1514286506 lead project kickoff meeting

How to successfully lead a Project Kickoff Meeting?

Every project manager’s responsibilities start right from the time when they are assigned to lead the projects. It is just after the completion of sign offs and approvals on the project from stakeholders. Now it’s the responsibility of Project Manager to return desired dividends to project stakeholders as a result of Project success. 

Hence, Project manager needs to do lot of preparations to carry out Project successfully. But reality is - most of the project failures are reported to be caused by impromptu project kickoff meeting lead by Project Manager without prior preparation and planning.

Importance of Project Kick Off Meeting for a new Project: 

Is it really important to give Kick off meeting so much attention? – The obvious answer is “YES “.  Project kick off meeting is as important as the meeting conducted by Coach with his/ her team before the start of Football match. The difference is – In football match meeting; players know that they have to score maximum goals to win the game. Although in Project kickoff meeting, Project Leader is supposed to make the team realize that they have to meet goals and objectives of project to get success. Each of these team members has different perception about project and different expectation from Kickoff meeting. You, as a project leader have the responsibility to make them comfortable. Also, energize them by setting a chorus, so that they can understand what is expected out of them during the Project.

Let’s understand and define project kickoff meeting:

Before going forward to define project kickoff meeting, let me ask you - What is a kick off? Can you define kick off? 

No worries!! First of all, let’s see how to define kickoff. 

Cambridge Dictionary mentions, “If a game of football kicks off, it starts” – That means Kick off is “to begin”.

Hence Project Kick off meeting is a kind of project inception meeting or a take off meeting with the Project team members and stakeholders including clients. Purpose of Project kickoff meeting is to formally make everyone aware that it’s a beginning of a project. The roles and responsibilities of individuals are discussed. Expectations from them are set & conveyed. This is to bring all team members to the common platform of understanding.

In this article, I’ll list some of the important Project Kick off meeting tips to lead good kick off meetings.

Project Kick off meeting Tips:

1. Prepare and rehearse for Kick off meeting well in advance – 

a. Before the schedule of Kick off meeting, discuss with all key stakeholders including customers (if customers can influence the project results and/or get affected by the Project outcomes) regarding the Project deliverables and understand their expectations. It is always advisable to do stakeholder analysis also.  This is to get better understanding of different stakeholder’s influence and expectations. These stakeholder’s expectations should be an important input for you, while conducting kick off.

b. Prepare the project kickoff meeting agenda and identify all team members: Meeting Agenda should include Project brief Description or Heading; Kick off Meeting Date, time and Venue details; Invitees and Attendees names and details; And should list down all Agenda Items/ Topics with time slots such as Introduction, Project Background, Goals and Objectives, Scope, Roles and Responsibilities of each team member etc. Don’t forget to allot some time in the end of the meeting for queries. You can also mention details about other enclosures or handouts necessary for Kick off commencement. You can refer below template for the preparation of Kick Off Agenda:

Project kickoff meeting agenda template
Figure: project kickoff agenda sample Template

c. Research on Previous similar Projects: Nowadays, Most of the organizations keep Previous Project history about their successes, failures including challenges faced and risk/ opportunities encountered during projects in their Knowledge management Database for future references – Also Known as Organizational Knowledge Assets. Project leader is advised to refer those for better preparation of Project kick off and if needed, he can touch upon some of these points during Kick off to ensure commitment and buy –in from all team members towards Project.

d. Also, ask all stakeholders to attend the Kick off meeting, because their presence will positively induce the commitment of all team members.
Mail Kick off Meeting Agenda to all respective invitees and attendees, well before meeting, with short note about “what is expected from them in this Project”. You can refer below sample for project kickoff meeting invitation email:

Sample kick off meeting email:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: …/…/…

Subject: Project kickoff meeting invitation email
Dear Recipient,

You are cordially invited at attend the Kick off meeting on the Project: “………….” I’m really very excited to have you in my team and looking forward to discuss more about the project with you during meeting. Meeting agenda is enclosed with this mail for your kind reference and perusal. Kindly go through the same before coming for the meeting to have better understanding of meeting flow and timings. This meeting will give us an opportunity to get to know each other and to exchange and share our first views.

Kick off meeting Date:
Time:
Venue:

Kindly block your calendar and confirm your presence in meeting.

