Over the years I’ve done lots of work with Scrum teams and I appreciate that Sprint Demo/Review meetings can be a useful way to give stakeholders visibility of features implemented prior to pushing out a product release. Teams that find this way of working helpful typically work in larger organisations, where they don't have the capacity to make frequent software releases due to restricted access to servers or a heavy reliance on manual regression testing. However, the ceremony of Sprint Review may be propping this system up allowing teams to work in a pseudo-Agile way placating stakeholders while delaying the release of valuable software.
Nowadays I work at Unruly with XP teams who don’t hold such demos because we practice continuous deployment. Code is deployed to live environment at the earliest opportunity and often in use within our business a couple of days after planning. Where we don’t want all of our users see new features, we can put in a toggle to restrict visibility. When features are already live, the ceremony of getting together in a meeting room with stakeholders is pretty pointless. Although we do ensure that stories are signed-off by business people, often a single story owner who we’ve been working closely with during development.
How do our wider stakeholder group (Sales, Marketing teams, etc) know what product features are currently released and find out details of how they can be used? As each story finished, developers send a release email out to internal users and organise education sessions for whoever needs to know how the new feature works. We also took some inspiration from Joe Walnes’ Testing on the Toilet and Aimy (our product manager in New York) creates newsletter-style posters for our company washrooms to illustrate and explain new features now available. We have even tried Release-Email Driven Development for a few stories, where we write the release email before starting development to ensure we've thought things through from a user perspective.
The only situation we might consider holding Scrum style demo meetings is when we are working on a totally new unlaunched product. But even then, our practice has been to make a live version available to a restricted group of internal stakeholders so they can access the product and play around with it themselves. Last year, for our Unruly Analytics product we even integrated wireframes and sketches (see pics below) into the evolving product as placeholders for screens that had not been implemented yet to provide some context for the live features.