Kickoff meetings don’t have to be the dreary affairs they usually turn out to be. With the steps outlined below for a successful kickoff meeting, you can start seeing real results whenever you bring the team together.
1. Do Some Pre-Planning
How many times have you walked into a kickoff meeting with absolutely no idea about what the meeting was going to cover? One of the biggest mistakes that many people fall into when organizing kickoff meetings is that they treat it as an absolute first step—doing no preplanning whatsoever.
To ensure your meeting starts out on the right foot, make sure you do some legwork first and come up with a game plan. Come up with ideas relevant to the main goals of the meeting, and possible obstacles. Draw up an agenda, and prepare challenging questions to jumpstart creative and critical thinking once the meeting gets underway.
Share your agenda with the attendees and encourage everybody to come prepared with relevant ideas which they can contribute. The success of your meeting is strongly dependent on the amount of planning that goes into it!
2. Invite the Right People to the Table
A huge part of a successful kickoff meeting is who you’ve got around the table. In general, you want as many people as are able to represent all the departments that are relevant to the project you want to kickoff.
Even remote teams can benefit from this and the more diverse the group, the better: simply because the meeting is centered on a new marketing initiative does not mean that the engineers cannot have a voice at the table, especially if some engineering is involved in the new process.
Make sure you narrow attendance down to one member of each department, so that you not only save working time but also narrow feedback to one coherent voice.
3. Keep the Focus on Goals and Expectations
Anybody who has attended kickoff meetings before knows how easy it is to descend into small talk. When this happens, the real goals of the meeting are often shunted aside and nothing besides a few obvious yes and no queries are discussed.
Define a set of goals and expectations for the project, and keep the meeting focused on those throughout. Sure, you may have the occasional icebreaker here and there, but the meeting should always come back to these set goals and how they can be accomplished.
Your goals and expectations for the project can even help put to rest any disagreements that might arise. Whatever idea that crops up which does not contribute to the overall goal can be shelved for later.
4. Outline Next Steps
It doesn’t end with the meeting! Even more important is what you do afterwards. After the meeting, you want to digest all that has been discussed and agreed and decide what the first steps are going to be and who does what.
Most times waiting a few days may be waiting too long.
Gather all the ideas in a shared document like a Google Doc or a whiteboard, and start making assignments once the kickoff meeting closes. Our project management application of choice is TEAMWORK.
Consider your project started!