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The Number One Way to Improve Your Daily Stand Up

by Emily Iwankovitsch Social Media Marketing Manager

Ah, the daily stand up. Often characterized by limited time, uncertainty, and incomplete information... but it doesn’t need to be this way.

Let’s define it first in a nutshell: “A daily stand up is a daily meeting of maximum 15 minutes, where the team members discuss their progress and possible impediments towards reaching the team’s goal.” Now, how can we improve stand ups and other team meetings?

Unfortunately, only about 8% of leaders are good at aligning strategy with execution, and the goal here is to avoid creating a messy situation around priorities. Stand up meetings should not be simply a list of every single thing people plan to work on in the day, nor should they be an in-depth back-and-forth with one other team member (this can happen after). It is unfortunately true that stand ups are seen increasingly as a waste of time.

An effective stand up is about the common goal(s) you’re working toward as a team — a focused plan to align with your colleagues.

How can you best communicate that together, as a team? What is the number one thing you can do to instantly improve your team meetings?

How to Instantly Improve Team Meetings

Research shows that to make the team more productive, everyone in the team should, over time, speak roughly the same amount of time.

Charles Duhigg, a journalist and author of “Smarter Faster Better” spent time working with Google’s Project Aristotle team [Google’s two-year project aimed at uncovering what characteristics make up the perfect team], and he says it doesn’t matter who is on a team so much as how those people interact. “In order for a team to achieve psychological safety, there are two characteristics that matter most: Equality in conversational-turn taking, or when everyone speaks roughly the same amount during a meeting; and ostentatious listening, or when members of a team demonstrate they are actively listening by repeating what has just been said. [It’s] the single greatest correlate with a group’s success.”

Related reading: 3 Tips to Run Effective Virtual Meetings 

Now consider the role of the meeting facilitator. Unfortunately, research from Viktoria Stray et al. shows that “When the facilitator had a personal interest in the status of specific tasks, they often gave more attention to team members working on these tasks, leading to an unbalanced contribution from the team members in the meeting.” They continue, “We observed that people who talked early were given the time they wanted, while the people who talked last were cut short because the meeting was approaching the time limit.”

How can this be fixed? Stray et al. writes, “Facilitators need to be conscious about allotting equal time to all participants. They must be aware of how the allocation of who speaks when during the meeting affects the conversation flow. Try out both an approach where the tasks on the board are discussed, and a round-robin approach.”

Companies have taken a variety of approaches to remedy this. Computas shares, “When we have standups in the office, we usually start with a more or less random person and then the talking order continues to the person standing next to them. But, as many other companies, everyone works from home these days, and there isn’t a natural ‘talking order’ anymore. What we started doing in my team is to ‘nominate’ the next person to talk.”

What if… you didn’t have to do that?

Because now, you don’t — and you can still achieve equality in conversational-turn taking. There’s one simple thing teams do to dramatically improve team meetings...

Use Spatial Audio For Natural Conversation With Your Team

Spatial audio is basically a fancy way of describing audio that sounds like it does in real life: Immersive, warm, and natural — like you’re at a normal party or gathering with friends, and you can move in and out of conversations without feeling like you don’t quite know when to speak up, or take your turn quietly listening.

In this way, high quality spatial audio ends up being a practical solution to help your team not only feel like they are actually together, but to communicate in a way that is natural… and effective. And when your daily stand up is only 15 minutes, that matters in a huge way. (And conventional VOIP audio just isn’t very nice.)

Stand up meetings don’t need to be filled with Zoom fatigue, unnatural pauses in conversation, and the forever awkward “Oh, no, you go… [pause] No, you…” when you talk over your colleague, but it’s not clear who should proceed. (There are even researched benefits of using voice-only communication instead of videoconferencing, too.)

To date, spatial audio has helped users dramatically improve team meetings.

How does one achieve using spatial audio? It’s not difficult anymore. With High Fidelity’s Spatial Audio API, it’s easy to integrate high quality, immersive audio into your web app. Check out various companies already starting to do so, or chat with us about developing your own. You can get started experimenting by creating a free developer account below.

Published by Emily Iwankovitsch July 15, 2021

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