Are you into launching a new project, a software, or a new team, and most of all you want your kick-off meeting to be successful? This post is definitely for you!
Before making it a success, it may be interesting to know what the term kick-off refers to. In sports, the kick-off is the start of a game, a crucial moment as the first minutes of the game may quickly turn out to be decisive.
Transposed into the professional jargon, the term kick-off is often used for a launch meeting: The creation of a new team, the evolution of the strategy, the launch of a new project, … There are many reasons to prepare your kick-off meeting properly, and many risks in neglecting such a preparation.
Without further ado, let’s discover how to make your kick-off meeting a success.
1. The Preparation of the Kick-Off
The fundamental first step not to be neglected is the preparation of your kick-off meeting, as it is for every other type of meeting or workshop.
Follow the Wemanity Kick-Off Canvas for a fruitful preparation:
Step 1: Invite the Right Players
Choose your participants smartly and try to answer those questions by doing so:
- Who must come? What type of public does the meeting target?
- What’s the ambition and intention in inviting them?
- What will be their role in the project?
- What will be the format of the meeting? A common kick-off meeting, or a kick-off split into multiple meetings in regard to the roles involved?
Step 2: Choose the Kick-Off Time
It surely happened to you once – the swirling awkwardness of a meeting scheduled in “down” times: People not listening, participants not even participating, etc. Here, for your kick-off meeting, you will want some active listening and reactions from your audience, and that’s why you’ll better schedule your kick-off in late morning.
Avoid the infamous hour after lunch time, when everybody’s dozing off from digestion or scrolling on their smartphone. You’ll also want to avoid the latest time slots of the day, when everyone’s head is already at home.
Step 3: Define Your Expectations to Find the Right Line-Up
Different types of kick-off meetings exist and some may suit your project better than another, depending on the actions you expect:
- The 25-minute kick-off: a short format is ideal if your only goal is to inform or raise awareness about the initiative which is about to start.
- The 45-minute kick-off: a longer format will fit better for the launch of a project. This happens to be ideal if you want interactions and some time for questions and reactions.
Step 4: Prepare Your Communication Support
Choose the communication support that suits you best, depending on the type of communicator you are.
- A creative communicator: The paperboard or another collaborative solution like the virtual white board are useful tools to draw your ideas, for example. Then, the support can be kept and hung in the room dedicated to your project, or even in hallways.
- A ‘’control freak’’ communicator: your trustful Google slides. This type of support is familiar to you, which is reassuring. It allows to show your ideas in a concise and simple way to the public. In such case, don’t change your old habits.
Good to know: Too many initiatives are nipped in the bud because, after the kick-off, communication dies out, the initiative is forgotten, development isn’t shared, and the initial public feels left out. By including communication at the heart of your initiative, you’ll avoid losing the energy from the launch: Communicate again and again! Every development must be shared through different formats: E-mails, chat, intranet, internal social network, videos, posts, brownbag sessions, open doors,…
2. Defining a Clear Vision: Concrete Goals and a Transparent Roadmap
Step 5: Why Such an Initiative? Take Some Time to Think about It
Your communication goals must be defined ahead of the meeting to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding: You must arrive at your kick-off meeting with clear ideas. To achieve so, take some time to note down your answers, which will help you a lot:
- Why is this initiative launched?
- What are the problems we’re looking to solve?
- What goals do we want to reach?
- How will we do so?
By answering those questions, you’ll gain trust for a very precise reason: You are convinced the initiative will bring advantages to go through your projects.
Step 6: Be Transparent Regarding Your Goals
Whatever the way you use to define your goals, be transparent. Communicate all achievement criteria and the way the project’s success will affect the entreprise’s strategic goals. The more your goals will be precise, the more they will be understandable by all.
Another bonus advice: Besides the communication of those goals, the way the teams will digest them will be as much important. No matter the entreprise’s
expectations, the teams must feel you’re involved in the project, and this comes through an integrating communication. Speak for you and win the audience: ‘’I’ll be happy if, by the end of 2022, we, all together,…’’
Step 7: Don’t Forget the Roadmap
Once the goals are set and said, they must be put into perspective by sharing a roadmap. Major steps of the project must be included in the roadmap, so must the estimated duration of the project and its mandatory deadlines – if there are some.
Here again, the roadmap will need to be transparent. Note down every detail for the first milestone to reach: Date, goal, content, and needs.
3. Identifying Roles, Responsibilities, and Expectations
Very quickly, participants to the kick-off meeting will wonder: ‘’What does it imply for me?’’; ‘’What do you expect from me?’’; ‘’How can I/How do I have to contribute to the project?’’. Yes, the famous ‘’What’s in it for me?’’ rule.
Such questions are indeed legitimate for your team. Take a broad approach and introduce every player involved in the project, wether big or small, before giving what they want to the audience.
- The sponsor: the executive who decides to give time and budget to that particular initiative.
Who are they? Where do they fit in hierarchy? Why are they sponsoring this initiative? What’s in it for them? How will they contribute to the project?
- The project team: the core multidisciplinary team which will be hired and dedicated to the project’s fulfilment.
Be clear about who you worked with in the past in order to show you’re ready for the launch of this initiative. Who is part of this team? How transversal is it? From which jobs and departments all players come from? How much time will they spend on the project? What’s everyone’s role? Who should you contact if you have questions?
- The audience: people who are present today, who are generally involved because of 1) the need for them in the project; or 2) they are our future clients.
After all this, give them what they want to know. What is their role? What are your expectations regarding their contribution? Are they volunteers or is it mandatory? How can they help or contribute? How will you interact and work together?
The Potential Causes for a Project’s Failure
Every project can become a success, but every project can also fail for multiple reasons, which may be predictable or not. The kick-off meeting is a round table
around which you’ll notably discuss the worst case scenarios: Why could this initiative fail? What could be the cause of such a potential failure? The kick-off meeting will allow collaborators to see the project as a whole, and therefore to express their own fears and doubts.
The Purpose of Your Kick-Off Meeting
Your kick-off meeting will be followed by multiple meetings. Controls with all participants may be scheduled on a regular basis, while there may be smaller-size meetings in regard to specific tasks to achieve. Those many future meetings are the reason you organise a kick-off meeting.
After your kick-off, don’t forget to:
- Lay down the statement of account. Where are you into it? What are the next steps? Do you need some work groups to be created? Must your audience be enrolled in a future workshop?
- Send a report to all participants, with communication supports to detail the project’s next steps.
To go further and make your ‘kick-off meeting a success, discover the Wemanity Kick-Off Canvas!
How to make your kick-off meeting a success?
The secret for success lies in preparation. Prepare your meeting with ease thanks to the Kick-Off Canvas. This tool will help you define the goals, challenges and roles of every player in the project. Requiring less than 20 minutes, this preparation will give you the keys to the success of your kick-off meeting.
What are the main ingredients for your kick-off meeting to be a success?
1. A conscientious invitation
2. The choice of an accessible and adapted format
3. A clear vision of the project you want to achieve
4. Transparency of your expectations
5. The sharing of participants’ roles and responsibilities
6. A constant communication, even after the kick-off meeting. Communicate again and again!