Sprint review

It’s sprint review or demo day! You’ve hit the end of the sprint and your team wants to show off to the stakeholders that they’ve managed to actually build something or at very least, they learnt somethings that will help move the product on.

Trouble is, hardly any stakeholders attend.

We all know stakeholders tend to be pretty busy and important people – aren’t we all – but somehow it’s not been communicated how much value it adds to have them there. Not just in helping shape the product, but for team morale!

Even if you do get your stakeholders to attend demos, I’ve seen them come and not be fully present. They’re either on their phones or chatting to team members or stakeholders. Not good form.

So what can be done?

First and foremost; the product owner, delivery manager or you needs to explain how much value their presence adds and how it impacts your work and the value you create.

If they didn’t attended, tell them what they missed and what decisions where made without their presence. Underline how they will be required at the next demo so their voice can heard and momentum is not lost.

NB: Avoid doing this regularly as it won’t encourage them to attend if all you’re doing is reporting to them what they missed.

If they have a habit of not making demos, call them out. If they’re not interested in the product you’re building how can you expect the team to?

Perhaps you have no problems with your team, your stakeholders attend most of the time. That’s great news, but how do you get them excited to come and leave talking about the product, your team and the research when they leave?

The biggest problem I have witnessed; and suffered first hand, is a boring demo. Please, please, please people! It’s a presentation! Make them interesting, make them entertaining! Trey telling a story and take your stakeholders on a journey so they feel part of what you are creating and that they want to be involved in! Making them feel part of it and excited about will make them more likely to share it with other people in the business and keep coming.

Often your stakeholders won’t have the same level of experience that your and your team has. They unlikely to be aware of user research techniques, agile process or what each bit of code does on the server so simplify it! Speak in a language a child can understand and educate your stakeholders. Avoid acronyms and jargon (unless the whole room is familiar with them) and make them feel empowered and comfortable to get involved and ask questions, probe and understand why your product is in it’s current state.

Finally, keep a tight schedule! Arrgh! There’s nothing worse than being continually delayed by long and meandering meetings…well there is…being delayed by over running boring meetings. If your stakeholders know your demos start and finish on time (or early!) they’ll be a lot more likely to come. A great facilitator will help park any issues and conversations raised during the demo for following up later.