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What a Sprint Demo is NOT!

September 27, 2019

Sprint demos (also known as reviews) are a vital part of any Agile/Lean organisation, heck its good to showcase your work. I've been very fortunate to experience product demos that are well run and very exciting. But unfortunately, I've seen demos that are the complete opposite - a waste of everyone's time.

I want to showcase what a sprint demo is not. So that you can have great demos that people won't miss. One that is exciting, purposeful, and memorable. A sprint demo should not be:

  • It is not a tutorial on how to use a certain feature.
  • It is not to make developers accountable for what work they did.
  • It is not to make sure developers "are doing their work". I shit you not, I've heard this one before.
  • It is not a time to trash the work that the team has done.
  • It is not for just the development team.
  • It is not meant to be super formal.
  • It is not a sign-off meeting.

What sprint demos are for

The above makes a demo a daunting thing, an event that people will dread. And it should be a good experience for all the team. If you want to have product demos that build team spirit, then try to understand what the demo is meant to achieve.

It should be the following:

  • It helps to keep stakeholders informed on the progress of the product. It also allows them an opportunity to give feedback to the team.
  • It is to tell a story. Good demos tell a story, they tell the story of where the product is going and why it's going there.
  • It is a time to showcase value added to your product.
  • It is to show the hard work of the entire team - developers, designers, and product people.
  • It is informal, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be prepared.
  • It is a chance to offer suggestions, feedback, and ideas to improve your product.
  • It is a chance to celebrate with the broader team. Teams need to celebrate their wins and make work enjoyable.

That for me makes a great sprint demo. I would recommend you read the articles in the list below to help you create the perfect sprint demo.

Further reading on sprint demos

These resources will help you run great sprint demos.

Sprint Review Meeting

Scrum in practice: the Sprint Demo

Agile Sprint Reviews

Myth: The Sprint Review is a Demo

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