Kickoff meetings are the first meetings that you have with the project’s team, where you define the project’s building blocks, and map out the initial road map. The kickoff meetings is a vital element of a successful project, as it introduces the members of the team to each other, as well as to the project’s client. The kickoff meeting is where you get together, formally introduce the project.
Your team should come out of it super energized and ready to rock!
But how often does this happen? How many times has your kickoff meeting actually kicked off the project – they usually consist of no more than repeating details you’ve heard before, the meetings are boring, and the team doesn’t exactly feel motivated to spring into action when they leave the room.
Want your next kickoff meeting to be awesome?
1. Before you start the meeting, make sure everyone has has an opportunity to be heard.
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Before the kickoff meeting, talk to the people involved. You manage the project, true, but you don’t know if it’s better to develop using Android 4.2 or HTML5. You don’t know if it matters whether you have Linux or Windows servers.
Your team does. Talk to them, make sure you understand the issues involved in the project, and make sure that your team is involved as well. Don’t forget, making your team more involved in the project means that they’ll be more committed to it’s success, as well.
2. Make sure you have a set agenda for the meeting – and that everyone knows about it
The agenda helps fill in the blanks for people coming to the meeting. It shows what’s about to be discussed, so they can come prepared with their ideas (hopefully) and their objections (probably). Sending the agenda a few days before the kickoff not only makes sure they’ll come prepared, but also leaves some leeway for adjustment, as some might have things to change or suggest (see point 1).
3. Establish project guidelines
When will the project begin?
What’s the deadline?
How often will you need to provide the client with a working demo?
Who does what in the team?
Who is responsible for group updates?
4. Meet. Together. Physically.
This one might be tricky if you’re dealing with team members that don’t always work together, but when you’re kicking off a new project, nothing beats face-to-face communication (yet). The subtexts of human body language just aren’t conveyed as well over the phone or screen, and when you hold a kickoff meeting you want to be able to read and see your entire team. You want to know how they are feeling, how to energize them to bring about the best possible project – and that’s only possible when you’re all sitting around the same table.