Luis Goncalves

Helpful Way To Express Your Team´s Feelings in a Team Retrospective

by Anthony Petrucci
team retrospective

Express Yourself is a simple Check-In agile retrospective exercise that aims at visualizing the team´s ideas and helping to gather data early in the team retrospective session.

Often it is difficult for people to express their feelings and opinions especially when team members are shy or if there are new team members or even for members with strong personalities.

This activity gives everyone an opportunity to describe how they feel about a certain topic.

Benefits and what to consider before starting

This exercise gets the team members thinking about the events that triggered those feelings, which can lead to a deeper and more meaningful conversation later on.

Since this is an opening activity, it is a quick way to determine the team’s attitude coming into the session.  Additionally, it will be good for those who are ready to jump right into the details.

Sometimes team members go into the retrospective with issues in mind and are very passionate when expressing their opinion. The Scrum Master should be mindful to keep the scope of the conversation on the team’s sentiment, not finding solutions. This should be done in later exercises. Also, make sure the conversation doesn’t carry on too long as this is just a warm up activity.

Timeline to use in this team retrospective

This is the timeline I recommend to keep:

  • Set up 1 – 2 minutes
  • Silent writing 2 – 3 minutes
  • Post feelings 1 – 2 minutes
  • Discussion 6 – 8 minutes


1. Draw a horizontal line or use tape on a white board, window or a wall.

2. Place one post-it note at one end with a smiley face and one at the other end with a sad face to create the range of emotions.

3. Provide each team member with 1 post-it note.

4. Allow the team to write one word that describes how they feel about the last Sprint or any other given topic. Use 2-3 minutes

5. Have the team place their post-it note on the range of emotions where they think their feeling best fits in.

6. Evaluate the emotions and discuss each one individually.

7. Ask the team to explain why they felt that way.  Make sure the conversation does not take more than 8 minutes. The focus is on the team’s current emotions. Solutions to problems should not be discussed yet.

8. Once everyone has shared their emotions, thank them for sharing their thoughts and move on to the next planned exercise.


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Anthony Petrucci

About Anthony Petrucci

Anthony is a Scrum Master, Kanban Lead, former Product Owner, and Agile Enthusiast. For comments, questions, or feedback, please contact Anthony on Twitter @AgileSauce.


Share your point of view

  1. I have used this exercise, and I like it a lot, but it has been over a year since I have had a co-located team. Now I do it with a WebEx annotation. You have to teach the team how to use the tools, but then you get some advantages over the post-Its.