Want to learn how to run a successful project kick off meeting? This article will cover everything you need to know about project kick off meetings and how to achieve the best outcome.
When starting a new project, the people involved come together to discuss how to bring it to life. A kick off meeting is held for team members to collaborate and formulate a plan to realize the project's goals. It's an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and set the tone for future meetings for this particular project.
Here's how you can run a well-executed project kick off meeting:
- What is a kick off meeting?
- When to plan a kick off meeting?
- What is the ideal outcome of a kick off meeting?
- What is the purpose of the kick off meeting?
- What happens if you DON'T have a kick off meeting?
- Are all kick off meetings the same?
- How do you prepare for a kick off meeting?
- How do you start a kick off meeting?
- What is discussed in a kick off meeting?
- How long should a kick off meeting last?
- What is a kick off meeting agenda?
- Tools and methods
What is a kick off meeting?
A kick off meeting is the first meeting between the client, project manager, and team members working on a new project. This type is also called an external kick off meeting, which is a critical element at the beginning of any project.
As a project manager, you may meet up with your team first in an internal kick off meeting before including the client. Your team members should understand the project's objectives and how to achieve them.
When to plan a kick off meeting?
The best time to plan for a project kick off meeting is after your project plan is created and before project initiation. You should have a clear outline for the project's scope, purpose, goals, and other essential details and allow your team to ask questions about the upcoming stages.
What is the ideal outcome of a kick off meeting?
By the end of the meeting, the team should have a solid comprehension of the project's goals, how to work on them, and how to successfully complete the project.
➕ Extra bonus. Try sending out a thank you email after the meeting is finished; it has a positive effect on attendees and enhances meeting productivity.
What is the purpose of the kick off meeting?
So why have a kick off meeting in the first place? Read on to find out.
For one, it's the ultimate way to jumpstart the project from the conception stage to the execution stage.
Gathering the whole team together ensures everyone is in tune with the project's direction. It's the perfect opportunity for the team members to inquire about any details required for project completion.
It's not enough to merely send an email with the project's details. You'd have to meet everyone face-to-face (so to speak) to eliminate any miscommunication.
In a kick off meeting, everyone gets to voice their opinion about how they see the project, anticipate potential problems, and discuss ways to fix them.
Lastly, one of the most important aspects of a kick off meeting is to boost the team's morale and get them excited about starting a new project. It should cover the project background, why it's essential, the problems it's tackling, and how to measure its success in real-time.
What happens if you DON'T have a kick off meeting?
If your team doesn't meet up with the client in the initiation phase, they won't see eye to eye in the various phases of the project. The team will not meet the client's expectations for the project and end up wasting valuable time to make major adjustments or, worse, fail to complete the project.
Are all kick off meetings the same?
The nature of the kick off meeting differs from one project to another. For instance, a client-facing project kickoff meeting typically includes a well-prepped project presentation, a demo, or any visual aids that help the attendees picture what the project should look like.
On the other hand, internal kick off meetings don't have to be too sophisticated or formal and may just be a get-together to discuss the broad lines of the project.
How do you prepare for a kick off meeting?
You might be wondering, "So how can I prepare for a kick off meeting?" We're going to walk you through it step-by-step.
To run a successful kick off meeting, you need to form an efficient plan to achieve the desired outcomes. Here's how you can prepare for a project kick off meeting:
1. Identify the project's core objectives, project deliverables, and end goals
This step is crucial for structuring the project's plan and selecting the best team for the job.
Create a project kick off meeting checklist to ensure the project's goals, objectives, and deliverables are in perfect alignment.
2. Assign team members to the project and outline their responsibilities
The project's team size depends on the project's scope and magnitude. Prepare a contact list including all team members with their contact details, time zone (if variable), responsibilities, and department to facilitate communication.
Identify the project's sponsors or stakeholders and set a plan with your team to know how to communicate with them throughout the project.
3. Outline the project's risks and expected outcomes
The team must be aware of the client's expectations from the project and the risks they may face. Acknowledging these risks will allow you to set a reasonable deadline for the project to make it easier for your team to prepare for the expected workload.
4. Establish an initial project plan
Developing an initial plan or creating project initiation documents is a great way to set a solid structure that you could build on throughout the project. It allows you to outline the assignments and deadlines for each phase in the project, which helps you allocate essential resources for the project and foresee potential risks.
Remember that this plan is not supposed to be perfect; it should just be a clear draft with an estimate for the workload, required resources, and deadline.
When you step into the kick off meeting, you'll use the project plan to validate its elements with the team and adjust it accordingly. Make sure to share the initial plan with your team to include them in the process from the get-go.
Screenshot from adam.ai: Sharing files with attendees
5. Determine the project's endgame
To determine the project's success, every team member should know what it should look like in the end. Make a clear list of items required for the project's endgame and confirm the list with the client.
6. Set a date and time for the project kick off meeting
Once you're done with the plan, schedule a time with your team and the client to have the kick off meeting. Set it at least one week ahead of time to ensure everyone has cleared their schedule.
7. Send an email including the meeting materials to all attendees
After scheduling the meeting, share the materials, like the meeting's date and time, meeting agenda, initial plan, and contact details, with all the participants.
Encourage them to take a look at the plan before the meeting and write down any questions they can ask in the meeting. Dedicate around thirty minutes for Q&A to clarify any vague points and finalize the project's plan.
Screenshot from adam.ai: Inviting meeting attendees and including agenda
8. Revise the plan before the meeting
This step is important to identify the key talking points during the meeting to keep things organized and ensure a smooth flow. Take notes of the potential risk factors and hurdles the employees may face to discuss them in the meeting.
