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Frans Riemersma, 02 Feb '17

Keep Your Team Meetings Below 30 Minutes

6 tiny tweaks help your team to say more in less time. Turn your weekly status meetings into energizing speed-dating sessions.

Up your your team productivity. Did you know your team meetings can be improved tremendously?

  • Finish weekly strategic updates in less than 30 minutes.
  • Boost employee self-management and goal ownership
  • Create higher team involvement and collaboration outside the meeting.

Impossible, you say? We’ve been perfecting our own Daily and Weekly Standups for the past four years. And the results are… what’s the word…. astonishing!

The results in one sentence: we saved tons of time, and increased the number of people attending.

  • We reduced weekly team meetings from 2 hours to 45 minutes within a few weeks time.
  • We reduced daily stand ups from 1 hour to 15 minutes  within a few weeks time.
  • Oftentimes 100% of our team members showed up. Above 90% was the standard, dialing in from abroad if they could.
  • Members from other teams started to show up since it was the quickest way to align with our activities. It was simply quicker and more complete than coffee machine chats or smoking breaks.
  • Logically, ad hoc meetings outside the standups were reduced by 70%.

Setting up the perfect daily standup will transform your company. As goal alignment increases over time, so will employee engagement. More laughter. More energy.

You’ll notice how team members start to feel comfortable talking about one priority at a time. Like a true leader, owning their territory.

It’s the opposite is what you see everywhere else. Meetings lack structure and priorities are unclear, and become finger-pointing sessions.

What starts as a tactical discussion will soon turn into a complaining free-for-all where no actual decisions are made. Inevitably, teams will feel disempowered and hesitant to attend future meetings.

It’s the manager’s job to structure meetings in a way that makes them valuable and fun to attend.

Imagine your team members eagerly flocking to your meeting, immediately cutting to the chase and giving sharp updates on the goings-on. Team members may even invite other departments over.

The secret behind productive meetings

Let me give you a hint. Stats show that it’s critical to keep presentation short, both in terms of duration and number of slides. People’s attention levels decrease 42% when a meeting takes over 45 minutes.

Gail Matthews did some hardcore research and learned the key moves to increase the likelihood of teams achieving their goals.

  • Formulate action commitments
  • Visualize progress reports
  • Share goals to a supportive friend

Our recipe for ‘perfect status meetings’ integrates all these ingredients.

Note. The contrast with the tedious yet chaotic ‘strategic meetings’ of old may take a while for some to get used to. As inspiring as the end product is, don’t expect results overnight.

Observe and highlight the small behavioral improvements in a few weeks. The shift to structured, goal-oriented status meetings is like learning to walk. Wobbly at first, firm in the end. Some will walk sooner than others. That is fine. Good behaviour is contagious. The rest will follow.

How did we do that? Improving team meetings starts with keeping them compact and relevant. We managed to do so following 6 easy-to-implement tweaks. It’s time to take your ‘Daily’ to the next level.

You can make that happen by using these tweaks.

6 daily standup tweaks

#1. Pick a fixed place and time to meet every week.

  • Create a dependable meeting rhythm for members to rely on.
  • If business is hectic and unpredictable, there’s always the team meeting to get your bearings.

#2. Prioritize and talk about one thing only

  • Train members to select and highlight no more than one client, roadblock, topic or issue per meeting.
  • Don’t go through a list of tasks mindlessly, but focus on identifying priorities. No need to become (overly) complete.
  • Managers can use 1 on 1’s to coach members who struggle to prioritize goals at first.

#3. Make goals visual to gain an overview

  • Ask members to always include an overview of all goals, on one screen. It’ll clarify how their goal relates to others, and how each goal adds up to the achievement of a bigger company-wide goal.
  • Make sure all team members update their progress in one and the same tool, displaying it on one screen with one person controlling it. This prevents people wasting time switching cable plugs and killing momentum.

#4. Grant people the freedom to set their own goals

  • When you’ve got a clear picture of how goals relate to each other, setting your own goals becomes a lot less daunting. And it gives members a great sense of purpose. Invite members to present a goal they think is important for the company, the project, or their personal development.
  • People may also choose to share success or to give updates on any other strategically significant issues – good news or bad news.

#5. Limit presentation time to 3 minutes

  • Assign someone to track time and set an alarm, just to make sure people don’t slip back into their old habits.
  • Think of weekly meetings as speed-dates rather than hour-long discussions.
  • This time can also be used to ask others to help out removing potential roadblocks, to be discussed in more detail during ‘stay after’ meetings.

#6. Stop any discussion

  • Throughout the status meeting, let the presenter speak.
  • When presenters talk, everybody else listens. This is their 3 minutes of fame.
  • This is not the time for discussion or disqualification.

Start your own ‘perfect status meeting’ now

The benefits of holding periodic status meetings are profound, but setting them up is easier than you might think.

Make sure you introduce the 6 tweaks gradually in your team meetings. You will surely see a behaviour change and productivity increase. That’s all there is to it.

There is a simple way to visualize how all goals presented in status meetings interlock, and how they evolve over time…. Start using the Boardview goal tree and infographic.

Boardview Infographic:

Try Boardview for FREE now.