project kickoff meeting

Project Kickoff Meeting: How to Do It Properly

Initiating any project without a proper project kickoff meeting is like going on a trip without a solid plan. You’ll see some cool destinations along the way but eventually, you will end up with weary travelers and a sparse photo album. 

Therefore, a project kickoff meeting basically paves the way for successful and smooth project collaboration. Putting it simply, a project kickoff meeting is the very first meeting between project team members, clients, or project stakeholders. Know that a project kickoff meeting is the best time to set expectations and develop strong team morale. Usually, a project kickoff meeting is held after the statement of work or the finalization of the project poster when all involved parties are ready to go. 

To help you grasp a better understanding of the project kickoff meeting concept let’s start with some basics. 

Project Kickoff: Overview

As mentioned earlier, a project kickoff meeting is when project managers interact with project sponsors for the very first time. It is also known as an external project kickoff meeting and is a critical part of the project initiation phase. Before having an external kickoff meeting with the client, project managers have an internal kickoff meeting with the team members to plan things out. 

Well-run and productive kickoff meetings are informative, set the right tone from the start, establish project objectives, and help you avoid scope creep.

Tip: In the project initiation meetings, you should align key project details and get buy-in on complex milestones.

The Purpose of the Project Kickoff Meeting

The key purpose of having a project kickoff meeting is to have everyone on the same page and off to a good start. It is a good time to have team introductions and develop their understanding of the project so they can get started right away. 

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail, they say

Showing off to a meeting without being properly prepared for it is nothing short of a nightmare. What message you are conveying across the team or clients. Therefore, avoid losing face in front of your clients or subordinates by preparing well for the meetings.  

Planning the Project Kickoff Meeting

Usually, one common mistake many project managers make is that they broadcast meeting information prior to the meeting. Don’t do it because it will cause unnecessary confusion. However, there some specific constraints due to which you are required to share information in advance, then do so with a shared document over StickyTasks. Your project kickoff meeting involves your team, stakeholders or anyone who is affected by the project. 

Come up with a proper meeting agenda to keep things streamlined and efficient. You can also prepare a list of questions you can ask both your team and stakeholders. 

Let’s move to the do’s and don’ts of project kickoff meeting agenda.

The Kickoff Meeting Agenda 

A project kickoff meeting agenda guides the meeting and attendees and keeps everyone on topic. Here are some basic do’s and don’ts of setting meeting agenda.

Do’s:

  • To warm up the environment make sure to have introductions
  • To keep the meeting agenda on track, allocate specific time to each aspect that you are going to discuss. 
  • Organize discussion items properly to maintain a discussion flow.
  • Keep your discussions to the point instead of bogging down into details. 

Don’ts:

  • Don’t dominate the agenda of your meeting
  • Don’t forget to run the meeting scope through your team for their input
  • When sharing meeting scope with the team or client don’t share it without proofreading.
  • Don’t try to cover multiple things in just one meeting. 

Remember at this point of the project development lifecycle you don’t need to get into details. The project kickoff meeting should be thorough but also as short and as simple as possible. Managers can also address additional items during the project with others as needed or at a follow-up meeting.

Who Should Attend the Kickoff Meeting?

A project kick-off meeting can be of two types depending on its attendants,

  • Internal kickoff meeting 
  • External kickoff meeting

As the name indicates internal project kickoff meeting refers to taking internals (employees, SMEs, and team members) onboard. An internal project kickoff meeting provides a good opportunity for the team and managers to know each other. Whereas, an external project kickoff meeting is for clients and stakeholders. 

Here, you introduce your key team members to the client, listen to their expectations, and inform them about the reporting procedure. 

Project Kickoff Meeting Email

Once you are done with setting the agenda for your kickoff meeting, you’ll need to roll out a formal email regarding when and where the meeting will be. 

Here is a quick overview of what you can include in your kickoff meeting announcement: 

Subject line: Project Kickoff: Project Name

Dear team,

Over the past weeks, we have worked hard on setting up the Project Name. A long-awaited project that will add value to our company!

With the project completely planned out from A-Z, we are now ready to officially start the project. We therefore would like to invite you to the project kickoff meeting where you will be given a full overview of the project.

The kickoff is a very important meeting because it will give you clarity on your role in the project, your responsibilities, and the timing of tasks. Therefore I kindly ask you to participate. 

You can join the kickoff meeting via Zoom. Here are the details: ADD ZOOM or TEAMS LINK

I look forward to meeting you all! Let’s make this project a success!

Thank you and best wishes,

Name

Senior Project Manager

Structuring the Meeting

Structuring out your meeting solely depends on your project objective and niche but it should include the 5 W’s, or who, what, where, when, why, and how: 

  • Introductions
  • What is the project background? 
  • Why are you doing it?
  • What is the project scope?
  • What is the plan of action?
  • Who is doing what?
  • How are you going to collaborate throughout the project?
  • What are the OKRs?  

What Comes After the Project Kickoff Meeting?

The next step after having a project kickoff meeting is to follow up with the meeting attendees. The key purpose of having a follow-up is that all your team members’ and clients’ concerns are heard and addressed. It also allows you to share any additional information or further details the team needs to succeed.

Project managers can send a group email as a follow-up to the kickoff meeting that may include items such as your handouts, presentation, contact information, and meeting minutes. Secondly, it is always good to repeat that you will be available to answer any further questions or concerns. Schedule a client follow-up meeting with your team to review progress made since the initial kickoff meeting.

A Good Project Kickoff Meeting Determines Success

Summing it up, setting the right tone from the start can make or break a project.

As mentioned earlier, a successful project kickoff meeting ensures that stakeholders are on the same page and have a common understanding of the project objectives to help them work more effectively as a team.

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