Your organization is ready to embark on a new enterprise-wide project. Budget has been set, resources allocated, and team members assigned varying tasks. What could go wrong?
In a word, everything.
Getting a project off the ground takes more than just logistical planning. It requires the entire team to share a vision and passion to reach agreed upon goals.
By far the best way to empower your team and position them for success is to hold a company-wide kickoff meeting. This event will help create clarity, excitement and focus, ensuring goals can easily be met.
In this blog post we’ll take a look at how kickoff meetings can improve outcomes and how to successfully plan one. Let’s get started!
What is a Kickoff Meeting?
A company-wide kickoff meeting is an event whose goal is to bring stakeholders together to define and plan a project in order to get it off the ground. During the kickoff event, goals and purpose are established, the team is organized, and actions are put into place to ensure the project’s success.
A really good kickoff event gets the entire team excited and clear about their individual tasks. While not everything will necessarily be 100% decided on by the end of your meeting, your team should be motivated and totally prepared to take the initial steps to get the proverbial ball rolling.
Here are some typical agenda items for a kickoff meeting:
- Aligning goals
- Agreeing on tasks and responsibilities
- Identifying challenges
- Settling internal disputes
- Clarifying channels of collaboration
- Setting tone and expectations
- Creating team bonds
- Removing obstacles and assumptions
- Building massive excitement
Tips for Having a Successful Kickoff Meeting
Kickoff meetings can make the difference between a productive project and one that sputters and dies. The following are some ways you can set up your kickoff meeting for success:
Prepare All Stakeholders Before the Meeting
In order for your kickoff event to hit the ground running, be sure to prepare everyone beforehand. This means making sure all stakeholders understand their role and getting buy-in from the team.
Invite Only Those Who Need to be There
While these events are generally called “company-wide” kickoff meetings, that doesn’t mean that everyone within your organization needs to attend. It is, of course, important to keep the larger organization “in the loop.” But generally speaking, only invite those people who will be directly involved in the project. This way no one’s time is wasted and the meeting can be productive.
Schedule the Meeting in Advance
Pick a date well in advance and invite everyone as soon as possible. Try to pick a time that works for most of your stakeholders. In your invite, share the date and time of the meeting, as well as the agenda, and be sure to ask all team members to confirm their attendance.
Assign a Facilitator …
Your meeting will be far more effective when there is a point person whose job is to keep things on track. Your facilitator will also help team members to focus on the content at hand, instead of getting distracted by side conversations and unnecessary information.
Traditionally, the person assigned the role of facilitator is the person in charge of the project. This can work, however, it is often more effective to have someone neutral take on this role. This could be someone from another department or even hiring an outside facilitator.
… And a Note-Taker
Someone will need to lead the meeting, and someone will need to ensure notes are taken. In many instances, it’s possible to have the facilitator take notes. But we have found that for kickoff meetings, it’s good to have a separate person assigned to each role. This really allows the facilitator to focus on keeping the agenda moving forward and everyone focused.
Successful kickoff meetings are the ones where all team members are encouraged to participate. Make your team feel empowered to speak up and contribute. That’s why they have been invited.
Set rules at the top of your meeting about a team code of conduct. It’s also a great idea to conduct a brainstorming session right off the bat to get everyone comfortable and primed for discovery.
Set Clear Next Steps
What tends to happen is your kickoff meeting gets everyone excited and ready for action. But then those initial steps after the event can feel a bit tentative and slow. This is why it is so critical that you end your kickoff meeting by setting CLEAR follow-up actions with deadlines so you can continue the positive and forward momentum.
Kickoff meetings can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the success of your project. But in order for the event itself to be a success, be sure to:
- Prepare all stakeholders before the meeting
- Invite only those who need to be there
- Schedule the meeting in advance
- Assign a facilitator and notetaker
- Foster collaboration
- And set clear next steps.
To ensure your kickoff meeting will lead to a successful project, consider working with an event planner with expertise in planning and hosting kickoff events. JShay Events has been helping our clients design and host company-wide kickoff events for years and we’d love to help you. Please feel free to reach out to us!
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