Before starting the work on a project, project managers have to communicate their plans and visions about the project to their team and their clients.
Project kickoffs are essential meetings that help put everyone on the same page from the get go.
In this text, you will find out:
- What is a project kickoff meeting,
- Why is it important,
- How to guide a successful kickoff meeting, and
- What to do afterwards.
Table of Contents
What is a project kickoff meeting?
A project kickoff meeting is the first meeting held between the stakeholders or those who take part in the project — the manager, the team, and the client.
The one responsible for organizing the kickoff meeting is the project manager. Usually, they first conduct an internal meeting with only the project team, followed by an external meeting with both the clients and the team.
In this meeting, the project manager discusses the project plan, timeline, and background. Moreover, the team introduces themselves, goes through the stages of the project, and discusses the most effective way to execute the project.
The function of the kickoff meeting is to present project objectives and make sure that the clients and the team know what they need to do for the project.
Why should you have a project kickoff meeting?
A project kickoff meeting is supposed to get the team and the clients acquainted with all the phases of the project. It is a perfect opportunity to set the expectations for the project, too.
Additionally, kickoff meetings are a great way for all the stakeholders to meet each other and become familiar with all the roles and responsibilities that they have. This creates an atmosphere of trust and prevents potential issues and conflicts that can arise in the team if the kickoff meeting is not held.
Moreover, the kickoff meeting reduces the chances of miscommunication existing during the execution of the project.
How to run an effective project kickoff meeting
Every kickoff meeting is different, and its structure depends on the type of the project. Some projects have a more formal and strict structure, whereas others are more flexible.
Whatever the case, there are some steps that need to be completed for the kickoff meeting to be successful.
Step #1: Prepare for the meeting
Before organizing the actual kickoff meeting, make sure to prepare for it by organizing a pre-kickoff meeting and sending out a meeting agenda. By doing this, everyone included in the project will know what to expect from the meeting and how to properly prepare for it.
Organize a pre-kickoff meeting
Before the actual kickoff meeting takes place, make sure to have a meeting with the team only. This internal meeting should introduce the team to the client, their background, desires, and expectations.
The internal kickoff meeting prepares the team for the external kickoff meeting.
Send out an agenda
Before the kickoff meeting starts, make sure to create a clear agenda of everything that will be discussed and send it out to all participants. This will allow them to think about the project in advance and prepare questions to ask during the meeting.
The agenda will save you time during the meeting, too. Since all the participants have already read the agenda and are familiar with what will be discussed during the meeting, you won’t have to waste time on long introductions.
Here is a kickoff meeting template that will help you in organizing a successful project kickoff meeting agenda.
Prepare documentation and check equipment
Right before the meeting starts, make sure that you have made the copies of all relevant documents that you will hand out to the attendees so that they can use them during the meeting.
If you organize your kickoff meeting online, make sure to give everyone access to all the relevant documents or even share your screen so that everyone can follow as you go through the document.
Also, make sure to check the equipment that you’ll use such as the projector, computer, and other before the meeting. By doing this, you avoid spending time on fixing the equipment during the meeting.
Step #2: Make introductions
At the beginning of the meeting, make sure that everyone introduces themselves first. Since this is the beginning of the project, some of the participants may not know each other. For instance, some participants may be new to the team working on the project or may not know the client.
You can even have some icebreaker questions prepared. The participants can tell their name, position, mention relevant previous experiences, etc.
This will create a relaxed atmosphere and establish better connections among the participants.
Step #3: Start with the project background and purpose
Dedicate the beginning of your project kickoff meeting to the project’s background and purpose.
Talk about all the ideas that were discussed earlier with the client. This will give more details to the team so that they can solve the issues that arise.
Furthermore, discuss the project’s purpose. Share the reason for doing this project and the client’s perspective of the importance of the project. After mentioning the reason for the project’s execution, explain how it is going to benefit the overall business.
By explaining the background and the purpose to everyone, the stakeholders will get a clearer understanding of the project.
Step #4: Share the project plan
Now is the perfect time to talk about the project plan.
For this part, you can rely on the agenda you created before the meeting because it should contain all the necessary information.
Step #5: Define methods and tools you’ll use
Once everyone is familiar with the project, its background, plan, and purpose, discuss the methods and the tools that will be used for the execution of the project.
Project management methodology
Determine which method you will use for the execution of the project. Some of the possible methods are:
- Waterfall — This is a linear approach where each of the phases cascades into the next one. It is usually used in industries such as construction or software development.
- Agile — This methodology breaks down the process into several phases. The process is organized in cycles, and the collaboration with the stakeholders is present at every stage of the project. The industries that usually use the agile approach are IT, advertising, banking and finance, and engineering, and they usually rely on agile project management software to better organize their projects.
- Hybrid — This methodology allows project management experts to combine the methodologies they like and find suitable for their projects. It is usually used in IT, but its adaptability makes it a good fit for nearly every other industry under the sun.
Project management software
Another very important aspect of the project is choosing the tool that will be used for the execution of the project.
For example, a handy tool you can use for planning your project is Plaky. Plaky is a free project and task management software that will enable you to manage your project with the help of highly customizable boards.
Its adaptability will allow you to organize your workflow in a way that suits you and your team with very little effort.
Plaky enables you to communicate with your clients, too. You can share progress and other information with them by using the comment section available on each individual task card and providing them with guest access.
Aligning all these things at the beginning of the project makes project execution easier and much more organized. Consequently, the danger of misunderstandings due to miscommunication is reduced to a minimum.
Step #6: Share roles and responsibilities
After defining the method and the tools that will be used for the execution of the project, the project manager should determine the roles and responsibilities for each member of the project team.
It is vital that everyone is on the same page about their roles and responsibilities to be able to execute them well.
Assigning the roles and responsibilities during the kickoff meeting and discussing them will save you precious time later on during the project. You will be able to focus on the important things instead of answering questions that could have been discussed in the earlier phases.
Step #7: Make time for questions
Towards the end of the meeting, make sure to give the participants a chance to ask questions.
Even though you may have been very detailed during your meeting, some ambiguities might remain. It is crucial that everyone working on the project has a clear idea of their roles and duties.
Step #8: Define the next steps
Conclude the meeting with what will come next. Talk about the steps you will take next in your work on the project.
Another useful thing you can do is share relevant contact information, useful documents, and resources.
It is important that all stakeholders leave the meeting with a clear idea of what they need to do.
Here is a checklist with all of the steps that will help you keep track of which ones you’ve accomplished:
What should you do after the project kickoff meeting?
Once you have finished all the steps, you’ve completed the project kickoff meeting successfully.
Afterwards, make sure to send a thank you email to all the stakeholders.
You can also send a short summary of the topics discussed during the meeting and ask if anyone has any questions once again.
Keep in mind that not everyone feels comfortable asking questions in front of a big group of people. So, this is a good opportunity for them to clarify anything that may have remained unclear.
Once you’ve established all the vital information around the project during the kickoff, you’ll be ready to start the work on your project.
Conclusion: A successful kickoff meeting leads to a successful project
A kickoff meeting is the first step towards a successful project outcome. It will help you put everyone on the same page and execute the project with no trouble.
An effective kickoff meeting will make every attendee leave the meeting knowing what their responsibilities are but also understanding the wider project goals.
✉️ Do you have any additional questions about the project kickoff meeting? Are there any dilemmas regarding the guide for conducting a successful meeting? If so, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include some of your ideas in this or future blog posts. Also, if you liked this post and found it useful, share it with someone who will benefit from it!