Hold a good kick-off meeting.
Want to get your project off to a good start? Lead a meeting that will motivate participants. Learn important kick-off meeting tips.
Table of Contents
- Project management
- Definicja: co to jest kick-off meeting?
- Goals of the kick-off meeting
- Types of meeting
- 12 tips to make your kick-off meeting a success
1. Project management
Managing a project is all about skillfully moving from phase to phase into which it is divided. The kick-off meeting is a key moment in such a process. It’s the transition from planning to execution of the project and setting the course for the duration of the project. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen the motivation of the participants in the venture by, among other things, clearly showing the benefits of the project being implemented and presenting the goal. It is also important to establish the order of each stage and set procedures and responsibilities that will work out the desired outcome of the group work. Read how to exemplarily conduct such a meeting!
2. Definition: what is a kick-off meeting?
The term “kick-off” comes from the world of sports and means “to kick off.” Transferred to the business world, it describes the inauguration of a new project, its beginning. The kick-off meeting takes place after the project is planned and before the actual implementation begins. It is attended by all members of the project team, client, supplier, stakeholders.
Agenda for kick-off meeting
- Welcome and introduction of team members.
- Discuss the purpose of the project and expectations from the project.
- Costs of the project – what benefits the company hopes to achieve from the costs incurred.
- Discuss the strengths of the project.
- Discuss the risks of the project.
- Presenting the project plan (available time, schedule).
- Explain roles, tasks, area of responsibility of team members, % time commitment.
- Discuss the specifics of the selected work model (project culture).
- Discussion of the planned course of communication.
- Presentation of tools used and documentation needed in the project.
- Next steps in the project, upcoming deadlines.
- Words of motivation for the team.
- Time for: opinions, comments, ideas, associations, thoughts of the assembled team, suggestions.
Download a free PDF template of the “kick-off meeting” Agenda. Print it out and take it to the meeting! To download the document, click HERE
3. Goals of the kick-off meeting
- Project participants get to know each other personally.
- The project and its importance is presented to everyone in one tone.
- To gain top management support for the project.
- To make the team aware of the benefits of participating in the project.
- Strengthening the team spirit.
- The scope and division of tasks of the team will be presented.
- Each participant will see his/her role in the team/project.
The goal of the meeting is achieved when each participant leaves equally informed and with a sense of commitment to the project. Information from the same source, immediately illuminated through a question and answer session, means that the risk of misinformation is reduced. It is possible to get off to a quick start with clear rules and no doubts among participants. An inadequately conducted kick-off meeting can have the opposite effect and make participants doubt from the very beginning whether the project will succeed. Therefore, the most important goal of such an event is to motivate the team and commit them to a common cause.
4. Types of meeting
Choosing the right type of kick-off meeting depends largely on the number of employees involved in the new project and whether they work in several locations or in one office (or at least in the same city). The three most common types of kick-off meetings are:
- Standard office meeting of up to 7 people
Internal projects are usually inaugurated with an office meeting. This form is sufficient if there are not too many participants. It is assumed that their optimal number is 5-7 people. Then the meeting maintains fluidity, and everyone has a chance to voice their questions or observations. It is important to take into account that the concentration of the participants decreases significantly after 90 minutes, and plan the meeting so that it does not get longer or has clearly designated breaks.
- All-day Meeting more than 12 people
If the project is extensive or requires a meeting of more than 12 people, plan a longer meeting with a clear schedule. It can even last a full day – but it is important to inform the people involved in advance about the length of the meeting, its course and planned breaks. All-day work on a single project also requires participants to arrange their week’s schedule, so it’s a good idea to make sure everyone is able to keep the meeting date.
- Closed meeting – such as event meetings
High-profile inter-city meetings can be held in conference centers designed for such events. They often offer additional entertainment, such as cruises or sports games. Such activities help integrate a dispersed team. It can last longer than 1 day – occupying an entire weekend, for example. Proper choice of venue and planning well in advance (including sending out invitations) make the organization more demanding, but the nature of such a meeting allows for an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of the project, and everyone has time to voice any concerns.
Regardless of which variant of kick-off meeting best suits your project, it is important not to lose sight of the main goals of the meeting: a good introduction to the topic and arousing the motivation of the participants.
