone is participating remotely via phone or videoconference. If you tend to be more soft-spoken, use stand-up as an opportunity to practice projecting your voice a bit more, and speak slowly and clearly.

6. Don’t Derail

The stand-up meeting is not a time to solve issues, debate approaches to a problem, or teach somebody how to do something. A good rule of thumb is that if a question takes more than two sentences to answer and/or only involves a subset of the team, you should take it to a follow-up conversation. This conversation may immediately follow stand-up (if it’s quick), or you can schedule it for another time that’s agreeable to everyone involved.

7. Make it Fun

The most successful stand-up meetings I’ve attended have involved an element of fun–and this tends to vary depending on the team’s personality. For example, about a year ago, my project team was made up of people who all enjoyed yoga. Instead of actually standing during stand-up, we would choose a different (easy) yoga pose to do each day. Another team I’ve worked with has a silly chant they do at the end of each stand-up. Rituals like these promote team engagement and help keep the mood lighthearted.