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How to set the right status meeting cadence—without overwhelming your team
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How to set the right status meeting cadence—without overwhelming your team

Discover 6 factors to consider when setting status meeting cadence—and how doing more outside these meetings makes them more efficient.

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Stretching over 13,000 miles, the Great Wall of China is one of the largest construction projects ever, taking over two millennia to complete. Why? Well, as the name suggests, it’s pretty big. 

One thing’s for sure: it didn’t take two thousand years because people were stuck in endless meetings, talking about work instead of doing it.  

Regular project status meetings help keep your team and project on track, but too many meetings can lead to fatigue and burnout. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing though: Using the right tools and async techniques lets you find a middle ground where you do more outside of meetings, make the ones you do have count, and give your team back more time to make progress. 

Sounds good, right? In this post, we’ll walk you through the factors to bear in mind when setting status meeting cadence. We’ll also outline how Switchboard lets you run more effective meetings—or even cancel them altogether.   

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6 things to consider when setting status meeting cadence  

The frequency of project status meetings depends on the nature and complexity of your project and your team’s needs. Weekly meetings are often the norm as they provide a good balance between staying updated and giving people time to actually get work done. However, the cadence can vary depending on a range of factors. 

Let’s take a look at those now.

1. Your project   

When setting the cadence for status meetings, try to tailor it to the specific needs and characteristics of your project. The frequency can vary from monthly meetings to weekly or even daily depending on factors like the stage and pace of work.  

Here are a few things to think about:

  • How complex is the project? 
  • What phase is it in?
  • Are there any imminent deadlines or high-priority milestones? 
  • Are there any major curveballs that require you to pivot? 
“If there's a ton of different moving parts, you probably want to meet more frequently, just so everybody's hearing everything.” Jordan Hirsch, CEO, Lead Trainer & Coach, FishTree.

How often you need to meet can also vary throughout the project lifecycle. For example, during critical phases like kick-off, you may need more frequent meetings to address urgent issues and proactively deal with bumps in the road until you’re off to a smooth start.   

Later, as the project transitions to business-as-usual and the need for intensive coordination reduces, meetings can be less frequent. Now, the project manager is more focused on maintaining momentum and addressing any emerging issues, so a bi-weekly or even monthly meeting may be enough. 

Ultimately, the cadence should be designed to let you run more effective status meetings, ensuring effective communication, collaboration, and decision-making throughout the project without overwhelming the team with too-frequent meetings.

Switchboard room with people and apps.
When you meet in Switchboard, you can work side by side on any item in the room, making meetings more productive.

2. Your team 

When determining status meeting cadence, your team’s size, needs, and dynamics are also important. 

It can be easier to stay aligned and get visibility on what everyone’s doing on a small team that works closely together. That means shorter, less frequent meetings can be effective. For larger teams, you might need longer meetings to cover everyone’s agenda items. If so, you may want to limit meeting frequency to avoid overwhelming people (more on this later). 

Either way, remember that not every team member needs to be present every time: If you’re regularly holding meetings that aren’t relevant to everyone, try splitting into smaller groups for more targeted, productive discussions. Also, only invite those people who are directly involved in or affected by agenda items. This lets you run better project meetings as it helps keep real time discussions relevant and your whole team engaged. 

You should also be mindful of your team’s workload and the project phase. “If people are really stressed about hitting a deadline,” says Hirsch, “then even though you need that status update, maybe it has to wait a day, or a few days, for people to get through their work. Otherwise, they're not going to really be present at your meeting. They're going to be thinking about the clock ticking, how this is time out of their workday, how they need to do other things.” 

Your team’s location can also influence meeting frequency: Remote teams may welcome more frequent check-ins than in-person ones that have other opportunities to build connections. Remember, though, that frequent meetings can be disruptive and challenging to coordinate when people are spread out across time zones. Again, it’s a matter of finding the right balance.

Hirsch also highlights how trust can reduce the need for constant communication: “At the beginning of a new team, trust is lower. Maybe because people don’t know each other yet. Then, you need more frequent communication. Once trust is established, you need less. Over time, it's been shown that high trust teams communicate less frequently because they trust that others are doing their thing. They don't need that input quite so often, so meeting cadence can decrease as the project goes on." Of course, this assumes that you’ve created the right conditions for effective cross-functional collaboration

Switchboard room with people and apps open.
All the apps your team uses work in Switchboard—with no need for integrations.

3. Your meeting goals 

Next, ask yourself why you’re meeting and what you need to achieve. Once you know that, you can assess what content you need to cover and who needs to be involved. The answers to these questions will help you determine the meeting length and, therefore, the frequency. 

Create a project status meeting agenda with items prioritized by order of importance. Are you tackling a complex project with constant changes that require regular brainstorming? Or are you primarily focused on tracking and reviewing task progress? Understanding why you’re meeting will help you determine whether more or less frequent meetings are warranted. Or if you even need a meeting at all, which we’ll get into later. 

Once you’ve run a few meetings, reflect on whether you’re achieving your goals. Do you struggle to get through everything because there’s not enough time? Are you leaving crucial agenda items unaddressed? If so, you may need to meet more frequently. If, however, you’re struggling to fill the agenda, you can probably scale back.

Switchboard room with apps, notes, and documents.
Save project materials in your Switchboard room so everyone can refer back to them, helping to keep them aligned.

4. Meeting duration 

When it comes to regular meetings, you need to find the balance between duration and frequency. 

