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Presenting Scrum with Passion

6 December 2013

Rick Regueira
IPC Subway

As Scrum coaches and trainers, we are often called to make presentations and speeches. I know many Scrum presenters who are constantly working on updating the content for their presentations. But then they disregard the most important part of the speech: its delivery. After a week, most people only remember 10 percent of a speech they hear -- and guess what 10 percent that is? Decker Communications likes to refer to the SHARP Principles:
  • Stories from the heart
  • Humor, fun
  • Analogies (simple, everyday activities)
  • References (quotes)
  • Pictures/visuals (conceptualize visuals)
Great content will make your speech good, while a great delivery will make your speech memorable.

We had an amazing High Performing Team Conference in Miami in October that brought in great local Agile speakers. During the selection process, we made sure to select speakers who followed many of the recommendations listed below.

I also had an opportunity, on November 13, to see Ryan Avery present "How to Be a Better Speaker" as part of his North American tour (, and I was able to capture a few notes. Here are things to consider next time you're making a presentation to a Scrum audience -- or to any audience:

Speeches should be simple, powerful, and relatable

  • Keep your presentation simple. Simple always wins.
  • Tie your introduction to the conclusion of your speech.
  • In the body of your speech, address only three stories.
    • Make each story have a point.
    • Have a constant theme that links all three stories.
    • Someone has to teach you something, so don't be the hero: Ryan felt that people do not want to listen to a speaker strut (or complain) about their accomplishments. This usually distances you from the audience.
  • Paragraph versus poem: When writing the speech out for yourself, on a pause hit "enter" to go to the next line. That helps you remember your speech patterns as you're reading to the audience.
  • Drop the props; let the audience use their imagination.
  • Speak in 3-D. Engage your senses. Examples: smell and taste. Can I "taste" my speech? Color the different senses throughout the speech; but make sure these turns of phrase are well spread out.
  • If you had to take one message across the Grand Canyon to only one person, what would that message be? Who would that person be?
  • Don't think of it as a speech but as a message from the heart.
  • Speak with confidence and in the moment. Communicate in an active voice, not passive tense.
Review Simon Sinek's presentation at Consider the Golden Circle concept: There are three questions: why, how, and what. Most people start at what and proceed to how rather than why. Successful people start with why and then lead to how and what.


Ryan put up a simple diagram (below) that illustrates the different focus approach. Successful people focus on a specific point (the upside-down triangle), and then broaden themselves to get to that point.


My example for why we had presentations, in a speech at the Miami meeting:
  • They bring us one step closer to creating a more united society.
  • They represent South Florida companies coming together to share their experiences.
  • Today's presentation is on continuous delivery best practices.
To cover the same topic, starting with what instead:
  • We are here to talk about continuous delivery best practices.
  • We will share our experience and guide you through our lessons learned.
  • We care about our community.
  • Never tell a joke; instead, share a failure. It's more personal.
  • Dress to relate to the audience. You are one of them.

Practice, practice, practice

From my last speech class (Decker Communications, "Making Impact and Changing Habits," I remember one interesting statistic: What counts in communicating, or the three V's of communications:
  • Verbal: 7%
  • Vocal: 38%
  • Visual (what people see of you): 55%

Additional lessons learned

  • Know your audience.
  • Smile.
  • Vary your tone of speech (be careful to avoid a monotone).
  • Join Toastmasters.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4 (6 ratings)


Bob Jiang, CST,CSP,CSM,CSPO,REP, 12/6/2013 2:34:32 AM
Rick, from the beginning of your article, I am guessing whether you are a toastmaster member, and you are in the end.
Absolutely toastmaster is a good place to failure to try public speaking. Suggest other trainers to taste it.
Sriramasundararajan Rajagopalan, CSP,CSD,CSM,CSPO, 12/8/2013 10:04:58 AM
Rick, This is great synopsis. Regardless of how long how long one has been in front of the audience, there are always techniques to learn. The reference to SHARP technique hit a home-run. Thanks for sharing this article. Can you direct me to the Decker communication that you refer to here?
Rick Regueira, CEC,CSP,CSM,CSPO, 12/9/2013 7:48:42 AM

A 2-day training program from Decker Communications called “Communicating to Influence”. This program reviews the behavior and content for enhancing communication skills. This program will be detailed in reviewing the Decker Grid for creation of presentations that can be used either in a formal meeting or a conference call. Presentation skills are also reviewed where the participants practice their presentation skills and receive feedback. We offered this training last year and received very positive reviews
David Lowe, CSP,CSM, 12/17/2013 4:20:10 AM
Nice post Rick. I joined Toastmasters earlier this year and already it's having an amazing impact on my speaking ability (although I do say so myself).

I heard the why-how-what theory recently too and it makes total sense: it doesn't make sense to tell people how or what is happening until they know why.
David Lowe, CSP,CSM, 12/17/2013 4:22:35 AM
I also agree wholeheartedly about stories in talks: they are by far the most memorable element (especially when humorous) which is evidenced by the fact that it is the stories that people first mention when they see you again months later.
Deema Dajani, CSM,CSPO, 1/19/2014 8:59:09 AM
Very good article Rick, and a fresh perspective gaining support for the move to Agile.
Rick Regueira, CEC,CSP,CSM,CSPO, 4/26/2014 1:14:44 PM
Great feedback.

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