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How to Organize a More Engaging Sprint Retrospective?

Continuous improvement is the key to success when working in an Agile environment or a Scrum framework. The best way to ensure the team and process improves continually is through Sprint Retrospectives.

A Sprint Retrospective gives the team much-needed time to reflect after concluding a Sprint. They can look at what they did right and what needs some improvement. This way they have a clear idea of what is working and what needs refinement to ensure the best outcomes for the next Sprints.

That said, for any Sprint Retrospective to yield positive results, it needs to be engaging to ensure everyone can share their views. 

What is a Sprint Retrospective?

A Sprint Retrospective is one of the 4 basic meetings in the Agile framework, and it happens after the Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning.

The meeting gives the team time for introspection. They look back at the just concluded Sprint and analyze how they worked to determine what went well and what needs improvement. The team then makes a plan to implement any changes and improvements agreed on.

A typical Sprint Retrospective will last between 1 and 3 hours and is attended by the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the Developers. The Scrum Master runs the meeting, but Developers can also be facilitators.

Other important meetings in the Agile framework include Sprint Planning meetings, Daily Stand-up meetings, and Sprint Review.

How to Make Spring Retrospectives Meetings More Engaging

Plan Ahead of Time

Panning ahead of time is the key to success for all meetings in the Agile framework; retrospective is no exception. 

The Scrum Master should plan how they will run the retrospective meeting and make the best of the little time allocated for the meeting.

A good plan ensures no time wastage and that the meeting will be as productive as possible. With proper planning ahead of time it is easy to ensure every team member will be fully engaged.

Create a Dedicated Space for Retrospectives

Where the meeting takes place will have an impact on the level of engagement. A dedicated space for Sprint Retrospective should be private to encourage free discussion and improve engagement among the team members.

The space should be set up to encourage everyone to participate and ensure no one feels like a spectator. 

For example, a semi-circle arrangement around a whiteboard is a fantastic idea. Such an arrangement allows everyone to feel they are on the same level as others and see whatever is presented on the whiteboard.

Have Clear Action Items

Every retrospective meeting in Agile needs clear action items. These will be like the meeting agendas, and they will help keep everyone focused and encourage participation.

For instance, the meeting can start with a simple item that gives everyone something to discuss. Focusing on a specific and clear action item keeps the conversation going, which is just what is required to ensure maximum engagement.

Break the Ice

Ice breaker questions are an easy way to set the mood for a retrospective meeting. They help create a collaborative tone and environment for the meeting. Also, they make the team members comfortable talking with each other.

Remember that although they are part of the same team, they have different roles and responsibilities in the Sprint. They might hence be unfamiliar and thus uncomfortable with each other. 

Simple icebreaker questions that get them talking and thinking create a friendlier and more comfortable environment.

Show Some Gratitude

Team members will be more comfortable providing feedback if you show them their input and experiences matter. You have to create a space where they feel safe sharing their experiences and feel appreciated.

The Scrum Master running the meeting should listen actively as members contribute and write something down where necessary. Also, after the presentation, the Scrum Master should thank the member for their contribution. 

All this shows gratitude and that the team member’s contribution matters. 

Try Different Formats

If, after trying all the tips above, your Spring Retrospective is still not as engaging as you would want, you should try a new format.

Retrospectives should be team-driven and freeform, meaning they need to conform to the specific needs of a team. 

You should not use a static format. Instead, keep trying new structures to refresh things and ensure you get something that suits the meeting outcome you want.


The Agile framework is about experimenting and learning during a Sprint to improve the next ones. A Sprint Retrospective provides an excellent opportunity for introspection so you can gather the information and feedback required to keep improving.

But, the retrospective also needs to be engaging enough to deliver desired results. There are several ways to do this, from planning well ahead of time to trying out different retrospective formats. Try as many of them as possible until your Sprint Retrospectives get more engaging.

  1. https://asana.com/resources/sprint-retrospective
  2. https://www.parabol.co/resources/agile-sprint-retrospective-techniques/
  3. https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/how-run-sprint-retrospective/
  4. https://www.projectmanager.com/blog/effective-sprint-retrospective



Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.