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How to plan the perfect kickoff meeting (using any virtual meeting platform) in 2022

Kickoff meetings are essential for the success of a project. Not only do they ensure that stakeholders are aligned and united towards common goals, but they set the tone for the remainder of your project. These days, most kickoff meetings are held using virtual meeting technology because it’s efficient and allows stakeholders from all over the world to join in with ease. But how can you ensure that your kickoff meeting is a success? 

Our experts share their tips on how to plan the perfect kickoff meeting, using almost any virtual meeting platform.

What is a kickoff meeting?

A kickoff meeting is the first meeting held with a project team (and client or sponsor if necessary) to outline the mission statement, roles, timelines, tools and expectations of an upcoming project. A kickoff meeting isn’t just a broadcast of information. It’s an opportunity to work together to set a roadmap before work on the project officially begins. While kickoff meetings are often associated with project management, they’re also used by sales teams to set sales goals and boost team morale. A kickoff meeting can be held in-person or online using virtual meeting technology.

Why is a kickoff meeting essential for project management?

In project management, a kickoff meeting is essential because it gives you the opportunity to come together as a team, set expectations for an upcoming project and streamline your processes. At a kickoff meeting, you should discuss:

  • How the team will work together
  • Common project goals
  • How you will check in with each other
  • What virtual meeting technology you will use
  • Timeline expectations
  • How to overcome roadblocks
  • If you require an externally moderated Q&A session for large group discussions

If you don’t hold a kickoff meeting at the beginning of your project, it’s difficult for your team to unite and feel aligned with the overall project goals. Skip this step, and you’ll find that your project and team members struggle to stay on track.

Planning your project kickoff meeting

For a kickoff meeting to be successful, you have to be highly prepared. Remember, this isn’t your team’s introduction to the project. They should already have basic background knowledge of the project and their role in it.

Have you done the pre-work?

Before inviting your team to your kickoff meeting, make sure you have your agenda prepared, with a list of questions the team is likely to ask. Supply your attendees with a copy of the agenda before your kickoff meeting. Ideally, you should also include a ‘project document’ outlining key points or goals. 

As the host of the kickoff meeting, you should already have an idea on the timelines, expectations and deliverables you think are appropriate for your project. It’s your job to take the lead and present your ideas to the team for discussion. If you’re using a video conferencing platform for your kickoff meeting, make sure that all stakeholders have access to the platform, and the correct instructions for joining the meeting. 

Brainstorm your 5Ws

Before creating your kickoff meeting agenda, brainstorm the 5Ws of your project. Your agenda needs to address the who, what, why, where, when and how of the project. This will help create the template for your agenda.

Create a kickoff meeting agenda

Your kickoff meeting agenda should be streamlined and efficient. While discussion and debate is acceptable, having a set agenda will help keep conversation structured and focussed so that you don’t miss any important points. Your kickoff meeting agenda should be derived from the 5W’s identified above, and include:

1. Introductions

Even if your team already knows each other, introductions are important for breaking the ice, and outlining each person's role in the project.

2. Project background

Provide a short summary of the project’s background, and any prior, related projects.

3. Project deliverables

Discuss the important project deliverables, including your expected deadline. Be detailed. Talk through the work required for each deliverable and who will be responsible for each task. Make notes on when each deliverable will be completed so that you can add them to your project timeline.

4. Project timeline

Create an overview of your project timeline, including what is expected to be delivered and the date of delivery.

5. Agree on communication tools and methods

Communication is the key to any successful project. Use your kickoff meeting to agree on the communication and project management tools that you will use throughout the project, as well as the cadence of that communication. Choose a virtual meeting provider that enables you to quickly share screens with your participants, work on documents together in real-time and see each other by using your computer's webcam. Aim for weekly catch-ups, where possible.

6. Set up a status reporting system

Set up a project management system like Jira or Asana, ready for your team to access and start using the tool straight away. Use your kickoff meeting to set expectations for your status reporting and provide team members with ample time to familiarise themselves with the software before the project officially begins.

7. Discuss risk management

Use your kickoff meeting to identify any potential risks or issues that could arise during your project. Discuss strategies to mitigate and address those risks if they do arise. Being prepared is the best defence you have against unforeseen problems. If you’re dealing with budgets and timelines, discuss as a team how much wriggle room you have to accomodate for potential issues.

Set up your virtual meeting platform

Now that you’ve finished planning the perfect kickoff meeting, it’s time to notify your team and set up your virtual meeting platform!

Perhaps go the extra mile to help ensure the success of your kickoff meeting, by using our managed video conferencing solution. This popular service provides you with a dedicated virtual event manager who will help organise and oversee your kickoff meeting, moderate your Q&A and run voting/polling so you can focus on moving seamlessly through your agenda without the worry of technical issues.

Ready to start planning your own perfect kickoff meeting? Get in touch with the team at Express Virtual Meetings today.

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