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Imagine attending your favorite music festival. One by one, your favorite artists step onto the stage and captivate you with thrilling performances. You are living in the moment, absorbing the contagious energy and musical euphoria.

Among the pulsating beats stands an unsung hero—the MC. They seamlessly transition between acts, keep the crowd engaged, and ensure the show flows flawlessly. 

In the world of Agile product management, the Scrum Master, much like an MC, orchestrates a vibrant, collaborative symphony known as Scrum meetings. 

In this article, we'll discover what they’re all about, my go-to best practices, and how to extract a ton of value from every meeting.

What is a Scrum meeting?

To know what a Scrum meeting is, you need to understand what Scrum is. 

Scrum is an Agile methodology that, according to the Annual State of Agile Report 2022, is adopted by more than 85% of companies.

scrum meeting infographic

Agile methodologies use a step-by-step approach that focuses on flexibility, adaptability, and teamwork. They promote regular feedback, continuous improvement, and delivering value in small, gradual steps.

Now back to Scrum meetings. These meetings are also known as ceremonies. They keep everyone aligned on goals, enable quick decision-making, and provide a platform to address challenges promptly.

Types of Scrum Meetings

I hear you, meetings can be boring and repetitive. Who enjoys a purposeless “groundhog day-esque” meeting, right?

The nice thing about Scrum ceremonies is that they are purpose-led. Each serves a clear objective and supports the overall success of a Scrum project. 

Let’s delve into their individual goals. 

types of scrum meetings graphic

Daily Scrum (Stand-up)

The Daily Scrum meeting, aka the daily stand-up meeting, is held every day. In this short meeting, each team member answers three questions. 

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday? 
  2. What will I work on today? 
  3. Did I encounter any obstacles or impediments? 

By sharing this information, the team understands each other’s progress and potential blockers to achieve the sprint goal. 

Author's Tip

Though they’re a widely-used practice, I would argue that daily Scrums don’t always generate value. Don’t do them “just because.” Validate how valuable the practice is to your team members. If it is more suitable for the team, consider reducing the frequency.

Sprint Planning

A new sprint starts with the sprint planning meeting. The entire Scrum team, including the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and development team join. The objective is to decide what will be done in the sprint and define a clear sprint goal.

The Product Owner introduces the highest-priority items from the product backlog. The team discusses and breaks them down into smaller tasks, and estimates the effort needed to deliver. They then decide which to include in the sprint backlog. After that, the team has a shared understanding of the work to be accomplished.

Sprint Review

After each sprint, the Scrum team has a sprint review meeting

The objective is to showcase the completed work to stakeholders, gather feedback, and assess if the sprint goal has been achieved. This ensures that the product is in line with the needs and expectations of customers.

During the meeting, the team presents the potentially releasable functionality developed. Stakeholders, such as product owners, users, and customers, then share their perspectives on it. 

Their feedback helps refine the product backlog items. 

Author's Tip

Encourage the developer who builds the user story to share it.
This might not come naturally to everyone, but in my experience, a lot of developers find it nice and energizing to do.

 

If you find it hard to get stakeholders to attend, don’t worry, as communication is key.
Understand who your stakeholders are, what their communication needs are, and how to manage them.

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Sprint Retrospective

The sprint retrospective awaits as the sprint wraps up. It’s there to allow Scrum teams to examine and adjust their processes, identify areas of improvement, and plan changes. 

During the retrospective, the team reflects on three things:

  • What went well? 
  • What could have been done better?
  • Issues or challenges encountered 

They discuss potential solutions and actions for improvement. It is an opportunity to celebrate successes, learn from failures, and continuously enhance working methods. 

Author's Tip

Sprint retrospectives focus on learnings from a sprint. This can result in rabbit-holing behavior, and running the risk of missing out on recurring issues.
Zoom out to acquire actionable insights that matter in the long run. I found it helpful to have someone on the team being the “big picture person.”

Backlog Refinement

While not technically a meeting, backlog refinement is essential. The product owner and the development team continuously work together to review and clarify user stories and estimate the effort required for delivery. 

The goal is to keep a well-groomed backlog that is easily accessible and understandable.

Author's Tip

I have found it most efficient to groom the backlog on an ongoing basis. Co-collaboration on backlog refinement can be done async with plenty of online tools at your disposal. Consider using a dedicated Slack channel, or using product management software to your advantage.

How to run effective Scrum meetings

This all sounds great, but how do you run Scrum meetings effectively and keep everyone engaged and motivated?