There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but the longer your meetings, the more spaced out they should be. By contrast, if meetings are short and sweet, you can probably get away with holding them more frequently. Witness the daily standup, which is usually 15 minutes long.

You need to get this right as frequent long drawn-out meetings can drain people’s energy and eat into time for actual work, which affects productivity and progress. If you’re scheduling 1+ hour meetings every week, ask yourself whether it’s really the best use of your team’s time. Could you share information beforehand and make the meeting more concise? If you really do need that time to get through everything, consider taking it to a bi-weekly meeting instead. 

As mentioned, drafting an agenda will help you determine the duration and, therefore, frequency. Try to assess the time required for each item and timebox each one so you stay on track. If you’re meeting in Switchboard, you can use the meeting timer to ensure people stick to their allotted time for contributions.

Switchboard daily standup room.
Meetings like daily standups are typically short, though you can also run them asynchronously in Switchboard.

5. Can you do more outside the meeting?   

The more you do before and after the meeting, the shorter and more focused you can make it. Reading off tasks on a spreadsheet or using the time to gather statuses are two reasons status meetings become a waste of time. Instead, they should be dedicated to collaborative problem solving and topics you need the whole team to weigh in on. 

Share agendas, materials, and statuses async before the meeting so people can get up to speed and prepare. That way, they’ll come ready to work when the meeting starts. This means you can use valuable time for discussion rather than updating people. 

Hirsch recommends evaluating alternative means of communication: If you’re already covering 90 percent of the meeting topics in your project management tool or messaging app, maybe you don’t need to meet as often. Of course, you should establish feedback loops so any urgent issues that arise between meetings or scheduled updates don’t slip through the cracks. 

A Switchboard room can be used in place of a meeting. Start by creating a Google Doc or pulling up your project management app in your project room. Everyone commits to adding and reading updates and materials shared in the room by a certain deadline, so you don’t need to do it in the meeting. If anyone needs to discuss something, they can start a comment thread on any item in the room and tag teammates to respond. If discussions get complex, just hop into a call in the room to straighten things out instead of going back and forth in endless threads.

Pro tip: Establish internal communication guidelines for asynchronous communication and working and share them in your Switchboard room so everyone can always find them and refer back.
Switchboard comment thread on a document.
Switchboard comment threads ensure you’re always communicating in context—during a meeting or asynchronously.

6. Experiment and get feedback 

Status meeting cadence isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it thing. While consistency in meeting schedules is beneficial for planning and getting your team into a familiar routine, you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with different meeting cadences. Start by setting up what you believe your client, team, and project need. Then, if it’s not working after a few weeks, switch it out. 

Get regular input from your team to assess how useful the meeting is and whether the cadence is appropriate. Do they lack visibility on key items or would they prefer more time for focus work? As the team leader and facilitator, the final decision is in your hands. However, being transparent and communicating openly helps build trust and shows you have their back. Let them know in advance about any planned adjustments to the format or cadence, and that it’ll be up for discussion after a trial period. 

During meetings, read the room to see how engaged team members are. If people are mentally checked out or the meeting isn’t yielding action items, consider reducing the cadence. The goal of these meetings is to benefit your project, team, clients, and company. If you’re not achieving that, it’s time to change things up. 

Status meeting cadence: Pick the right one for your project and team 

Setting the right cadence for your status meetings is a delicate balancing act: You need to keep your direct reports informed and the project on track without taking people away from their work.  

To choose a meeting cadence, think about factors like meeting goals and duration, project complexity and stage, and team dynamics and needs. Do people work well together with little oversight or do you need more frequent check-ins? Sometimes, the smartest decision is to set them free to get work done. Whatever you choose, get feedback and play around with the frequency till you get it right. 

When you meet in Switchboard, you get dedicated project rooms that save your work. This lets you share materials and statuses outside the meeting so you can save valuable time for group discussions, brainstorming, and strategizing. When you do need to meet, everything is already organized in the room, so you can work side by side on anything without sharing screens or waiting for your turn to contribute.

Move faster with fewer meetings.
Switchboard saves your work and makes everything multiplayer, so you can do more in–and in between–meetings. 
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Frequently asked questions about status meeting cadence 

What is meeting cadence? 

Meeting cadence is how often you hold a meeting. For example, daily standup meetings are short and, as the name suggests, daily meetings. Project status update meetings tend to be longer and have a weekly meeting cadence, though this meeting rhythm may vary. Large, whole-company meetings like all-hands meetings tend to have a monthly cadence, while business reviews, board meetings, or strategic planning may be a quarterly meeting. 

How do you determine meeting cadence? 

You can determine the right meeting cadence based on the needs of your project, client, and team. If you’re running a complex project that’s in a critical phase, you may need to meet more frequently to keep everyone aligned and spot roadblocks. If, however, too frequent meetings are preventing your team from making progress, consider reducing them. Factors like meeting duration also affect cadence: short, snappy meetings can be held more often. Longer ones should be more spaced out to avoid overwhelming people. 

How often should status meetings be held for effective team communication? 

How often you hold status meetings will depend on the complexity and phase of your project and your team’s size, needs, and dynamics. Well-established teams and projects that are running smoothly are likely to need fewer recurring meetings, maybe bi-weekly or monthly. Others may benefit from the standard weekly team meeting cadence. 

Either way, try to communicate async as much as possible. For example, by sharing updates and materials in your Switchboard project room. This lets you save team meetings for topics the whole group needs to weigh in on rather than boring status updates. 

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Move faster with fewer meetings.

Switchboard saves and organizes your work,so you can do more in and between meetings.