Weekly meetings are some of the most critical tools in project management.
They are essential for ensuring the team moves as a whole while helping solve any roadblocks that come up.
Unfortunately, meetings are also incredibly easy to misuse.
Many teams do them just for the sake of it, thereby wasting time and money. It’s no wonder that
more than 67% of meetings fail, according to recent statistics.
The key to making weekly meetings work in your favor is to keep them short while covering all the essential topics.
Here are 15 essential talking points to cover.
This is perhaps the primary and arguably most important topic during weekly
You should start by discussing pertinent project updates with the development team.
This can include the features everyone is working on, which parts of the project have been completed, and whether it’s on schedule.
Project updates are, in a way, the basic element of weekly meetings. Most of the topics you’ll cover will sprout from something discussed here.
However, it’s important to keep project updates
as short as possible. You can do this by focusing more on updates that are relevant to other team members.
For instance, if the design team recently changed its UI, informing the development team about it should be a top priority.
Progress toward goals
A development team exists to accomplish goals—in this case, creating a successful app. So it only makes sense to talk about it regularly.
Discussing goals in weekly meetings is valuable for keeping the team focused on the outcome and reminding them of the bigger picture.
This will end up making everyone much more productive.
Indeed, a study called
found that 59% of developers believe clear expectations and goals are the top factors for improving their productivity. The State of High Performing Teams in Tech 2022
The same study also found that when goals are discussed regularly,
people are 2.7 times more likely to hit them.
Furthermore, hitting goal milestones can be a big confidence boost for your team. Conversely, slower progress can help you identify problem areas early.
Metrics are an objective way to track your development team’s effectiveness and gauge productivity. As such, including them in the weekly meeting is vital.
For example, the code review metric lets you see how often your developers find and fix bugs. This can tell you how thorough your team is during testing or if they’re overdoing it.
Reviewing metrics can help you spot any problems or areas of improvement regarding your team’s performance.
And because they deal with raw numbers, you won’t base your decisions on gut feeling alone.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are dozens of metrics, and covering all of them in the weekly meeting might not be feasible.
Instead, focus on the ones with the biggest impact on your team.
Your team’s process and systems are also good talking points during a weekly meeting.
Members can use the time to discuss any changes they made to their workflow.
This is important because these revisions might affect other teams, so they must identify any potential issues.
It would also be good to let people suggest any changes they want to see in their current processes.
For instance, developers might prefer a specific kind of testing, or they might want to automate some tasks.
The bottom line is that developers are closest to the processes and know best which would work for them.
You shouldn’t just discuss team-wide topics during the weekly meeting. It’s also a great time to get updates from individual developers.
Crucially, it would be best if you gauged every team member about their progress.
This includes asking them what they accomplished during the week, what their next tasks are, and if they encountered any problems.
Again, this boils down to ensuring everyone is moving as a whole.
Asking individual members helps you maximize their potential and keep them in sync with the bigger picture.
Celebrating any win—no matter how small—is fantastic for team morale and should be part of every weekly meeting.
Just consider the following statistic:
Celebrating wins also helps promote a collaborative environment. It makes everyone feel that they’re on the right team.
The dopamine hit from the recognition also spurs individuals to work harder to bag the next win.
Furthermore, it also helps build trust between managers and their teams. It lets them know they’re appreciated, not just another cog on the wheel.
Just as important as discussing team wins is also looking at their failures.
It’s a good opportunity to analyze what went wrong, so you can implement improvements to minimize similar issues in the future.
Talking about failures also helps build trust and teamwork because it promotes the habit of working together to solve something.
However, you must be careful when discussing failures. You want to do it in a productive way and not in an accusatory manner. Doing the latter will erode trust and ruin morale.
The good way to do this is to let the team adopt an
us vs. the problem mindset.
Instead of blaming people responsible, focusing on the problem itself is better. Analyze what went wrong, your takeaways from the failure, and how you can pivot in the future.
Done right, analyzing failures leads to faster growth than only celebrating wins.
And it also fosters an environment where issues can be discussed openly without shame or fear of repercussions.
This is invaluable for the next critical topic—unanticipated roadblocks.
No project is smooth sailing. You’ll inevitably encounter problems and issues you didn’t anticipate during planning.
And when they do, it’s critical that you discuss and tackle it as a team.
