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How to Conduct Engaging and Productive Sync Meetings (+Free Templates)

Sync meetings are an excellent way to update the team on progress, identify challenges, and discuss ways to keep the project on track.

By Max Freedman  •   February 26, 2024  •   7 min read

Even if you spend seven hours of your eight-hour workday doing tasks you don’t need anyone’s help with, you don’t work alone. Your to-do list is inextricably tied to your team’s goals. Daily or weekly sync meetings are the most efficient way to align these goals and your work while figuring out how to leapfrog over obstacles.

What is a sync meeting?

A sync meeting, also known as a sync-up meeting, is a daily or weekly 10 to 15-minute meeting focused on progress updates. It’s also a chance for you and your team to align your short-term plans. You’ll all chat about overcoming challenges, brainstorm creative solutions, and discuss progress.

Sync meetings probably sound familiar. They might make you think of daily standup meetings, but they’re not exactly the same. For starters, only daily standups are a requirement of the Scrum project management framework, where only dedicated Scrum team members are invited. With sync meetings, you can invite anyone in your team or even across departments, Plus, even though they’re technically supposed to happen daily or weekly, you can hold them less often if truly necessary, unlike standups.

Make every sync meeting productive

Say goodbye to unproductive sync meetings. With Fellow, your team can collaborate on meeting agendas, assign and link action items with project management tools, and keep track of meeting decisions in one place, ensuring actionable outcomes in every meeting.

Benefits of sync meetings

Here are some reasons you might want to hold a quick sync meeting daily or weekly.

1Getting everyone on the same page

A hardworking team is full of people who each have a handful of unique roles and responsibilities. The more these folks focus on only their own task lists, the less often they might communicate with everyone else. Sync meetings make sure communication happens, and that’s a big deal. It’s how you point everyone in the right direction, find collaboration opportunities, and remind your team why they’re doing what they’re doing.

2Making better decisions

When you hold regular sync meetings, everyone shares their progress updates and biggest challenges at certain points in the week. In doing so, you all create the open dialogue that’s needed to come to the best possible decisions. Plus, since you’ll all be speaking in real-time, you’ll make collaborative decisions faster than ever before.

3Solving problems

Your whole team is present during sync meetings, and that makes for much better problem-solving. Everyone will be hearing about your current challenges, and they’ll come up with potential solutions on the spot. When they share these with the whole room, you all can build on them together. From there, finding a way to overcome your obstacles with group buy-in is all the more likely.

4Giving (and getting) rapid feedback

Ask your team members to bring their most recent work to your sync meeting for group input. You’ll expedite the often time-consuming process of team members getting feedback from one another. By creating a system of continuous feedback, you’ll show your team that you value communication, collaboration, transparency, and working together to achieve the best results.

How to make sync meetings work for your team

Sync meetings are simple—and making the most of them is too. Here’s how to be the best sync meeting facilitator possible. 

1Set a meeting agenda

As the saying goes, “no agenda, no attenda.” A meeting that has no clear plan of discussion or action is going to be unproductive and not worth your time. Don’t let your sync meetings fall into this trap—create a meeting agenda to provide clear guidance.

A great meeting agenda makes your talking points and their order abundantly clear. You’re best off sharing this agenda with attendees a day before your meeting. This way, everyone has plenty of time to add their own talking points (and other thoughts and questions).

Use Fellow’s collaborative meeting agendas to get group buy-in on your sync meetings. To save yourself time generating these agendas in the first place, turn to Fellow’s AI agendas. Fellow’s AI meeting assistant will take cues from your meeting title, previous meeting notes, and attendees to help build thoughtful, relevant and customizable meeting topics and talking points for collaborators. You can efficiently prepare for the sync meeting without sacrificing quality.

2Create a universal set of meeting agenda questions

Sync meetings should be short and sweet, so long agendas are out of the question. Instead, your sync meetings should always hinge on the same handful of questions—three or four at most. Focus these questions on short-term or strategic team alignment, objectives and key results (OKRs), and team members’ progress and status. 

There’s no need to commit yourself to these questions—you can change them over time. This is especially worth doing if your syncs aren’t getting your team on the same page and moving your project forward. In that case, go back to the drawing board and edit these questions to fit your team’s unique nature.

3Figure out when to hold your meetings

Finding a time to meet is a big part of making sync meetings efficient and meaningful. Will daily meetings be too much for your team? If you schedule weekly meetings, do you need 10 minutes or the full 15? What about the option of less-than-weekly meetings? 

It’s also important to figure out when during the day your team might be best prepared for a meeting. Are their minds clear for status updates first thing in the morning, or do they need to ease into the day first? Would an end-of-day meeting be inefficient?

These aren’t the easiest questions to answer alone. Ask for your team’s input as to how often they’d like to have sync meetings and at what time of day. Balance their answers with what best serves your projects to find the perfect time and frequency to meet.

4 tips for effective sync meetings

Sync meetings work best when you follow these meeting ground rules:

1Let people opt out

This advice might, at first, seem to go against the whole concept of sync meetings. How can you get everyone on the same page if not everyone is there? Well, you can’t, really. But that might be less important than not taking away from team members’ actual work time with a meeting. Sure, your sync meetings are short, but in a fast-paced work environment, every second counts. Give people the occasional power to say no to your sync meeting invites.

2Set clear time limits

Don’t break that promise if you say your sync meeting will last only 15 minutes. Set time limits on each of your meeting agenda items to achieve this goal. Start your meeting on time as well—even if people are late—and make sure nobody leaves early. Run your meeting for at least five minutes, though, because there is such a thing as too short of a meeting.

3Know when to go casual

An actual meeting might be less useful when your main goal is brainstorming or problem-solving. In that case, your agenda can simply name the problem to be solved instead of outlining a bunch of talking points. It can also act as your space to assign meeting action items and take meeting notes. With this loose agenda, you’ll find it easy to chat about the topic at hand casually. You might even find a path forward just by talking about it.

4Keep distractions away

Sync meetings are so brief that any distractions are major problems. Tell everyone attending to put their phones on silent or leave them in another room. For virtual meetings, make sure everyone is using their camera—this often results in less distracted team members. Make it clear that meeting time isn’t for work tasks and that the focus should be on the conversation, not one’s to-do list.

Free sync meeting agenda templates

Run sync meetings like a pro with Fellow’s Product Sync Meeting Template. For expert-approved templates, check out award-winning SaaS Academy founder Dan Martell’s Sync Meeting Agenda template and Polly’s Leadership Weekly Sync template. These free templates come pre-loaded with recommended talking points to get you and your team synced and aligned. Plus, it’s completely customizable based on your team’s needs.

Ending on a synced note with Fellow

Another big challenge with syncs is trying to run one without meeting management software. Enter Fellow, which goes beyond just meeting agendas. With hundreds of meeting templates and easy features for turning sync discussions into action items, you can ensure accountability with Fellow. Whether you’re looking for a product and design sync template, a go-to-market biweekly sync template, or something else, you’ll find it here.

On top of that, Fellow empowers you to capture an accurate record of all your sync meetings in one place. Fellow’s AI Meeting Copilot automatically records, transcribes, and summarizes your meetings while seamlessly integrating into your meeting workflow and with your favorite tools. It can also automate action items based on the conversation so everyone is aligned and follow-ups are clear.

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