Demonstrations aren’t presentations, they require bi-directional conversation.

Demonstrations, also known as demos, are Agile’s mechanism to share what the team has been accomplished during the current sprint. At root, the demo is a show and tell that provides the team with a platform to describe what has been accomplished. Demos build confidence and customer satisfaction. They can be done using a simple, repeatable process that straight forward and to the point.  By making sure the process is interactive and the material concise, all of the participants will find the demo engaging and focused. Demonstrations deliver fast feedback, but only if they happen and only if they are engineered to facilitate a bi-directional exchange of information.

The basic mechanism of a demo is simple. Show stakeholders the completed work, let them interact with it and actively solicit feedback. I once heard someone describe this as running toward criticism. Where variations do happen they tend to be driven by scope, which implies different audiences, or by the geography of the team and stakeholders.  The variations in demonstration techniques are less about the goal of gathering feedback than about audiences and enabling the audience to provide the feedback.

Demonstrations occur on the last day of every sprint. They show the stakeholders what has been accomplished during the current sprint. The goal is for the team to gather feedback from the stakeholders so that they build what is needed and what the team committed to at the beginning of the iteration. The transparency created when the team shares its performance allows the team to rush toward feedback, while selling progress. Good demos include stakeholders interacting with the software so that everyone understands exactly what has been developed.

Demonstrations are the team’s mechanism to gather feedback and to ensure they are delivering value. I believe that demos have two currencies. The first is working software and the second is feedback. Teams build cache when they say what they are going to do, do what they say and listen to how their stakeholders feel about what they deliver.