When a feature doesn’t take off it’s easy to assume it’s because Sales doesn’t know the product or Support can’t explain it. But you know what? It’s our responsibility as product managers to ensure they do. We’re not here to release features, but to solve real problems and, by doing so, bring in new customers and more revenue. That’s why we need to rethink sprint reviews (or internal product demos, whatever you call them).
Stop seeing them as a place to go into the nitty gritty of how a feature works. Yes, you need to show the product, explain how it works, but also why you built it in the first place. So your go-to-market teams know exactly how to tell customers about it and get everyone hungry to see it.
There’s only one problem. Bringing everyone together at the same time is not easy. We often try to squeeze a quick product demo in the all-hands, but it feels rushed and superficial. And when we do have a dedicated meeting for a sprint review, people that can’t attend don’t have an easy way to access important information afterwards.
So how can you turn your sprint review into a meeting everyone can and wants to attend? Keep reading.
When to use the Sprint Review Playbook
If you follow the scrum framework, you already have a sprint review as part of your scrum ceremonial. But if like many of us you’re moving away from scrum, it still makes sense to keep it. Once you finish working on a feature and before releasing it in production, you need to create this space to tell the story, show the product in action, and answer questions.
In this playbook, you will find a new perspective on sprint reviews to help product managers drive engagement and keep key stakeholders eager to watch sprint demos.
How to get started
Why you need (different) sprint reviews
No, we’re not saying you need to hold multiple demos for every single feature (a bit against our motto “Less Meeting. More Doing”). What we’re saying is that different audiences will have different needs. Your sales team will ask you about the problem the feature solves and what’s the value for your customer. The support team, on the other hand, wants to know all the details so they can write the documentation and get ready to answer questions from users. So how do you avoid having a 3h long meeting? Enter feature tiers.
We’re not going to give an exhaustive explanation on feature tiering, but the main idea is this: you need to categorize feature releases in order of importance, from brand new features (Tier 1) to small tweaks (Tier 3). For each Tier, you will need a specific communication plan to ensure a successful release. While a Tier 1 feature will need a full go-to-market plan, a Tier 3 might just need a new entry in your F.A.Q. documentation.
This distinction is important because it also specifies who your stakeholders are for each Tier and if a product demo is needed. The more mission critical a feature is, the more exhaustive your communication has to be and you will probably need multiple sprint reviews for the different groups. Which brings us to the next section, preparing your communication plan.
Prepare your communication plan
We all have a short attention span and we can’t retain a lot of information at once. Worse, we forget roughly 56% of what we heard in one hour, 66 percent after a day. That’s why it’s so important to understand how much detail to give and tailor your message to your audience. So the first step is to group your stakeholders:
- The inner circle: this is your core group and includes everyone in the go-to-market teams. You may not be able to speak directly with everyone, so you should either rely on the manager or appoint a product champion, typically from the Sales team. These people need to understand the top-level info as well as the specifics to include in the sales pitch and answer customer queries. This normally translates into multiple meetings and back-and-forths until everyone “gets it”.
- The broader group: Then you have the rest of company. They still need to be in the know, but with much less detail. This can be a challenge. You need to show the product, but you don't have the time to work with all the teams. To reach this group, you can do an internal product demo during a company all-hands meeting, send out a Slack message with the release information, or include it in the company newsletter.
Remember: it's your responsibility to explain why you worked on that feature and ensure everyone can talk about it with confidence.
The next step is preparing your sprint review and demo, and here is where video collaboration can help.
How to communicate effectively with video collaboration
Ok. So you have your feature Tiers, you grouped your stakeholders, now it’s time to get your message out. How can you guarantee your message has been broadcasted to as many people as possible? This will depend a bit on your company’s culture and
- If you’re in an async-first organization, record your sprint review on video. Video is more powerful than a written release note, as people can better understand the product when they experience it. You can record multiple videos with different levels of detail or record a longer one. If you choose Claap to record your sprint review, you can easily pin key moments and create sections with video annotation.
- If you’re in a meeting-first organization, our advice here is to record your sprint review meeting so that people that can’t attend can still access it. You also create a knowledge base for future hires.
- if you’re a hybrid organization, consider a mixed approach. Important updates are given in person and recorded (for Tier 1 features at least). For Tier 2 and Tier 3 feature it can be done async. Or you can also chose one way or the other depending on your workload.
How to do async sprint reviews
Prepare your recording
Before recording your demo, it is important to take the time to properly prepare the following elements in order to ensure an effective presentation:
- Define a main message: It is essential to avoid getting lost in the details. To ensure the key points of your presentation are remembered, try to sum up the main idea in one succinct sentence.
- Craft a story: It is important to provide an outline of the high-level context of the problem, solution, and specs. Additionally, include links to supporting documents to help to demonstrate the feature in greater depth. This can help to provide a more comprehensive overview of the project.
Record your sprint review
Then, structure your demo is three parts:
- Explain the global workflow: Walk your team through the global workflow by displaying wireframes in your Figma file.
- Show the final mocks: Move on to the final mocks to show your team where they stand. Point out important factors in the final decision.
- Explain the tickets: Describe the different tickets created that are linked to this feature. (I would say that this is optional. For a demo of a big feature at the company level, you won’t come into such details)
When recording, you can easily jump from one document to another by selecting full-screen sharing. Read more here.
Share your recording
When you're ready to share your recording, you have a few options:
- Send it an email as part of you weekly updates or company newsletter
- Centralize your sprint reviews in a dedicated topic in your Claap workspace. Your team knows exactly where to find them. Plus, when you integrate with Slack, you can increase visibility when new sprint demos are available.
- Include the recording's link in a Slack message, in the Jira/Linear ticket.
- Embed the video in a dedicated Notion page.
Answer questions and align stakeholders
As mentioned before, it's essential to make sure everyone understands why you're releasing a product and can communicate it effectively to potential customers. To do this, it is important to ensure that all questions asked in your claap video are answered in a timely and accurate manner. You can also mention others in your team best suited to answer specific questions. This allows for the most efficient use of everyone's time and resources and avoids any unnecessary delays.
To sum it up, a sprint review is your best chance to get everyone excited about what’s coming up and eager to tell the world about it. But they take time and require coordination between multiple teams. By combining meetings with asynchronous communication, you ensure that everyone is on the same page and the product release is successful.