A successful kickoff meeting helps a project get off the ground.
A good kickoff meeting sets the stage for what's to come, letting everyone know what will happen in the coming weeks and months, who's responsible for what, and how success will be measured.
Like any other business meeting, a kickoff meeting, especially a virtual one, requires preparation and a well-thought-out agenda. The challenge with a remote get-together is the lack of information about how other people are feeling. Luckily, a variety of tools can be used to help manage the virtual environment before and during the meeting.
To facilitate communication and timely information for all participants in the kickoff meeting, it would be very useful to prepare a kickoff meeting agenda that will guide you through the meeting so that you do not miss any detail that is relevant to any of the participants. This meeting should include a discussion of the project and its timeline, key expectations and deliverables, as well as any other relevant project-related information.
Make sure you've done your homework and invited the right people
If you're trying to hold a remote kickoff meeting, remember that it can be hard to find rapport and establish a comfortable meeting flow. For example, if there's a sound delay or other communication issues, the conversation can get awkward as people try to figure out whose turn it is to speak.
To ensure everything goes smoothly and to cut down on interruptions, it is helpful to limit the number of people participating in a meeting. Inviting fewer people to the meeting can reduce feelings of anxiety or nervousness. You will get more engagement and a more attentive audience if there are fewer but more relevant people on a call. If there are a lot of participants, you’ll feel less pressure to engage in conversation.
Ensure that everyone is aware of the agenda's contents
To maximize your time at a remote meeting, send an agenda to the participants in advance. The agenda will help you accomplish your goals as a host. A kickoff meeting should ensure that everyone is on the same page about the project’s goals and expectations, and that’s why sending the agenda prior to the meeting can help them remain that way.
Make sure you introduce the participants properly
Project managers don’t like to waste hours chatting about their personal lives. But at the kickoff meeting, you shouldn't let an opportunity pass you by to build a connection with your colleagues. That's especially true when there are distance issues, and you can't meet up in real life.
When you get together for a meeting, it might be helpful to ask everyone to say their name, what department they're from, and what role they'll play in the project. If you want to spice things up, you can even try some icebreaker exercises.
Be clear about the project’s goals and expectations
Too often, we attend meetings where we don’t know what we’re getting out of it or what the purpose is. We also want to make sure that remote attendees are able to follow along and make the most of the meeting. This is why you need to be clear about the project’s expectations and goals.
Ideally, you’ll start with a brief explanation of what you want to accomplish with the project and then assign tasks to the participants. Not only will keeping it simple and concise save you all precious time, but it will also improve engagement. Finally, you should set aside time for any questions or suggestions.
Finish the meeting in a pleasant way
During your project’s kickoff meeting, people were able to communicate more effectively and got to know each other better. From here, it’s your job to keep that momentum going. People will remember how you made them feel during this meeting and this can have an impact on their productivity.
At the end of the meeting, you have an opportunity to show your audience how much you appreciate their time and input. Remind them of the project's goals and let them know they'll be able to reach you with questions throughout the project.
Prepare for your next kickoff meeting by doing some research beforehand. You’re in charge, so remember to anticipate your employees' needs and concerns. If you want them to be successful, you'll need to take the time to prepare.
Make a list of everything that needs to be discussed at the meeting and create an agenda. Invite only the people who are directly involved with the project. And do not forget that keeping it simple and clear is the best way to encourage engagement.