We use Scrum at the office to manage our projects. One of the key practices of Scrum is the daily meeting (or daily Scrum.) The daily meeting is a short meeting (15 minutes in our case) held every day at the same time with the whole team (product owners, QA, and developers.)
The goal of the meeting is to keep everybody informed of the progress since the last meeting and make sure there are no roadblocks.
The rules for the daily meeting are simple: The meeting must be short, time-boxed, and every team member must report
Since in most of our projects we have remote participants I used to show a spreadsheet with our Sprint Backlog in a projector and have everybody report their status. The spreadsheet was shared real time with remote users and updates were seen by everybody.
This was a nice idea since it kept all participants (local and remote) involved in the meeting. However the spreadsheet approach had a huge disadvantage: the focus of the meeting became the spreadsheet rather than the status of the team.
With the spreadsheet approach developers tended to be very mechanical when reporting what they had done and what they will do next. It was very common for people to say "take 3 hours down from line 25 of the spreadsheet and 4 hours from line 28" rather than describing what they did (e.g. "I worked on the problem that prevent users outside the domain from logging in.")
Last year I decided to stop using the spreadsheet in our daily meetings. We still get together and report our status, but instead of looking at a spreadsheet some people bring a notepad with a list of things to report while others do it of memory.
This little change has made a huge difference in our daily meetings. The meetings are much more conversational now than they ever were. Since there is no central spreadsheet to look at participants now report to their peers rather than to the spreadsheet.
Now that the focus of the meeting has moved away from the spreadsheet it has been easier to make it a meeting where everybody gets informed on what's going on with the project. People really talk about what they are doing rather than just taking hours down from tasks. For example, since there is no spreadsheet during the meeting the participants need to describe what they are working on (e.g. "working on a bug in the login process") rather than just saying "working on bug report #20".)
We still keep track of the number of hours remaining in our Sprint Backlog items but is done outside of the daily meeting.