Scrum Ceremonies to Add to Your Sprint: Demo Prep

In part one of this series on Scrum Ceremonies to Add to Your Sprint, we discussed pre-refinement. In part two, we’ll talk about demo prep.

Have you ever been in a demo where the transitions were clunky or time-consuming? Or where the through line doesn’t sing? Or worse, you didn’t know you were demoing, and suddenly someone is asking you to? Here is the demo prep I’ve seen teams do to get aligned, reduce pressure, and provide a better client experience before stepping into the demo.

What is the goal?

Demo prep is an opportunity to curate the setlist and practice showing off your work. In doing so, you can create a concise narrative and provide clean transitions from one person to the next.

For folks less practiced in public speaking, this is a chance to refine and get feedback. It can be a great way to build trust and communication skills across the team. Ideally, this is a chance to practice how you will show your work in a low-stakes environment.

If there are many stories in the done column, this can be particularly helpful for establishing a logical flow to present work in. The team also has clarity about who is presenting what before the meeting starts.

Who is involved? 

The scrum team.

Have folks present even if they aren’t demoing. This gives folks a chance to see other examples of how to demo and raise questions. It creates an environment for providing and receiving feedback on how to more effectively communicate.

What might it look like?

The scrum team gathers and takes a look through completed stories from the last sprint. This can be led by anyone on the team. Make a list of what will be demoed, by whom, and in what order. Put that somewhere that the team can see it like into the Demo calendar invite or a pin in Slack.

Each person who will be demonstrating something can do a practice run through their work. The rest of the team can then share feedback for presenting like adding additional context or visuals. Often questions come up that can be discussed as a group. Similarly, it is a good opportunity to anticipate what questions the client might have.

As in Demo, the goal is to be efficient about sharing. However, I’ve seen a benefit in spending the time upfront to collaboratively craft a narrative for a succinct Demo. Hopefully, there is some amount of praise and excitement for the work completed in the mix of these conversations.

How often is Demo Prep held?

Once a sprint for 30 minutes.

For a team of 4-6 developers, I budget 30 minutes. If the team is more senior or the chunks of work completed are smaller, you might need less time. If the team is greener or the chunks of work are more complex to Demo, you might need more time.

Ideally, this is within 24 to two hours before the actual demo, so not too far in advance that folks forget what they will be sharing. And it should not be so close to the actual demo that, if something breaks, there isn’t time to troubleshoot small fixes.

What is the Value Proposition?

Demo prep helps teams organize and improve their communication skills before getting in front of a client. It is a chance for less-practiced folks to find their footing and get feedback. Those more practiced can offer coaching. Additionally, it is another opportunity for teams to collaborate and build trust. 

Closing Thoughts

With teams that have used Demo Prep, I’ve seen a noticeable difference in how at ease they feel while demoing. The team also comes across as more polished and it has been a better experience for the client. And for me, I love getting a preview of the upcoming demo so I can focus more on client reactions.

Interested in exploring other practices you might adopt to improve your Agile processes? Check out the series Rethinking Agile. And stay tuned for the third and final part of this series, Scrum Ceremonies to Add to Your Sprint, when we’ll talk about Team Flex Time.


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