The Biggest Time Wasters in Standup Meetings

I’ve been in some pretty lame standup meetings in my day. When I think back to what made them so ineffective, I can see one common denominator—wasting time.

That’s really what most things come down to, isn’t it? “Am I gaining any value by being here?” If the answer is yes, we stay. If the answer is no, we leave (or in the case of employment, we stay and suffer through it).

But standup meetings don’t have to be ineffective. The problem is, they’re being run inefficiently, so what results is unproductive, unbeneficial to the team, and straight up boring. From my vantage point, teams waste time in standups in one of three ways:

#1 They Talk About the Wrong Things

It would seem that the prerequisite for implementing standup meetings on most teams is simply being able to stand up. No formal training or research about what a standup meeting entails necessary. Many teams make the mistake of meeting just to talk about what each person is going to do that day, repeating tasks from the day before, letting one person dominate the conversation, or (my personal favorite) people reading their calendars to you word-for-word. Before you know it, the meeting has lost its value, your employees are zoning out, and daily productivity is down.


Frame up the conversation by asking three simple questions of your team members each day. Asking these questions will not only keep people on track, but give your team more valuable information to complete their work:

  • What did you accomplish yesterday?
  • What are you planning to do today?
  • What challenges stand in your way?

More importantly, your team’s answers to these questions should be SMART. This is the old mnemonic that applies to goal-setting—making your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. It makes sense that these categories align well with daily standups because you’re essentially setting daily goals for you and your team.

#2 They Take Too Long

Standups are meant to be quick. That’s why we stand up instead of sit down. Yet, when the conversation gets off-track, it can result in rambling, side conversations, and (yet again) lost value for the rest of the team.

There are also situations where the team can do its best to stay on track, but they’re forced to go over the allotted time because one or more individuals were late to the meeting. Not only does this cause other individuals to be late to subsequent meetings, but it breeds angst on the team for creating unnecessary hurdles.



I recommend keeping standups between 10 and 15 minutes for the most effectiveness. (At the same time, be sure not to go too fast or you’ll miss relevant information.) To do this, make sure team members keep their report-outs succinct and that they stick to answering the three standup questions.

Additionally, it’s crucial that every member of the team is on time so that meetings are successful from start to finish. If multiple members of your team are finding it hard to make it on time, consider moving them back to a time that coincides with when your team starts its day. (For example, if your team generally gets started around 9:00 a.m., don’t hold meetings at 8:30 a.m. that they will inevitably be late for.) Regardless of when your standups actually begin, it’s important that they’re always at the start of the workday in order to have a common dialog before everyone hits the ground running.

#3 They’re Not Using the Right Tools

While face-to-face communication is always beneficial for teams, no one can possibly remember every day’s report-outs from each member of the team. And while handwritten notes may be helpful on an individual basis, they don’t provide a common source for all team members to look back at. Before you know it, you’re spending too much time tracking down status reports and not enough time working toward company goals.



Online standups combine the collaboration of standup meetings with the convenience and ease of the digital world. Instead of enduring the repetitiveness of mismanaged standups, you can focus each individual’s attention on answering the three SMART questions to better streamline the team’s priorities. What’s more, online standups make project statuses more definable and visible to the whole group, so the team is always on the same page.

No one likes meetings—especially recurring ones. But by honing your efforts and making your daily standups as succinct and effective as possible, your team can derive maximum value, stay on track, and achieve your team and company goals.

Unite your team with daily standups, make progress visible, and reach goals faster—all in minutes a day.