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How to Run an Engaging Sprint Retrospective Meeting [+ Free Templates]

Run an effective and organized sprint retrospective meeting with our free templates and examples.

By Hannah Ross  •   February 25, 2022  •   6 min read

Are you gearing up to run a sprint retrospective meeting? These tips, tricks, resources, and templates will help you ensure your next sprint retrospective meeting is conducted efficiently from start to finish. 

What is a sprint retrospective meeting? 

A sprint is a defined amount of time that a team dedicates to completing a subset of tasks, and sprint retrospective meetings are designed to reflect on these sprints. Sprint retrospective meetings are usually recurring meetings that are held at the end of a sprint in an attempt to reflect on what went well and what can be improved for the next sprint. These meetings are essential for developing and managing complex projects. 

Organize your thoughts

Keep track of what worked and what didn’t all in one place to have organized retrospectives. Try using a collaborative tool like Fellow to include the whole team!

When should a sprint retrospective happen? 

Ideally, the sprint retrospective takes place after the final task within the sprint has been completed. These meetings are usually the last thing to occur within a sprint, and the entire team responsible for setting up and participating within the sprint should be present. It’s important to conduct these meetings before too much time has passed. Failing to conduct these meetings in a timely manner may make the sprint retrospective content irrelevant—at the least, it won’t be top of mind. When scheduling this meeting, be sure it corresponds with the passing sprint as opposed to a sprint that occurred weeks ago. 

How long should sprint retrospective meetings last? 

Determining how long your sprint retrospective meeting should last comes down to the meeting’s content. Constructing a meeting agenda that outlines each topic to be addressed is a quick and easy way to determine how long your meeting should last. It’s important that you have ample time to cover everything you need without extending the meeting to a point where participants are disengaged. 

8 steps to running a sprint retrospective meeting

1 Prepare in advance 

The key to any great meeting is preparation, and a sprint retrospective meeting is no exception. There are numerous ways you can prepare in advance, including having notes on the sprint, curating the perfect guestlist, and creating a meeting agenda that encompasses the key talking points. Not only is it important for you to prepare in advance, but it’s also important that everyone invited to the sprint retrospective meeting has the same opportunity. Don’t forget to circulate the meeting agenda beforehand to make sure everyone’s on the same page! 


2 Use a meeting agenda to stay on track 

You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again: no agenda, no attenda! Without a meeting agenda, your meeting won’t run smoothly, and you may even forget to mention some crucial details that could have led to excellent outcomes. To avoid forgetting to relay important information, make sure to leverage tools like Fellow that enable you to create a comprehensive meeting agenda you can integrate into tools you’re already using on the daily. Connecting Fellow to the tools you love will make your meeting, management, and productivity workflows even better. 

3 Ask sprint retrospective questions 

Seeking feedback is crucial, and you won’t gain valuable insights if you don’t ask the right questions. As the host, you’re responsible for structuring the conversation in a way that yields favorable results. A great way to unlock key insights is to ask your teammates questions like:

  • “What did you like in the sprint?” 
  • “What’s still puzzling you?” 
  • “What didn’t work well?” 
  • “What do you think we could do to improve future sprints?”

4 Set boundaries for discussion 

As the sprint retrospective meeting host, you should keep the conversation moving. There’s nothing worse than a talking point that derails an entire meeting. To avoid this happening, you need to set boundaries and guidelines that speak to desired flow of communication throughout the meeting. 

Popular tactics include leveraging meeting agendas and templates that encompass meeting guidelines, and indicating talking points so everyone in attendance knows when it’s appropriate to speak up or chime in. You can also leave room in your templates for questions or open discussions so you don’t run the risk of running out of time during your sprint retrospective meeting. 

5 Keep it positive, not personal 

As the meeting host, you’ll need to put your personal feelings aside. You may have personal opinions or feedback, but it’s possible to convey those thoughts without letting your emotions cloud your judgment. As the leader, you should do everything in your power to set the groundwork for a positive meeting. If everyone in attendance feels good, they’ll be more receptive to feedback, and they’ll be more inclined to share their honest thoughts and opinions. Without a positive environment, you won’t be able to get key insights that can be used to shape future sprints. 

6 Document the discussion

Documenting key happenings is imperative. Not only does doing so provide you with a reference point for future needs, but it also means that people who weren’t able to attend the sprint retrospective meeting can get up to speed. The most important work often comes after the meeting, which means recording action items in one spot so your team has clear objectives is crucial. Gathering all of this information after the meeting can be difficult, but tools like Fellow’s meetings feature allow you to centralize everything (including discussions, decisions, and action items) that occurs within your meetings. 

7 Assign clear next steps 

If your teammates don’t leave your sprint retrospective meeting with clear next steps, they won’t be able to move forward effectively. They have to know exactly what’s expected before the next sprint. If you fail to communicate these next steps, you may not see the improvements you had been hoping for. The purpose of a sprint retrospective meeting is to make improvements and iterations, and doing so will be nearly impossible without a clear action plan that points participants in the right direction. 


8 Make it fun! 

Sprints are a crucial part of success within many organizations, and making the iteration process fun and exciting is a great way to keep everyone’s spirits high. There are so many different interactive elements that you can use to mix things up depending on your intended outcome. Take dot voting for example: if your team is looking to determine which insights or ideas are most important, consider using the dot-voting method to draw your conclusion. Instead of having lengthy, drawn-out conversations, you can keep things moving by telling everyone to put their dots on the point they feel most strongly about. At the end, you can count the dots and draw your conclusions. 

Free sprint retrospective templates 

Host a killer sprint retrospective 

Get ready to conduct your next sprint retrospective meeting with confidence. Hosting effective sprint retrospectives is a crucial skill that every manager or leader should have. Being able to do so will help shape future sprints that yield favorable results. These tips, tricks, best practices, and templates will ensure you have everything you need to conduct an effective sprint retrospective meeting that leaves your teammates feeling understood, heard, and organized. Ready, set, sprint (retrospective)!

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