What does stand-up meeting mean?

Originally, stand-up meetings were supposed to be casual meetings held at the beginning of the workday for all employees in a company or team to attend.

The term “stand-up” came from everyone standing around a table, or the office kitchen, going around and listing daily accomplishments from the day before, and plans or updates for the day to come.

In all honesty, I’ve never been to a stand-up meeting in person at which I had to stand up, stand around and be in person with coworkers! This is because I work remotely, and have been working remotely with distributed teams at several companies throughout the years.

All of the stand-up meetings I’ve been a part of have been remote, over Zoom, Slack or Google Meet.

As for what a stand-up meeting really means, it’s a way to kick off the day, show leadership what you have been up to, and list out what you plan to get done. A daily standup meeting is a key way to avoid asynchronous communication and to get everyone in the same place (virtually) at the same time, talking about company updates.

Stand-ups are a good way for employees to hear about the progress updates of team members or colleagues in other departments, and it is a great way for a company to grow cohesively.

What is the purpose of daily stand-up meeting?

The purpose of a daily stand-up meeting is to keep all employees involved with taking ownership for their roles, their tactics and their strategies on a day to day basis.

I find that stand-up meetings have the following purposes, as I’ve experienced them:

  • Demonstrating my progress from the previous day
  • Listing out what I plan to get done and work on, presently
  • Denoting any ‘blockers,’ or items that I am waiting on before I can make progress
  • Important issues for myself and other coworkers to tackle ‘offline’ when the meeting ends
  • Show leadership my progress toward goals and new responsibilities I am picking up
  • Continually get exposure to the key items that my colleagues in other departments are working on

What do you do in a stand-up meeting?

In a stand-up meeting, each person has a few moments to list out their updates. Stand-up meetings can be done in a few ways, as I’ve experienced them.

In the first way:

  • Each colleague has a slot, in order, and each employee presents in the same order each day
  • For example, the CEO speaks first, followed by a VP, and etc. (This would be pertinent in small companies)
  • Each person has a time limit — maybe 60 seconds during which they have to say everything that comes to mind about their progress and goals!

In the second method:

  • There is no order of employees speaking; in fact, the method is a “hot potato” in which each person randomly picks the next person to speak.
  • This keeps everyone on their toes and involved for the duration of the standup! You never know when you’ll be chosen to go next.
  • There are no time limits, but each person should be cognizant of how long they are taking to speak, and hit the main points, main goals, main blockers and main updates.

Should companies have a daily stand-up meeting?

Depending on the size of a company a daily stand-up meeting may serve as a helpful way to meet and discuss progress and updates.

When I worked at a company of 100, and then 400 employees, a stand-up would not have really served anyone well. These companies are too big.

What may have worked well for companies of these larger sizes is a departmental standup. In fact, I wish my teams had configured stand-up meetings into our day to day routines! This could have helped with cohesiveness and alignment.

For smaller companies, a daily standup can help keep everyone on the same page, especially when it comes to company-wide topics.

When each employee is an individual contributor and when small companies have such big strides to make, a daily stand-up not only creates routine, but keeps everyone informed and team-oriented.

What’s a synonym for a stand-up meeting?

A synonym for a stand-up meeting could be a “daily meeting” or “morning meeting.”

One thing to note is that while it sounds similar, a stand-up meeting is not to be confused with an “all-hands meeting.”

An “all-hands meeting” typically means getting an entire company to meet at the same time for receiving major updates from leadership or executives. An all-hands meeting would not take place every day.

What should you say in a stand-up meeting?

In a daily stand-up meeting, there are a few key recommended things to say. I’ll detail here what I usually talk about in my daily stand-up:

  • The things I did yesterday, and if I had any issues
  • The things I did today, and the meetings I plan to attend
  • Denoting any blockers, or items on which I am waiting, in order to move forward with tasks or projects
  • A mention of any days out I’ll be taking in the next two weeks, or any hours out of the office I plan to have

Can a stand-up meeting have an agenda?

Stand-up meetings rarely have set agendas. This is because the main purpose of a stand-up meeting is to have each person in the organization or department speak for several moments or minutes.

A loose agenda might have announcements from a CEO in the first few minutes, followed by each employee giving his or her daily update.

The idea is to make the meeting productive so that no one loses focus. Everyone should leave the stand-up feeling motivated.

Why is a daily stand-up meeting so important?

To me, a daily stand-up meeting is important in order to feel like I am part of an organization constantly moving forward.

Now that I engage in daily stand-up meetings every day, and have done so for the past few years at several different companies, I can compare the experience of doing a daily stand-up to not doing a daily stand-up.

Daily stand-ups really help with teamwork, team goals and company culture. They can even start with social chit-chat in the minutes before everyone joins, which is great for feeling connected when working remotely.

This is for virtual stand-ups that take place with everyone reporting in from their home offices!

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