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Stand-up or Scrum meetings by definition must be compact and concise in order to coordinate and plan the team’s daily activities. The rule for stand-up meetings is 15 minutes or less. Crisp meeting etiquette and a few rules are mandatory for stand-ups to be effective. The short list of rules for every stand-up meeting is: show up on time, stand and minimize distractions.

Showing up to the stand-up meeting on time sends a message to your fellow teammates that you take the meeting and their updates seriously. Getting to the meeting late and then rehashing topics that have been discussed reduces effectiveness and efficiency. Holding the meeting first thing every day makes it easier to avoid scheduling conflicts, however this can be very difficult for everyone on a geographically distributed team. Regardless of when the meeting is held, everyone on the team needs to commit to being on time.

The goal of having people stand during the stand-up meeting is many-fold. First, by standing, we allow energy to freely flow throughout our bodies, which improves thought and communication. And while that might sound a bit too zen-like, research has shown that standing helps you stay more alert and forces you to take a more active role. Secondly, and perhaps more pragmatically, standing is a little uncomfortable, which helps everyone involved to focus.  When the participants are sitting they tend to get overly comfortable and wander off topic. Sometimes I remove the chairs from the office I am using for the daily stand-up. Note: it is very difficult to hold a stand-up while driving a car.

Distractions come in many flavors, including ringing cell phones, laptops, random passersby, rock bands in the next office and participants updating project management tools during the meeting, just to name a few. While it is important to hold the meeting in the same place every day, if the location is noisy or crowded on one day out of five, move the meeting.  If your stand-up meeting location has a door then close it, and if does not have a door, take the responsibility to find a quiet, low-traffic place to hold the meeting.

The effectiveness and efficiency of the daily stand-up meeting is greatly improved by embracing some simple meeting etiquette.  Simply put – be on time, stand up (even if you are on the phone) and turn off anything that could distract you from the conversation.  Most people can stand and avoid responding to email for 15 minutes a day!

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