5. 12 tips to make your kick-off meeting a success
The impact of the first meeting on the overall course of the project cannot be underestimated. Learn the most important tips for running a kick-off meeting! Skillfully bypass the biggest danger → the creation of the impression that the project is poorly organized or perhaps even irrelevant. Show yourself and the planned project in a reliable way that will make each participant eager to get involved.
- Introduce the team
Ensure an inclusive atmosphere. A kick-off meeting brings together people who often associate only by sight or a single lunch. Use this meeting to make sure the new team gets to know and remember each other well. They will work closely together in the near future. Let them be flesh and blood people to each other, not email addresses and phone numbers. A well-functioning team is more than the sum of its parts!
- Clarify the goals of the project
What is the project about and what are its goals? Clarifying these questions is a major part of the entire panel. Clients and project managers can make a significant contribution to the motivation of project members. Therefore, it is important for each participant to get answers to questions such as: → What is my impact on the project? → How can I contribute to the success of the project? A sense of the importance of one’s competence in the implementation process strengthens identification with the project goals.
- Name the project
Apple uses terms from the animal kingdom, such as cheetah, cougar and tiger. Microsoft uses geographic knowledge with names like Chicago, Memphis or Daytona. Coming up with a project name can be a fun group task that will stimulate participants’ initial interactions. Forging a name together can reinforce identification with the project.
- Clarify participants’ roles
From the outset, ensure that each participant knows his or her responsibilities. Clarify what the expectations are for employees or associates. What part of the project depends on their involvement and who to contact in case of problems. If each participant knows his or her task and understands how he or she contributes to the success of the project, the willingness to act increases. Another positive effect: misunderstandings and disputes over competence are prevented from the very beginning.
- Bring everyone to the same level of knowledge
Where different employees come together – especially from different departments – the level of knowledge and experience is often uneven. Some already know the subject, while others need a more detailed introduction. The kick-off meeting should be used to put each participant at the same level of knowledge. This ensures that the employee does not lag behind others from the beginning and strives to achieve the same goals.
- Discuss channels of communication
Unfortunately, in project work it is often difficult to get everyone together for a meeting at the same time. Especially when some people work in different locations. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify how communication between participants takes place. Can conference calls be held? How often should the entire team meet to discuss progress? Is there an email distribution list? Clarifying these things upfront saves time and nerves during the actual project phase.
- Clarify the objectives
Imposing tasks without understanding the goal is very frustrating for the doers. During the kick-off meeting, explain the overall goal of the project, as well as the sub-goals along the way. Several smaller sub-goals have a more positive effect on the motivation of those involved than a big goal that seems unattainable.
- Build trust
The project manager should use the kick-off meeting to build the participants’ confidence in themselves and their skills. If there are doubts at the kick-off meeting about the suitability of the person to lead the project, these doubts will carry through the entire project and be reflected in the results. The meeting should be planned and organized very carefully. Trust can also be created through credibility. Those who give the impression of withholding information or shifting responsibility will not be able to gain the trust of others.
- Generate excitement
If participants in a kick-off meeting are confronted only with facts and figures, they will not fully engage with the project. This is a new challenge and this is the way to present it. Positive excitement about achievements will motivate the team and make them enthusiastic about their tasks. Anyone who describes skydiving simply as jumping from an airplane with a subsequent landing will not be able to motivate the audience. However, the story itself can create a unique adrenaline rush and thrill, and then the listeners will want to take part in such a challenge.
- Speak vividly
Words can convey your message, but you’ll do better by illustrating your thought with photographs and infographics. Pictorial language activates a larger area of the brain, namely the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and thus ensures longer storage of related content. Metaphors and familiar sayings are great for memory retention, especially if reinforced by a pictorial message.
- Take notes of the meeting
The findings of the kick-off meeting should in any case be recorded. When they are distributed to participants after the meeting, you can guarantee that they will be better remembered. Before the start of the meeting, appoint someone to take notes during the meeting.
- Repeat important messages
The first success of a project is when the participants of the kick-off meeting leave the conference room feeling “informed” and motivated to take action. Going forward, however, it is important to ensure that the level of motivation remains constant. The brain tends to remove from memory things that are not repeated. Therefore, the most important messages should be recalled regularly. A good method is to do recaps and ask for feedback from participants.