Agile meetings are all about setting your team up for success on their first sprint. But ensuring your team has the right fuel, equipment, and training is what will get them to the finish line. Ready, set, go!
Learning how to run an efficient meeting will secure team alignment, unblock any potential development issues, and redirect efforts that’ll improve your project’s success rate.
What is an agile meeting?
Agile methodology is used in both product development and project management and utilizes fast and focused “sprints” to deliver results. Each agile team schedules “scrum” meetings to align and assess the tasks needed for the next sprint.
Related: What is Scrum? Scrum methodology overview
Agile meetings are usually composed of a group of people who work full-time on one project with shared accountability.
Agile meetings can be virtual or in-person, with the goal of reaching project alignment.
What does an efficient agile meeting look like?
An efficient agile meeting should be frictionless, where teams clearly understand the focus of the meeting and the current state of the project.
Each participant should leave a scrum with a clear understanding of their next tasks, the current state of the project, and the goals of the upcoming sprint.
Efficient scrums create a place for clear communication and transparency on the tasks required. With scrum meetings, teams are hyper-focused on their tasks and can be honest about the state of these tasks. This allows teams to pivot quickly when faced with problems.
Efficient agile meetings also have clear accountability, with each participant understanding their responsibilities and impact on the team’s effort. This is because agile meetings continuously communicate with team members on the state of their progress.
4 types of agile meetings and how to run each one effectively
There are four different types of agile meetings, each one serving a unique purpose.
1. Sprint planning
Sprint planning is for the scrum team to discuss their tasks in the upcoming sprint.
The goal of this meeting is to have a clear definition of the sprint’s goals and to divide tasks between the team. This often involves the need for a backlog list to prioritize tasks between the team.
How to run a sprint planning meeting
The sprint planning meeting sets up the foundations for the next sprint's work, so it requires the attendance of the development team, the product manager, and the scrum master — a team member or collaborator whose job is to make sure the scrum process is smooth and that the team understands the scrum practices and framework.
- Define the goal of the upcoming sprint.
- Prepare and refine the backlog. Here you’ll want to ask your teams what tasks are achievable in the sprint.
- Designate and plan work tasks.
- Discuss the inputs or resources needed for the sprint to be successful.
- Define clear expectations for the output of the sprint.
Tips to improve efficiency in your sprint planning
Sprint planning requires more time and preparation than other agile meetings. This is because the meeting calls for past tasks and resources, so the scrum master and product manager must do research beforehand.
Here are a few tips to help the sprint planning move smoothly and keep your team on track:
Keep track of time
Timebox the sprint planning for no more than two hours. Time management will ensure that the meeting is focused on the tasks at hand and respects the team's working time. This is the scrum master’s responsibility, and they can use timer tools to keep the team on track.
Define clear goals
Creating a sprint without a goal is like looking at a map without a north. It has no direction.
Use a digital whiteboard
Using online whiteboards enables teams to visually understand the sprint and the tasks at hand. Teams can centralize information on the whiteboard and use it as a reference for the sprint. Additionally, remote Agile teams rely on these tools for reaching alignment and coordination projects on a daily basis.
End the meeting with a Q&A
Keep time at the end of the meeting for the team to ask questions or for clarification. This keeps everyone on the same page.
2. Daily scrum standup
Daily scrum standups are fast meetings used to keep the team informed of each individual’s progress from the previous day.
Daily scrums help teams inform the scrum master about any challenges to their tasks. This gives the team transparency on roadblocks and allows the scrum master to devise a plan of action.
How to run a daily scrum standup
Daily scrums (also known as standups) are quick 15-minute meetings that kick off the team’s daily tasks. By the end of the meeting, each team member is informed of their team’s progress and any roadblocks to look out for.
- The scrum master fills out the scrum’s information and sprint number on a daily scrum template
- The scrum master calls out the participants and asks three questions. These are: 1) "What did you do yesterday?", 2) "What will you do today?", and 3) "Do you have any blockers?"
- The scrum master fills out the daily scrum template, marking each task as accomplished, in progress, or on hold.
Tips to improve efficiency in your daily scrum standup
Daily scrums need to be quick and focused on task progress rather than discussing strategy.