💡 Pro Tip. Use all-in-one meeting management software, where you can easily prepare for your project kick off meeting, generate meeting minutes automatically, share meeting agendas, send meeting invitations to attendees in sync with Google Calendar or Office 365, and upload the project's initial plan beforehand for easy access. Find out how adam.ai integrates with other apps from this link.
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How do you start a kick off meeting?
So what's the best way to "kick off" a kick off meeting? Stick with us to find out.
The first step in a kick off meeting is to let the team members get acquainted with each other. Take a few minutes to allow new members to get to know the existing team to increase team engagement during the meeting.
A great way to enhance team engagement is to prepare a few icebreaker questions for team building to allow the team members to get to know each other.
What is discussed in a kick off meeting?
After primary introductions, it's time to dive into the subject matter of the kick off meeting:
- Mention the project's purpose to inform your team what they'll be working on and why this project is important. This serves as a headline to which the team refers whenever they're trying to resolve issues to optimize their work and achieve the project's ultimate purpose.
- Discuss the project's initial plan by going over each item step-by-step to give an overview of the upcoming assignments. Mention key aspects like the project's timeframe of completion, with a deadline assigned to each project milestone, project deliverables, potential risks and obstacles, and other details.
- Provide a project background and introduce the client to the team. If the client is present in the meeting, give them a chance to talk about the project so the team understands who they're working for and what the client wants to see in the end.
- Specify the project's scope for the team to work efficiently toward the end goal. If they don't have a structured framework, they could end up wasting a lot of time and effort working on aspects that are out of scope, which could cause major delays in the project's timeline.
- Mention each member's responsibilities and assign a contact person for people to refer to in case of any hurdles. Clarifying people's roles in the project will facilitate communication among the team.
- Inform your team where they'll update their task completion status to track the project's progress at each stage. Use one source as a reporting tool to easily locate the project's information.
- Dedicate a segment of the meeting for Q&A to tackle any confusion head-on and give the team an opportunity to add their input to the process. The main purpose of the kick off meeting is to ensure everybody is on the same page.
Screenshot from adam.ai: Creating action items
9. After the meeting, it's important to follow up with an email including the meeting minutes with everything shared to keep up with the project's main goals.
The kick off meeting is a great way to encourage team collaboration and optimize the communication process between the client, project manager, and team members.
Using adam.ai, you can organize the meeting's objectives, desired outcomes, share the initial plan document, automatically generate meeting minutes, type action items, and send all this information to all attendees after the meeting.
Try out adam.ai to enjoy its exceptional features and manage your kick off meeting more efficiently.
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How long should a kick off meeting last?
A kick off meeting may last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Of course, this depends on the project's magnitude and number of participants in the meeting. However, it's best to keep it short and simple without going into too much detail.
It's important to create a specific timeframe for your meeting to avoid going off track, cover all talking points, and allow the attendees to ask questions. One of the cool features of adam.ai is that it allows you to assign a specific timeframe for each talking point during the meeting.
Let's say you want to dedicate 10 minutes for introductions, 20 minutes for project layout, and 15 minutes for Q&A. You can create a timeline for each segment using the meeting timer feature, which allows you to start, pause, and finish your meeting and alerts you when each time segment is over.
This helps you make the best use of the meeting to avoid wasting valuable time and conduct a time-efficient project kick off meeting.
Screenshot from adam.ai: The meeting timer
What is a kick off meeting agenda?
A kick off meeting agenda is a set of guidelines used to steer the direction of the kick off meeting. It helps you stick to the schedule and create an efficient timeline for the meeting.
Make sure to share the meeting agenda with the team before the meeting to allow them to prepare and contribute to the meeting.
A simple meeting agenda should answer these five questions: (1) What is the project background? (2) Why are you creating this project? (3) How are you going to complete the project? (4) Who are the people working on the project? (5) When is the project considered successful?
A meeting agenda is important because it is the perfect place to mention key dates for the project's milestones to ensure everyone on the team is on track and recognizes their duties and responsibilities in the project.
Check out how you can create a meeting agenda on adam.ai from this video:
Kick off meeting agenda template
Feel free to download this kick off meeting agenda template and customize it to your needs.
More meeting agenda templates
This agenda is one of many more free agenda templates, created with every team's needs in mind. Feel free to download the ones that you use the most, customize them to fit your team, and make the most out of every meeting.
- Team meeting agenda template
- Board team meeting agenda template
- Quarterly planning meeting agenda template
- Standup meeting agenda template
- Status meeting agenda template
- First meeting with new team agenda template
- Brainstorming meeting agenda template
- Skip-level meeting agenda template
- Sales team meeting agenda template
- Retrospective meeting agenda template
Tools and methods
While working on any project, the team will need to use different tools for communication and tracking progress throughout the project. Some examples include the following:
- Jira/Asana: a work management tool to track progress throughout the project.
- Google Drive: a shared document platform to ensure everyone working on the project has access to important files.
- Google Calendar: a place to schedule all project-related meetings.
- Slack: a multi-purpose communication tool to allow teammates to reach each other easily.
- Trello: a work management tool to stay on track with assignments.
Check out these 32 productivity tools for remote-working teams that will make your life a bit easier.
💡 Pro Tip. Use all-in-one management software to avoid distractions of jumping from one tool to another and for easy access of having your schedules, documents, all project-related meetings, chats, and the meeting itself in one place.
The bottom line
A kick off meeting is crucial at the beginning of any project. It's the stepping stone to creating a successful project within the specified timeline.
Create a simple, informative kick off meeting agenda to ensure the whole team stays on track throughout the project. You can customize the kick off agenda template in this article to fit your project's needs.