How to plan a cross-functional planning meeting

3 min. read

Planning meetings can sometimes run all day and with everyone being remote, it can feel so much longer with everyone feeling lost and not on the same page. However, I've found that with the right planning, all day planning meetings don't have to be so boring and everyone engineer or not can walk away feeling motivated and ready to begin work.

Outline the Agenda

Setting a clear agenda and sending it out days before helps everyone get in the right mindset. I like to look at Agendas as sort of an agreement that we know exactly what is being covered and if there is something missing bring it up ahead of time so it can be factored in. Setting an agenda helps everyone become prepared and within the right mindset.

Designate a Separate Time for Questions

It may seem natural to let people ask questions as the topics come up, but it's a lot easier to designate a specific time for questions. This allows everyone in the meeting to effectively be on the same page. For example, if someone is presenting something, your question could potentially derail the topic at hand and can have everyone start to lose focus on what's being talked about. By having a separate time to ask questions, everyone will know it's time to really look at finding a solution rather than flipping between understanding the information and finding a solution.

Prioritize the Questions

I really like to have everyone writing out their questions, grouping the questions, and then prioritizing the questions. By everyone writing out their questions I think it allows everyone to feel like they're equally contributing to the discussion. By grouping the questions we can start to see similarities and understand what people are the most confused about or wonder the most about. To prioritize the questions, have everyone vote on which category everyone wants to discuss. This will allow you to get the best answers for the most pressing questions that your team has before the end of the day if people have to drop off towards the end.

Add Bio Breaks

Don't just add breaks for lunch, also add breaks for people in the middle to get snacks or do whatever they need to do. We're all still human and giving people a second to decompress during the middle of a planning session is key.

Bring in Outside Stakeholders if Necessary

Depending on your org structure, you may be working on something that needs insight from another team to better understand the context of what you're trying to solve. Invite those additional stakeholders to come in especially during the Q&A part so that instead of your team just guessing or trying to figure it out later, they can figure it out during the meeting.

Create User Stories That Everyone Can Understand

Now that the meeting is about to end and all of the questions have been answered, now you should be creating your user stories or any other takeaways that were expected at the end of your meeting. To make this process effective make sure that the language you're using isn't just tech language, it's something that everyone can understand.

Having everyone on your team on the same page, creates better moral and also keeps the momentum going as you work to complete the project. If you try any of these tips, please be sure to let me know!

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