How to Nail Your Weekly Sync

Published on
June 25, 2023

Is your weekly sync a strong cornerstone of team communication, or a dreaded event looming over your team's calendar?  As a product manager who's led several teams and juggled countless syncs, I know they can feel like both. But when done right, these meetings can be the superglue that holds your team's productivity and unity together.

Weekly syncs are an opportunity to celebrate success, demonstrate progress, align on goals, address blockers, and ensure everyone's on the same page. But let's face it, a meeting that feels like a repetitive time-drain rather than a productive check-in can leave your team with meeting-phobia. So, how can we turn that around and make weekly syncs something your team looks forward to?

We will dive into a few approaches to weekly syncs and share tips to get more value-per-minute from your time together.

What is the purpose of weekly meetings?

So, what exactly are weekly syncs and why do we need them, especially if you already have daily standups? Let's talk about that.

Weekly syncs, as the name suggests, are meetings that take place on a weekly basis with the goal of keeping the team aligned and in sync. Most teams don't fall agile ceremonies to a T, so a weekly touch base often covers some of the same ground you might cover in a sprint review or retro (especially if your team releases features when they are ready, and not in "sprints")

A weekly sync gives you the chance to step back and take a wider look at bigger-picture opportunities or concerns, strategize, demo your latest work, and celebrate success.

In comparison, daily standup meetings are like the quick morning huddle where everyone shares their game plan for the day and any immediate blockers. You shouldn't really be zooming out and demoing your work in a standup. The standup should be focused on the 'now' while weekly meetings focus on the  'next'.

How long should weekly sync meetings last?

Time is a precious resource, especially when it comes to meetings. So, the golden question: how long should a weekly sync meeting last? The answer depends on your team's needs and dynamics, but as a rule of thumb, aim for about 30 to 60 minutes. This timeframe should provide enough room to cover your key points, engage in discussions, and make decisions, without stretching too long and burning people out. Remember, it's not about packing the meeting with agenda items, but making sure the meeting is packed with value.

Who should attend the weekly meeting

Deciding who should attend a weekly sync can be tricky. The answer? It depends on what the meeting is about. If the sync revolves around a specific project or objective, include all team members involved in those workflows. If the meeting is a broader team sync, all members of the team should be present. The key is to ensure everyone who can contribute to or benefit from the meeting's content is there. And remember, more isn't always merrier in meetings, it's about having the right people in the (virtual) room.

What should be in a weekly meeting agenda?

Preparing a stellar agenda for your weekly sync meeting can be the difference between a productive discussion and a dreaded time-drain. Use this meeting template to create an engaging and productive meeting.  Depending on your team, you might want to crowd source this in advance to make sure people are getting info they need or care about.

Opening items

Kick off the meeting with opening items - essential information, reminders, or quick updates that need to be shared with the team. This is also an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Consider starting with an icebreaker to lighten the mood and foster team connection. This could be a fun question, a quick team-building activity, or a minute of shared mindfulness. It's all about making everyone comfortable and ready to engage.

Team updates

The bulk of your weekly sync should be devoted to team updates. This is when each team member shares their progress on current tasks, outlines what they plan to tackle next week, and raises any issues or blockers. This segment ensures everyone is on the same page and highlights areas where support or collaboration might be needed. It's a pulse check on team activity, and a critical tool for tracking project management progress and addressing bottlenecks promptly.📈

Blockers or roadblocks

Imagine driving along smoothly and suddenly hitting a roadblock. It's frustrating, right? The same goes for projects. That's why addressing blockers or roadblocks is a crucial part of your weekly team meetings. Here, team members have the chance to voice the challenges or hindrances they're encountering in their tasks. Shedding light on these obstacles allows the team to brainstorm solutions, rearrange resources, or adjust timelines as needed. It's an important step to keep your project moving and to ensure no one feels stuck or stressed in their work.

Wins and future planning

Let's bring on the cheer! In the 'wins and future planning' part of the meeting, it's time to celebrate victories, however small. Recognizing achievements not only boosts team morale, but also helps identify what's working well. Use these insights to fuel future planning. This is when the team discusses upcoming tasks, goals, or milestones, grounding them in the success of the past week. Looking forward helps everyone stay focused and excited about what’s next.

Action items

Just like the closing scene of a great movie, your weekly sync should end on a compelling note with action items. This section crystalizes the 'who', 'what', and 'when' of tasks that need to be done based on the meeting's discussions. Clearly defined action items ensure everyone knows their responsibilities and deadlines. This not only promotes accountability, but also serves as a roadmap for the coming week, keeping everyone on track and aligned towards common goals.

Tips for improving your weekly syncs

As we navigate through the 'new normal' of remote working, making the most of our meetings has never been more important. Here are a few handy tips to jazz up your weekly syncs and make them more effective:

Facilitate your meetings with a dedicated tool

Let's face it, juggling multiple tools and platforms during a meeting can be a real headache. Simplify your weekly syncs with a dedicated meeting tool. Enter Spinach 🥬 - an AI Scrum Master that joins your weekly sync to summarize key decisions and action items.

Before your weekly sync, Spinach sends a notification to each team member to fill out their status updates. Once everyone’s online, Spinach facilitates the speaking order and even has a meeting timer to ensure everyone's reports are timely. Best of all, Spinach automates the boring stuff like generating meeting notes and suggesting ticket updates. This way, you can all stay focused during the meeting and have a handy record for later.

Add Spinach to your weekly sync for instant notes in Slack including key decision, action items and links to any tickets you discussed.

Prepare and share agendas

Preparation is key to any successful meeting. Crowd sourcing and sharing a well-structured agenda in advance allows team members to participate in the agenda, know what to expect, and come prepared. It sets the framework for the meeting and enables everyone to contribute more effectively. Plus, it helps ensure no crucial points are missed.

Just set a Slack reminder in your team channel the day before your weekly sync to crowd source topics and vote with emojis to prioritize which topics have most interest to the group.

Start with an icebreaker

Don’t undervalue the power of a good icebreaker! Starting with a light-hearted question or activity can warm up the team and make the transition into the work discussion smoother. It also helps foster a positive team culture and build stronger relationships – especially important if your team is remote. 🎭

Keep the meeting focused

Stay on topic. I know it's easier said than done, especially with a group of innovative minds. However, keeping the meeting focused on the agenda ensures it's productive and respects everyone’s time. If an important but off-topic issue arises, add it to the 'parking lot' for a later discussion. This way, you address all critical points without derailing the meeting. 🚀

Improve weekly meetings with Spinach

Spinach, your AI Scrum Master, is designed to streamline the entire process of your weekly syncs. From reminding team members to fill out status updates, to facilitating speaking order during the meeting, Spinach takes the heavy lifting out of meeting management. Plus, it automatically generates meeting notes and suggests ticket updates, so your team can stay focused and engaged throughout the meeting.

try spinach for free

Get instant meeting notes. No credit card required.

try spinach for free