How I prep for update meetings

At these types off meetings you don’t want to waffle.  You also will don’t want to walk in with half the information.

I’m going to concentrate on agile here where the senior management team is likely to want to know what is going on in sprint and how healthy the backlog is.  There are of course a lot of other items a large scale programme is likely to want to know.  But I’m using a weekly update on progress to give an example on what to report on and how to prep.

The other important thing is that although the senior management is likely to have the figures and stats in front of them.  Having a face to face will help put some context on these.

Preparation

It is really worth doing a little prep for any meeting and to have all key facts at hand.  I’m not saying spend hours on this.  If you find you are, you need to be asking questions on the type of information is being conveyed during the meeting.  Is the information going to portray what the audience really want to know and is the key information getting lost amongst a lot of other noise.

I usually take 10 minutes out the hour before hand and remove myself from distractions. I then take 4 small post-it notes. The reason I use post-it notes is to ensure I don’t bring my laptop or ipad to the meeting which can lead to the meeting being disjointed as you look for information.  Using post-it notes also ensures only the key information is on them as i’m restricted by space.

Post-its

Post-it note one holds the information on the current in sprint stuff. It will hold the story points in relation to the status of ‘Accepted’, ‘In Testing’, ‘In Progress’ stories.  It will also hold the number of stories blocked.  More about that later

Post-It notes two and three are all about the health of the backlog.  The first one will deal with what we are planning for next sprint and the second one will deal with two sprints out.  On these I place the story points in relation to the status of ‘Ready’, ‘Maturing’ and ‘blocked’.

The last post-it holds the key blockers for in-sprint and the following two sprints as these are the most critical items to highlight.

The Meeting

During the meeting I’ll start with the in sprint stuff and then move onto the backlog.  I’ll refer to the blockers post-it throughout. This should take about 20 minutes to get through.

You can easily get caught in the “always at meetings trap” and I have found this technique helpful in reducing meeting times and ensuring key information is circulated.

It won’t work for all meetings of course just those which are related to progress updates.

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