Here are a few tips that will keep your daily scrum quick and efficient:
Focus the conversation
Daily scrums inform the team on the status of tasks, not how to fix them. Any problems raised must be assessed outside of the meeting time.
Use a timer
Use a timer to keep participants within their talking time limits. This ensures the meeting cadence is quick, so everyone can communicate their progress and carry on with their daily tasks.
Keep the same update order
Scrum masters should call out members in the same order daily. This ensures everyone is ready and prepared for their turn, avoiding delays like “unmuting mics” or outside distractions.
3. Sprint review
Sprint reviews are for team members to demonstrate their output, completed tasks, new features, and how they fixed any bugs or issues.
The sprint review is conducted after the first sprint. The goal is to learn from one another’s tasks and experiences. The aim is to adjust inputs and timelines to improve output quality.
It’s also an opportunity for team members to ask questions and provide feedback on what has been done.
How to run a sprint review
Sprint reviews spotlight each team member’s task progress and accomplishments.
- Do a quick 15-minute team check-in to understand your team’s current energy. This will help build team camaraderie before giving feedback to one another.
- One by one, each team member presents their finished tasks and what tasks are in progress. Each team member should go over what they did and if they faced any issues.
- If possible, the participant should show a demo of their product.
- The floor is open for questions and feedback for the team to discuss and improve the quality of future output.
- The scrum master should write down all the items and feedback on a sprint review template for future reference.
Tips to improve efficiency in a sprint review
The following tips will help your team feel comfortable participating in the sprint review. In turn, increased communication will improve work quality, team knowledge, and project success.
Hand out a meeting agenda beforehand
Send each participant an agenda before the sprint review. This helps the team prepare the documents and products they’ll need before the meeting and ensures no documentation or product is left out in the review.
Centralize information, documents, and materials in one place. This will help the team individually access materials and knowledge. Having a shared digital space makes it easier to keep track of all your progress.
Pro-tip: Try this sprint review template from Mural to easily facilitate an effective sprint review.
4. Sprint retrospective
A sprint retrospective occurs at the end of the sprint and after the sprint review. It gives the team the opportunity for honest reflection and feedback on the project and the process for future improvement.
How to run a sprint retrospective
The purpose of a sprint retrospective is to focus on project improvement.
- Start the meeting with some friendly icebreakers.
- The scrum master asks the product owners and product manager the following questions: What worked? What didn't work? What can be improved?
- All the feedback is added onto a sprint retrospective template.
Tips to improve efficiency in a sprint retrospective
Sprint retrospectives provide valuable insights for project quality improvement by understanding each stakeholder’s opinions and experience.
Start with some icebreakers
Team-building exercises like warmups or icebreakers can quickly warm a team up and build psychological safety, a crucial element for constructive feedback and project improvement.
Ask probing questions
Don’t ask your team questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Dig deeper and ask questions that require well-rounded answers. For example, instead of “did you encounter any challenges?” opt for “ what challenges did you encounter?”
Use a virtual collaboration tool like Mural to run retrospectives, which offers features like private mode, where each team member can write on sticky notes that are only visible to the scrum master. Once all the notes are in, the scrum master shares the diverse thoughts with the group. That way, no idea or feedback is influenced by other team members.
Tips for Remote Agile team meetings
- Be intentional about systems and processes
- Focus on important work and save time by using templates
- Prioritize collaboration in your Agile teams
Learn More: For Agile strategies and templates, check out the Getting Agile: Four Strategies To Bring Out The Best in Your Distributed Team.
The real work begins after you’ve finished the meeting
Agile meetings are a great touchpoint between team members to understand one another's progress and work in unison. However, the real work begins the moment the meeting has finished.
To help support your team, you need information and documentation. You need to keep good track of your meeting outcomes, to-do tasks, and backlogs to support your team. Each meeting will give you insight into which team members need more resources, support, or time.
Mural can help product teams keep track of progress and meeting outcomes in a dynamic format, helping you visually understand the trajectory of a project and anticipate where you will need to step in to keep things on course.
For more techniques on helping Agile teams do their best work remotely, check out Mural’s guide Getting Agile: Four Strategies to Bring Out The Best in Your Distributed Team.