By tapping into your planning, facilitation, and communication skills! 

Use these key strategies for running effective Scrum meetings that will drive active, enthusiastic participation from the team.

Preparation

Preparation is key. Before each meeting, define and share the agenda. 

The meeting agenda should outline the objectives, topics to be discussed, and time allocated for each. Prepare any relevant materials, such as the product backlog, and make sure they're available to teammates in advance.

By doing so, the whole team can arrive prepared and max out the potential of their time together.

Bonus: Create templates and adapt it to what you see working well with the team in order to continuously improve the engagement and effectiveness of your Scrum meetings.

Conducting the Meeting

It is crucial to create an environment that promotes active participation. 

Allow and encourage your team members to express their thoughts, concerns, and progress updates. It is important to maintain a balance between ensuring everyone’s participation and keeping the meeting focused and time-boxed.

Tips for Conducting Scrum Meetings:
  • Start meetings with a small icebreaker to get the juices flowing, guards lowered, and everybody engaged.
  • Actively ask input from less vocal individuals. If they aren’t comfortable speaking up, follow up post-meeting to understand their point of view.

Timeboxing

Each meeting should have a predetermined time limit. It promotes efficiency and keeps discussions focussed.

During meetings, remind participants of the time remaining. By doing this, your team has a better shot at maintaining a sense of urgency, prioritizing important discussions, and enhancing productivity.

Assign a “rotating” timekeeper. Sharing this responsibility improves everyone's understanding of the importance and benefits of timekeeping.

Effective Communication

Help your team members express their thoughts concisely, focusing on the key points and avoiding unnecessary details. Active listening is equally important. 

Use visual aids, such as whiteboards or digital collaboration tools, to enhance communication. Visuals help to tell the story and clarify complex ideas.

Encourage everyone to keep the language simple and the terminology specific to the project. This helps improve comprehension and alignment.

Handling Conflicts

Conflicts can (and probably will!) arise. It is crucial to address them in a constructive way and keep a positive team dynamic. Stay alert and attentive to signs of disagreement or tension. Step in where needed, giving those conflicting a chance to express their perspectives. Then work with the team on finding a resolution rather than assigning blame. 

It may be necessary to schedule separate sessions to address conflicts, to allow the team to stay focussed during the meeting.

5 Tips for making Scrum meetings as valuable as possible

Whew!—we've covered a lot of ground. Let’s finish up with a few more tips to maximize the value of your Scrum meetings.

tips to maximize the value of scrum meetings graphic

1. Set very clear goals and objectives

Every Scrum meeting needs clear goals and objectives that align with the overall project vision and that everyone completely understands. Whether it’s the daily stand-up, sprint planning, review, or retrospective, communicate in advance. This allows your meetings to become purposeful and result-oriented.

2. Celebrate success and give recognition.

We tend to take delivery for granted. Don’t forget to celebrate successes and acknowledge the efforts of team members! Everyone enjoys a pat on the back. It works miracles for creating a positive team spirit and improves engagement, trust, and collaboration, which again leads to more productive and valuable discussions.

3. Keep the meeting focused on the topic

Focus focus focus. Keep the focus on the topic and avoid unrelated discussions—don't be afraid to call out tangents and re-direct the group's attention. If new topics emerge that require further discussion, jot them down and follow up outside of the meeting. 

This enables efficient use of time and allows the team to address critical matters.

4. Encourage open and honest feedback

Open and honest feedback is a cornerstone of effective Scrum meetings. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. Keep them on the process and outcomes rather than the individual. 

When done right, you will find that your meetings become opportunities for learning, growth, and continuous improvement.

5. Continuously improve the process

You can only improve based on feedback. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the meetings, and ask participants how to make them more valuable. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with meeting formats, time allocations, or discussion techniques to find what works best. 

By continuously improving, your meetings become increasingly efficient, effective, and valuable over time.

Unlock your team's true potential.

Scrum meetings are the heartbeat of the Scrum framework. They drive collaboration, adaptability, and iterative progress. 

Although this article offers a detailed overview and practical tips, it’s important to remember that the true power of Scrum meetings is in the participants. 

As you go on your Scrum journey, remember that the success of your meetings relies on fostering a culture of trust, respect, and continuous learning within your team. 

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By Klaas Hermans

Klaas Hermans, has 10+ years experience in product management, digital and innovation, ensuring value delivery daily. He enjoys energizing and motivating teams that create and exceed product expectations.