Everyone should be encouraged to bring up any problems they’re facing or
think they will face—no matter how small.
This will help you identify potential problems before they become big enough to hinder your project.
But more than identifying the problem, solving it is the real benefit here. You’ll get the collective genius of the team and multiple perspectives to help brainstorm great solutions.
However, don’t make problem discussions so long that they eat time away from other agendas in the weekly meeting.
If a problem can’t be effectively tackled in a few minutes, it might be worth dedicating a separate meeting to it.
A product backlog lists the features or components you plan to have on your project but haven’t implemented yet.
As the project progresses, teams get tasks from the backlog and work on them.
Ideally, a project backlog should place high-priority tasks at the top so teams can tackle them sooner.
However, changes during the project might require you to reprioritize certain items in the backlog. Thus, evaluating the backlog during weekly meetings is a good idea.
Teams should regularly
examine the priority of the features they should be working on.
You can also get feedback from users on the estimated time required for each task, thus allowing you to re-arrange tasks in the backlog more smartly.
Weekly meetings shouldn’t just be about the project’s progress but that of the team as well. A fantastic way to ensure this growth is to talk about new insights regularly.
Like celebrating wins or looking at failures, discussing weekly learnings allows teams to improve their performance by looking at what went right and wrong.
Having a set of questions is useful to help guide participants through this thinking.
Here’s a great retrospective framework you can adopt:
These three questions cover all the important aspects of the team’s performance.
The first question (
what worked well) enables the team to analyze the good aspects of their workflow so that they can keep it up.
The second question (
what didn’t go well) encourages the team to look at their shortcomings more closely.
And finally, the last question (
what should we try next) is where most of the learnings come from.
By analyzing the good and the bad, teams can develop an improvement plan to refine their performance further.
One big mistake is to let your team work in a silo, oblivious to what’s happening in the rest of the company. You can avoid this by relaying company news to the team during weekly meetings.
This can be anything to a new hire, revamped policies, or changes to management structure. Such news is often relevant to your staff (even indirectly), so knowing about them is critical.
Furthermore, relaying news helps your developers feel a sense of belongingness to the organization.
However, do keep agendas about company news fairly short. They’re usually not that important to warrant more than ten minutes or so.
Much more important than company news is keeping abreast of what’s happening in the industry.
As a manager, you should always keep one eye fixed on the market.
Whether it’s about the latest app releases, new technologies, or innovative trends, industry news helps you anticipate changes that could impact your project.
For instance, you might find out that you’re developing a feature that’s now becoming obsolete. Letting your team know early can let you prepare for it.
But don’t let it become a one-way discussion. Encourage team members to give their reactions and predictions on the matter. A little friendly debate won’t hurt, either.
Plans for next week
When the meeting is closing to wrap up, it’s a good time to discuss what the team will tackle next week.
Revealing future plans is crucial for several reasons.
One is that it gives team members time to prepare.
For instance, if the development team plans to launch a prototype the following week, it gives the design team a heads-up to prepare the necessary visual assets.
Another is that it creates accountability. Voicing out your plans will cause other people to ask you about them the following week, motivating you to get it done.
Finally, it helps project managers prepare schedules depending on the planned tasks.
You should always end a meeting with action items.
These are the tasks that individual members
need to accomplish based on what was discussed during the meeting.
For instance, if everyone agreed to hold a problem-solving meeting to tackle a deep issue, an action item might be for developers to brainstorm potential solutions beforehand.
Be sure to write down all action items and deadlines, then discuss them again in the next meeting.
This is a good practice to get into, as it helps determine if the tasks were accomplished, promoting accountability.
Questions from developers
Before ending the meeting, it’s a good practice to open the floor for developers with more questions.
These can be things that the developers might’ve been hesitant to ask during the rest of the meeting. Or, it might be something relevant but not related enough to the agenda.
However, in some cases, these questions should
not be answered immediately, unless they’re short and easy to reply to.
Instead, these questions should form the discussion topics during the next weekly meeting. Or, if it’s urgent, warrant a dedicated meeting.
Weekly meetings are just the beginning
As you saw in this article, weekly meetings tackle a lot of critical project details.
Without them, keeping your development team aligned toward your goals will be close to impossible.
But it’s just one of the meetings you’ll need to conduct for a software project.
If you want to learn more, read our primer here on the
seven important meetings every software project needs.