The kickoff meeting is one of the most crucial parts of the project. Get it wrong, and it will be an uphill battle to delivery. Get it right, and you’ll have smooth sailing. How do you plan the perfect kickoff meeting, and what do you want to avoid?
The first thing you want to accomplish with the kickoff meeting is getting your team to buy in to the project. You want their commitment, their best efforts, and their enthusiasm. To do this, you need to appeal to their sense of being valued, to the challenge, and by giving them a vision. The kickoff meeting should feel exciting. If you plan to just show spreadsheets and speak in a monotone, you won’t get your team to buy in to the project. Create a presentation that oozes excitement, that creates a vision of the future, and that appeals to your team.
You’ve presented the project goal – now you need to start the project plan. Do this collaboratively. It gets the team to buy in, helps them feel valued, and starts the project off with everyone’s input. Go around the room, hear everyone’s perspective, ask for feedback and ideas. When the plan is ready, make sure the team is clear on it, approves of it, and feels good about it. When there’s a solid plan, that each team member contributed to, the project is already off to the best start it can have.
Pay attention to work assignments
Look closely at people’s reactions to the work you assign them. If someone seems annoyed or overwhelmed, you might have given them an assignment they aren’t qualified for…or too many assignments! Balancing the workload isn’t just about the number of tasks you assign, it’s also about which ones you assign. You don’t want negativity creeping in to the project, and you don’t want your team feeling like you’re riding them too hard at the beginning. Make sure you play this smart.
Nail down those three, and your project will be off to a good start. Get your team to buy in by giving them a vision, a say in the workplan, and managing their workload. Your project will be up and running at maximum speed, building momentum from the first minute.