Using Videos to demo

For the last few sprints we’ve been demonstrating our user stories (i.e. completed work) using the medium of video. It’s been really interesting to see how the teams have moved to video with ease.

The videos are often hilarious, some featuring more tech wizardry than others but all of them a great show of creativity.

I tweeted about this a while back and a couple of people asked why we would go to the effort of creating videos to show our features. Well here’s some reasons:

The demonstration were choppy during switch overs as teams had to sign in, get the system to the right state to show the new work and articulate clearly the story to the audience.

All demonstrations are at the mercy of the demo Gods. Sometimes they work, sometimes they fail – even though they may have been working just moments before (mostly it was due to logging in to the wrong accounts, dialling the wrong number, slower connection in the meeting room, nerves, data now in the wrong state after practicing the demo). We now simply line up each video and play them one at a time pausing for questions in between.

If you miss the demo you miss the demo. So for those that can’t make it to the meeting they don’t get to see the demo of the product. Videos let us post them somewhere central for the business to view at their leisure.

Also, as we move forward we will be starting to add the video demos to a central source when the feature is actually finished, which could be just a day in to the sprint. As we release to live weekly when we demo the feature to the wider business it may already have gone live. With regular release comes a new set of communication challenges! This allows the business to see the features as they become available, not just in one big chunk at the end of the sprint.

So the videos have helped this greatly. They have also been a great laugh to create and they are brining out the creative juices in the team. Not only are they experimenting with new video techniques but they are also working hard to communicate the right messages to the right audience, which is a great skill to have.

The only constraint we’ve currently set is that the videos shouldn’t take more than one hour to make. Ideally they will take just 30 mins or less, but some of the features are tricky to explain. We’ll see how it goes. Like most things here we are constantly tweaking and optimising.