How to make efficient status meetings

Do you know these horrible status meetings? Every week, every two weeks or – when it is critical – 2x a week? Especially with multiple members? And you never know whether it’s important to go there or not? But you need to go there because there might be a relevant information?

The myth: “If there’s nothing to say, we can quickly close the meeting after 5min”. Seriously – I’ve not seen this happen very often. It quickly drifts into a common chitchat or Q&A. Don’t get me wrong: socializing is important – but a status meeting isn’t a socializing event.

I had a couple of such meetings in the past. When it was just one it was okay – but as I got involved into multiple projects, my schedule started filling up with such kind of meetings. And this became very unsatisfying as it sucked a lot of my time – and even worse: It sucked a lot of overall team-time!

My advice: GET RID OF THOSE MEETINGS / OF THIS MEETING STYLE!

By applying some simple rules such meetings can become ways more effective. but beware … discipline is required.

Preparation:

  • NO STATUS!
    A Status should be transparent in another system (like any Issue tracker / Todo / something – no need to go through that separately)
  • The agenda is in a shared document (Confluence, Wiki, OneNote, Word, Textfile, …) where every member can edit – not just the host – everyone! We don’t want no bottleneck!
  • If a member has a topic do discuss or an information to distribute: This person writes it into the agenda by him/herself in self-responsibility (example: “@name: my topic”).
  • You can also make this document available in a larger audience for transparency.
    Reason: This is raising trust; it allows others to follow and react upon a decision or information without additional post-meeting emails. Also, no fear of missing out (FOMO) in case of not attending.

Before the meeting:

  • No topic, no meeting! If there is no topic – CANCEL the meeting! REALLY!
    Everyone is thankful for the time that was freed.
  • Everyone quickly checks the agenda. May be a bullet point can already be clarified or discussed beforehand / bilaterally and doesn’t even need to go into the meeting. The result can be added directly into the agenda and is thus being distributed already.

During the meeting:

  • If there are multiple points: start with the clarification if there are topics that only a part of the members is interested in and move those topics to the end.
    Reason: some people can leave earlier!
  • The meeting is ONLY about topics in the agenda. ONLY. Everything else goes to the next meeting. This must be rigorously enforced! This is crucial!
    Reason: No fear of missing out (FOMO)! The agenda must be trustworthy and enables the next two (important) points:
  • Members only join the meeting if at least one topic of the agenda is relevant for the individual.
  • Everyone is allowed and encouraged to leave the meeting if the remaining bullet points are irrelevant (drop a quick “thanks, rest is irrelevant for me – I’m leaving” in the chat, so everyone knows that you were leaving intentionally and not just disconnected)

We do this since a couple of months. We follow these rules and have saved numerous hours of working time in the past! But it needs discipline – for sure.

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