Starting a new project can sometimes feel a little intimidating. You have to do a thorough job of explaining the project, making sure everyone is on the same page and be ready to answer any questions that may come at you. And believe us, there is an endless list of questions your colleagues are going to ask you.
The project kickoff meeting is one of the most important meetings you’ll have in your project’s life cycle. There are many benefits to having one, some of which include: getting some background on the project, setting expectations, agreeing on how to work together effectively and establishing what needs to be done. If conducted properly, kickoff meetings can create enthusiasm and inspire the team to do their jobs exceptionally.
Steps to Nailing Your Project Kickoff Meeting
A smooth start ensures a straightforward project execution, so it’s important to get it right! Follow these easy steps to make your kickoff meeting run efficiently.
Step 1: Inviting the Right People
We’ve all heard those jokes about how a meeting could have been an email. Meetings sometimes get a bad reputation for being a waste of time but this is usually when people think the meeting doesn’t relate to them or their work. The best way to combat this is to make sure you only invite the key players in the project.
According to a Harvard Business Review report, large meetings with many attendees are less effective than smaller ones with just a few individuals. Make sure you ask yourself, “how will this person contribute to the project?”, to confirm you’re only bringing in the relevant participants.
Step 2: Introductions
Not everyone is going to know one another so it’s vital that proper introductions are made ensuring there is no ambiguity as to who is responsible for what later down the line.
The best way to start would be to have participants introduce themselves and explain what their role in the company is. This will be helpful for anyone unfamiliar with the team, and this allows them to know who to contact for certain questions or deliverables.
Additionally, you may want to do an icebreaker to ease the tension and make the participants feel a little more relaxed by breaking up the awkwardness of an initial meeting. Our pro tip would be to lead by example and start first!
Icebreakers can help you learn useful things about your project collaborators, and who knows, maybe you’ll find you have something in common with someone!
Step 3: Have An Agenda
We often don’t know what to expect when going into a meeting. It’s good to give participants a structure of what’s going to happen so they can come prepared with a list of questions ready.
Setting a kickoff meeting agenda also holds us accountable so that we stay on track and carry out the meeting productively, without wasting time on conversations that can get us sidetracked. Statistics show that workers define off-topic conversations as their biggest meeting challenge, so get ahead of the problem and make a plan for everything that needs to be accomplished in your kickoff meeting, to avoid wasting time.
Click here to check out one of our other blog posts on creating a meeting agenda that you will actually stick to!
Step 4: Project Background
When starting something new, it’s crucial to properly understand and be able to explain what came before now.
Background is important as it sets the scene of everything that’s already been done, what’s expected and what the outcome of the project should be.
Everyone is going to have a lot of different questions, so it’s important to give as much context and information as possible. People will still have questions, of course, but try to explain as much as you can and save the questions for later to avoid getting sidetracked.
Taking the time to carefully explain the background of the project allows for easier communication and gets everyone on the same page.
Step 5: Project Plan
This is the part everyone has been waiting for. Your time to shine!
This is when you will need to get into the real details. Go into the meeting with this information already on hand. You will need to outline the project plan, explain the project scope and discuss what milestones you’re aiming to reach.
Start off by talking about the purpose of this project and why it’s important. Discuss the statement of work that’s been agreed on with the client. This will give more information about what’s expected, laying out a timeline of events for everyone involved and painting a clearer picture of what everyone needs to do.
Step 6: Establish Deliverables and Reporting
The more transparent the deliverables, the easier it will be to project the timeline, budget and scope of work involved.
Have an answer ready for the question, “what does success look like for this project?”. Make sure the answer to this is defined and agreed upon with the client before the kickoff meeting, so that you are able to communicate it clearly to everyone involved. Come into the meeting already knowing what the project milestones are and how reporting will be done.
Know which project management software you will be using and who different project participants will report to.
Discuss and agree on a time for status update meetings to ensure that everyone is staying on top of their work and responsibilities.
Step 7: Set Responsibilities
Meeting participants will want to know what exact role they will have in the project. Though people typically know what their job consists of and the role they play in the company, they will be wondering what’s expected of them from this particular project.
Make sure to set out responsibilities clearly, so that there is no room for misunderstanding later down the line.
Now that deliverables have already been discussed, you can start assigning responsibilities for tasks. Be ready to explain who is responsible for which deliverables and who they will be reporting to.
This is the point at which it’s useful to have someone taking meeting minutes, so they can note everything that is discussed, leaving no room for confusion. Alternatively, you could use Notiv’s AI assistant to record and transcribe the meeting. This is precisely why we created Notiv – to save time and resources during meetings! After the kickoff meeting, you can check the notes that were taken and see what was said, word for word.
Click here to get your free trial now!
Step 8: Questions
You may think you’ve covered everything in depth, but there will always be questions, so make sure you leave enough time to answer them.
Questions are going to be one of the most important parts of your kickoff meeting. This is a crucial step when information will be clarified. Make sure everyone has had the chance to ask their questions and encourage them to voice their concerns on the spot, so that you can ease their worries before the work starts.
Effective communication stems from everyone being on the same page and working towards the same goal.
Step 9: Recap
It is absolutely crucial that everyone leaves the meeting feeling like they have a good understanding of what was discussed and what is expected from them.
Don’t leave it up to chance; take the time to quickly recap what was discussed at the kickoff meeting.
Take a few minutes to summarize the background, project objectives, key responsibilities, important milestones and any other key details that you spoke about.
Thank everyone for their time and use this opportunity to say something encouraging that will inspire the team and get them excited to start working on the project.
Step 10: After the Meeting
You’ve said everything you needed to say, you’ve answered all the questions. So what’s next?
Statistics show that after one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented. It would be helpful to send out a follow up email after the kickoff meeting, summarizing everything that’s happened so people can refer to it when they need to remind themselves of the bigger picture.
A quick and easy way to do this would be to send them the meeting notes right from Notiv, where they will be able to listen to the recording or read through the notes. You can even search for a specific word or phrase to save yourself time when trying to remember a piece of information!
This email should be a one stop shop for finding any relevant information that can get forgotten over time. Make sure to open the lines of communication between people, so that they can always refer back to this email when they need to find someone’s contact information.
While you’re at it, include documents, platforms and accesses that participants will need to have when they start working on it so that they’re able to find everything in one place.
Finally, offer to answer any questions that might have come up after the kickoff meeting, or 1:1 meetings with you, if needed.
The Bottom Line
While meetings may seem like a big task at first, they’re really not that daunting once you break them up into small steps with the help of our guide.
These are 10 quick and easy steps to impressing your colleagues and nailing your project kickoff meeting to ensure you set the right tone for the rest of your project.
The most important thing is to come prepared and be ready to inspire the rest of your team!
Interested in More of Our Content?
Check out our article on How To Take Better Meeting Notes: 10 Tips Backed By Meeting Experts