The awesome Agile ceremonies that will revolutionise your comms team 

In my opinion, comms and marketing teams are often the unsung heroes in many organisations.
We’re often juggling a LOT of different projects, trying to stay on top of rapidly changing technology and tools, while also dealing with ever changing requirements.

It can easily become overwhelming – but that’s where Agile comes in!

Whether you’re an in-house comms team or an agency, embracing Agile will help you wrangle your ever-growing to-do lists while keeping your sanity.

Of course, being Agile is about more than just doing the ceremonies, it’s about values, principles and practises that prioritise transparency, flexibility, collaboration and continuous improvement.

But for today, let’s talk just talk about Agile ceremonies.

Agile ceremonies are like regular check-ins and team huddles where teams collaboratively plan, share progress, and fine-tune their approach to create awesome things! They help keep the work moving and ensure everyone knows what’s happening. They’re the secret sauce to high-performing teams.

The Agile ceremonies you need to know

There are lots of Agile ceremonies you could learn and implement in your comms team but today, I want to share the top three that I think you absolutely should be embracing. They are:  

  • Sprint planning  
  • Standups  
  • Retrospectives 

Sprint planning 

I love working in sprints!  
They’re where we outline the activities we plan on working on during a set period, say two weeks, and have them constantly visible for everyone on a board – like Trello.  
These sprints help keep people focused, reduce overwhelm, and maintain momentum   

Normally, in a software sprint, you are not adding new tasks, but the nature of comms means that sometimes urgent surprise tasks appear that have to be worked on.  

We call these drop-in tasks. I find it handy to colour code these so we can have visibility on how much time is spent dealing with unplanned tasks, which means we can estimate how much time we need to build in for them when planning our workflow.  
 
Still not quite sure about working in sprints?  

Imagine you’re in a comms relay race. You’ve got a team of creative runners and your goal is to cross the finish line with something you’re proud of.  

But spoiler alert, you can’t sprint the whole way to the finish line! This is more like a marathon relay.  
That’s where the sprints come in. We do our best to totally smash it in these short bursts. We’re not running the whole marathon at once, we’re breaking it into smaller, more manageable pieces.  

By working in sprints, we’re making the massive marathon that is comms feel less like a never-ending run and more like a fun series of action-packed dashes.  
 

Now you’re not just winning the race, you’re winning it with stamina and style.  

The agile communications team in the middle of an agile ceremony using postits on a white board.

Standups 

OK, so traditionally standups are held daily, but I’ve found with remote comms teams who work on lots of different projects with multiple clients, sometimes weekly stand-ups work better.  With some of our clients we tend to hold these fortnightly – it really depends on your team and how you work.  

Standups give the team an opportunity to say: 

  • what you completed/worked on last week 
  • what you’re planning to do this week 
  • and anything you’re blocked on 

If you are blocked or stuck on something, hopefully someone else on your team can help you get unblocked! 

These standups help keep work moving and aid in the transparency and collaboration we value. 

Think of it like a superhero huddle. You’re gathered in a circle, ready to tackle the day’s challenges. In this lightning-fast meeting, each team member gets their moment in the spotlight. They share what they did yesterday (cue the superhero achievements), what they plan to do today (your daily missions), and if they need help (time to call in the reinforcements). 

These standups help keep the work flowing and ensure everyone has clear visibility of the work being done by the rest of the team.  

So, picture it: Your team, standing tall, each member taking their turn to be a superhero with their daily mission. It’s not just a meeting; it’s your daily chance to save the day and make things happen! 

Oh wait! I didn’t even explain why they’re called standups. It’s because you usually stand up while you have these catch ups. It helps keep them short and to the point – we hate meetings that drag on needlessly. I even knew one team who used to plank during these meetings but that might be taking it too far!  

Retrospectives 

As Woody Zuill says:  

“If you adopt only one Agile practice, let it be retrospectives. Everything else will follow.” 

Retrospectives can be done in many formats, like the 4 L’s, sailing, start stop continue and so on.  
But whatever the format, the aim is to look at work that’s been done and how things can be improved in the future. They’re an opportunity for everyone to voice their experiences and opinions in a safe space.  

I always like to start retrospectives with a quote from Norm Kerth: 

“Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.” 

I also like to do a safety check-in where everyone votes anonymously on post-its with a score of 1-5.  

5 being totally safe and 1 being not at all. These answers will inform how I facilitate the retrospective because if people aren’t feeling safe, they won’t speak up honestly and it all becomes pretty pointless if you’re not getting to the truth of how people feel.  
If they’re not feeling safe, I might let them write on post-its anonymously and I’ll stick them on the board and share them with the group – so no one knows who wrote what.  If you’re doing this, make sure everyone has the same colour post-its otherwise it becomes pretty obvious who said what.  

Still a bit unsure?  

Think of it like this, you’re a group of time-travelling detectives who want to go back in time and make things better, which would be pretty cool huh? 

You gather around your time machine (or whiteboard as they’re more commonly known) ready for a retrospective. You look back at your recent mission (or project) and discuss what went well, what didn’t, and how you can be more awesome in the future.  

Now you’re not just watching things happen, you’re also taking action to make things better. You’re like a futuristic Sherlock Holmes who is working on the case of the comms team capabilities.  

The thing about retrospectives is that they HAVE to be a safe space. No judgement, just a desire to learn and grow together.  

Need a little Agile awesomeness help? 

Feeling excited? Want to shake things up in your comms team and add some Agile ceremonies but not sure where to start?  
Don’t worry, we know the idea of revolutionising your team can feel a little overwhelming. But we’re here to help and bring Agile awesomeness to your team, one post-it at a time.  
 
Get in touch today and we can have a chat.