In the last 20-odd years, the agile methodology has become standard for software development and other fields.
Agile is a form of project management that emphasizes team collaboration. The scrum method (a kind of agile development) breaks down big projects into manageable chunks called sprints and relies on consistent communication between team members to keep projects on track.
Scrum masters and product owners achieve that communication with meetings. In this article, we’ll guide you through the five kinds of scrum meetings and give you tips to make the most of them while avoiding common pitfalls.
What is a scrum meeting?
A scrum meeting is any meeting held by the scrum team, which is made up of people who are in charge of delivering product features. These teams are led by a scrum master and product owner.
Scrum meetings facilitate communication between the development team and other product stakeholders. Consistent, honest communication is prioritized for agile methodologies such as scrum and kanban because work moves so quickly.
What’s the importance of scrum meetings?
The scrum framework relies on several recurring meetings that agile teams hold before, during, and after each sprint.
You might be thinking, that’s a lot of meetings. But for the scrum methodology, each meeting serves a specific role in the development process. They help teams:
Identify potential roadblocks or impediments before they become critical
Reflect on what went well and what didn’t go so well during a sprint
Improve the next sprint
Clarify the responsibilities and expectations for each sprint cycle
5 types of scrum meetings
Within the scrum framework, you’ll schedule each of these different types of scrum meetings as the sprint cycle progresses:
1. Sprint planning meeting
The sprint planning meeting happens at the beginning of your sprint, which is usually two weeks long. The purpose of the meeting is for your team to decide which user stories (features) from your product backlog to tackle so you can achieve your sprint goal.
During the meeting, the product owner gathers the entire scrum team to explain how the team should complete each step of the project. Scrum team members discuss what can be realistically completed during the time frame of the sprint.
Sprint meetings last two hours for each week of the upcoming sprint. So, if your sprint is two weeks, your meeting will be four hours long. At the end of the session, everyone should know their tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines.
The sprint planning session ends with a sprint backlog (your team’s tasks) and a sprint goal. A sprint goal is a statement that outlines the main objective of the sprint.
Sprint planning meeting agenda template
You’ll need an agenda so your sprint planning meeting is productive and focused. Send this template with the meeting invite to give the team time to prepare.
2. Daily scrum / daily stand-up meeting
Daily standups are meetings you’ll be holding each day of the sprint.
A daily standup or a daily scrum meeting lasts for about 15 minutes at the start of each day. The strict time-boxing is meant to keep the meeting light, quick, and focused.
The objective is for each team member to give a quick status update or flag a roadblock.
There are three main questions that every team member answers during the meeting:
What did you do yesterday?
What are you working on today?
Are there any impediments?
Despite the simplicity, these three questions tell product owners a lot about the status of the sprint and whether tasks are progressing as expected. The ritual also fosters teamwork and open communication among all team members.
3. Sprint review meeting
The sprint review meeting happens at the end of your two-week sprint. This is when the product development team shows off their deliverables to the product owner, scrum master, and other relevant stakeholders.
Also known as a product demo, the meeting is a chance to demonstrate the functionality of the product at the end of each sprint. Since the scrum process relies on frequent and honest conversations to make the product better, this is when the team gets feedback based on the sprint goal.
Some feedback may require additional work. These tasks should be added to the product backlog for possible inclusion in the next sprint.
Sprint review agenda template
The sprint review agenda should contain these essential items:
Product demo: shows off the final product iteration of the sprint
Evaluating user stories: confirm what’s been completed and discuss what’s unfinished
Product backlog: assess and adjust it
4. Sprint retrospective meeting
A sprint retrospective also happens at the end of the sprint, but its objectives are a bit different from the sprint review.
During a sprint review, the product owner and other product stakeholders review and assess the results. During a retrospective, the review focuses on the scrum team itself.
The main questions to ask at a sprint retro are:
What went right?
What went wrong?
What can we do differently during the next sprint?
This meeting should be long enough for productive discussion to take place but not so long as to burden the team. An hour or two should be enough. And unlike the sprint review, there’s no need to involve anyone but the scrum team members.
Even if the sprint went generally well, there’s still room to reflect on the process. Continuous improvement is the name of the game in agile methodology, so don’t rest on your laurels.
That said, the discussion should be friendly, impartial, and non-judgmental. The scrum master or the meeting facilitator needs to make this point clear to avoid negativity.
