The significance of an impactful kick-off meeting cannot be emphasized enough. It sets the tone for the entire project, and gets everyone prepared, excited and ready to hit the ground running! Kick-off meetings (and most project meetings!) serve the purpose of building trust and alignment. So, here are a few tips to help you ensure that your project starts off right!
- Run the right exercises
A kick-off meeting is usually the time when you show your client how much research you’ve done about their business, their competitors, and their industry. While this can be somewhat impressive, you’ll end up telling them things they already knew. Instead, let them know you’ve done your due diligence and use the kick-off as more of a collaborative workshop where you guide the discussions into revealing things that client hadn’t known how to articulate before, reveal problems that might have been under the surface, and make sure the best of everyone’s knowledge bases are coming together into the right project goal.
- Set expectations
The kick-off meeting is the perfect time to set project expectations pertaining to how the team will communicate, which tools will be used, feasibility of project milestones and deadlines, cadence of team meetings, and so on. Setting the right expectations during the kick-off will minimize misunderstandings and set the tone for the project engagement.
- Switch up locations and plan breaks
If your kick-off is a multi-day workshop-like event, then including breaks into the schedule will encourage non-work conversations that can build client camaraderie. In addition, changing the location of the meeting on the second and third days will help freshen up ideas and perspectives and make the interactions feel less drawn out.
- Draw out any tension in the room
If you don’t use the kick-off meeting to dispel any tension(s) in the room, changes are they snowball during the course of the project and most likely result in team members not working effectively together, pent up resentment, or misunderstandings. All of which can easily derail a project, especially if they come to a head at critical juncture of the project’s delivery.
- Build camaraderie
More often than not, it’s better to start collaborative discussions with your client rather than just sharing your ideas with them. The health of your relationship with your client depends will be built on trust (do what you say you’ll do), relatability (share knowledge and experiences), and honesty (it’s okay to admit when you don’t know something). So, use the kick-off meeting to start building these relationship qualities that will strengthen during the course of the project.
Remember to treat your kick-off meeting with care because things are either going to go uphill or downhill from there! Once you’ve run a successful project kick-off, remember to create an effective project roadmap, and you would have set yourself up for success!