Sprint retrospective agenda template
As with all meetings, an agenda helps steer the discussion and keep everyone engaged. Here’s our sprint retrospective template that you can customize to your needs.
5. Backlog refinement meeting
The backlog refinement meeting is the final ceremony in the scrum process. During this meeting, the team analyzes and refines the product backlog items in preparation for the next sprint planning meeting.
These items, often written as user stories, need to be refined before they can be included in the next sprint's backlog. During this meeting, the team will have a technical discussion with the product owner to ensure that everyone is on the same page about the deliverables and their requirements.
While having another meeting may seem unnecessary, it’s important to note that the better the backlog is refined, the easier the next sprint planning meeting will be. In reality, backlog refinement should be an ongoing process and not just a time-boxed event. This means that the team doesn't need to wait until the end of the sprint to refine the backlog if they feel like they need to.
It's worth noting that the backlog refinement meeting used to be called "product backlog grooming", so if you come across that term, now you'll know what it means.
Backlog refinement agenda template
If you need an agenda, we have a backlog refinement agenda template for that. In your agenda, you’ll want to hit these key items:
Prioritize the backlog items
Align your backlog items with the KPIs and OKRs
Add more detail (refine and explain) to the backlog items
5 best practices for better agile scrum meetings
Running a good scrum meeting requires some skill. Here we’ll give you some tips on how to become a scrum ceremony pro.
✅ Have agendas for your scrums
Having an agenda for meetings is essential for effective communication and preparation.
Vowel offers built-in agenda templates to simplify the preparation process and make it easier for scrum team members to know what to expect. These templates can be used as-is or customized, and are automatically shared with participants along with the meeting invite, eliminating the need for separate documents or link sharing.
✅ Stick to the schedule
Encourage team members to be on time for recurring scrum meetings so you’re honoring the time-boxing principle of agile scrum methodology. Every minute wasted is a minute that could have been used productively.
To help with staying on track, Vowel provides built-in agenda timers that remind everyone to keep discussions in line with the schedule.
✅ Be clear about objectives
Meetings that are unplanned, unpredictable, and unclear aren’t productive — and people dread them. A clear objective for the meeting, listed in the agenda, will help you avoid this.
For example, the objective for a daily stand-up is to share task progress updates, but for a backlog refinement meeting, the objective could be to refine user stories or prioritize items for the sprint backlog.
Always communicate the objective of the meeting to avoid confusion and surprises among team members.
✅ Set sprint goals
With scrum methodology, it's important to make sure sprint goals are met. The daily scrum meeting, for example, is an opportunity to check in on whether this is happening. Always assess whether or not team members' tasks contribute to your actual sprint goals, not just busy work.
If the team strays from the goals, it's the responsibility of the scrum master to bring them back on track.
✅ Monitor and optimize your scrums
Agile and scrum are all about continuous improvement. This applies to your product, your development process, and your business as a whole — and it also applies to your scrum meetings.
As you hold more scrum meetings, you may notice patterns and trends. What seems to always go wrong and what generally goes right? These are important questions to ask yourself, and the answers will help you optimize the process from end to end.
Vowel can help with built-in transcription and recording for your meetings. The transcription is time-stamped and accessible on your dashboard, along with collaborative meeting notes, bookmarks, and any clips you've made.
This is how your scrum meetings can become a knowledge base that's shareable and searchable, which can ultimately help you evaluate and improve them.
Mistakes to avoid during scrum meetings
Scrum methodology involves many moving parts, and meetings are just one of them. Given how important they are to keeping things on track, here are some common mistakes to avoid:
❌ Don’t wait for latecomers — start your meetings on time anyway.
❌ Don’t introduce new product ideas during scrum meetings; that’s not what they’re for. Schedule separate meetings so that team members can pitch new ideas and engage in brainstorming.
❌ Never discourage team members from sharing impediments and roadblocks.
❌ Don’t skip the sprint retrospective. It’s common for teams to say they don’t have time for it, but the sprint retrospective is a key component of the scrum process that serves to help you continually improve.
Start running better scrums
Take your scrum guide to the next level with Vowel, a virtual meeting platform that’s packed with features to make agile team collaboration easier. Here's what one of our customers has to say about using it to improve the software development process:
Vowel turns all your meetings into searchable, shareable knowledge that you can use asynchronously. Make it easy to review and improve your end-to-end scrum process by signing up now for free.