Best Regards,

Xyz,
(contact details)

Enclosures: 
Agenda Draft
Conference call details
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. During Kick Off Meeting, ensure the following:

a. Check with admin or concerned department for accommodation and necessary IT support at Meeting Venue. If stakeholders or members are connected through virtual media or conferencing, get it arranged and checked by concerned support team well before meeting. 

b. Start the meeting with warm welcome to everyone present. Give your introduction and ask everyone to introduce him or herself. If time allows start meeting with some chit-chat – This will help you know everyone and everyone get acquainted with each other, Hence all of you would be socially and personally connected during meeting and project. 

c. Cover the activities listed in your Agenda document: Just after Introductory session, immediately take the charge of rest of the Kick off flow.  Use “elevator speech” – i.e. deliver a clear speech with enthusiasm to address clearly whom you would like to win over. Take everyone through your agenda items one by one. For delivery of Kick Off meeting you can prepare some PowerPoint slides, which won’t let you get diverted from your meeting agenda. You can also refer to project kickoff meeting presentation template, which are available on free portals. You can download these project kickoff meeting presentation template and customize the contents as per your Agenda. Note that Agenda is a snapshot of your Project at a first cut. So while delivering Kick off, keep yourself high – Don’t go into details. The main objectives of this Kick off are to:

i)Give brief outlines about Project to Team

ii)Make the team realize that you are commanding this Project

iii)Introduce team with stakeholders and with each other

iv)Set the expectations from team members

v)Promote and support communication channel

vi)& The most important to Build your credibility among Team Members

Take Note: Mood Barometer is an effective tool, you can utilize to measure the confidence of the team regarding their commitment towards the goal achievement at different time intervals of project duration starting from Kick off. This will help you to as an early warning system, if any individual team member is unsatisfied with the project progress:

content
kickoff project
Figure: Mood Barometer chart

d. While discussing about Roles, Responsibilities and Project timelines, it is always good to have the consensus with respective team members before freezing the deadlines. This will further ensure full commitment of each team member towards the expectation from him or her, while on the job.

e. During the end of the meeting, give space to questions and answers. The purpose is to bring best possible clarity to all team members and to eliminate any state of confusion among them. Emphasize that your support will always be with them at your best during Project.

f. In the end, greet everyone with smile for taking out their time to be present in this Kick Off meeting and showing their interest and commitment for the Project. It will create an atmosphere of Professionalism and Keep your team productive during whole Project. 

Takeaway: Kick off sets the initial tone for Project start. Ensure that you keep yourself energized. Your tone during kick off should reflect a sense of commitment towards Project. You cannot succeed until you prove “Walk the Talk”.

3. Just after the Kick off meeting, don’t forget to send across Minutes of Meeting to each invitee and attendee including all stakeholders. This will strengthen your commitment towards Project and help you to keep the track of project activities in future.  If you feel any resistance or weak commitment from any of team members during Project kick off, make sure to meet him or her personally just after the meeting. Try to explore his or her concerns by discussing with him or her in length. Your job is to earn hundred percent commitment from your team, hence never ignore their opinion or concern. Resolve the matter as soon as you notice.

Always remember, 

Being a Project Leader, you should possess skills to provide leadership. You should resolve any conflict risking the project execution. At the end, deliver project successfully.

Project Kick off meeting periodic status

After Project Kick off meeting periodic status meetings should be organized with team members. This helps to track the project progress as scheduled in Kick Off.

Final Thoughts summarized:

Project kickoff meeting purpose is to -

  • Keep yourself High and demonstrate leadership. Clarify that you are at the top of the project and will hand hold each team member during the project execution.

  • Demonstrate you are fully committed to the project success

  • Express the importance of project deliverables and expectations from each member.

  • Clearly assign the roles and responsibilities of team members without any ambiguity in their minds about the same and essentially, empower them.

  • Create an atmosphere of teamwork and support among all team individuals. 

In addition, for better preparation of your project kick off, you can use below project checklist template for kickoff. This will help you cover all essentials of Project inception meeting:

Project Name/Number

 

Project Owner

 

Meeting Location

 

Call-in Number

 

Project Manager

 

Meeting Date & Time

 

 

Pre-Meeting Checklist

Status

1.   Review and dissect the project charter or the project contract

 

2.   Begin project planning

 

3.   Review prior lessons learned

 

4.   Meet with or survey the project stakeholders

 

5.   Secure the human resources or obtain resource commitments

 

6.   Review the project benefits and develop a strategy to motivate the project team

 

7.   Prepare the kickoff meeting agenda

 

8.   Solicit the preferred time and date for the kickoff meeting

 

9.   Prepare and distribute meeting invitations and other project documents

 

10. Send reminders the day before the kickoff meeting

 

11. Create a sign-in sheet that has a place to record contact information

 
   

Notes:

 

During the Meeting Checklist

Status

1.   Arrive at the meeting space early and ensure you have what you need

 

2.   Set out the sign-in sheet

 

3.   Start the meeting on time and keep it moving

 

4.   Capture action items

 

5.   Refer to the agenda and follow it

 

6.   Start the Question & Answer session

 

7.   Announce the next meetings

 

8.   End on time

 

Notes:

 

Post-Meeting Checklist

Status

1.   Prepare the minutes from the meeting

 

2.   Distribute the meeting minutes and action items

 

3.   Follow through on the action items

 

4.   Schedule upcoming meeting spaces

 

5.   Update and distribute the revised project management plan

 

Notes:

Template Source: www.mypmllc.com/project-management-resources/free-project-management-templates

I hope, this article will help you with an important concept on leading Project Kick off successfully. This will also add one of the most important tools in your Project Management arsenal.  

Enroll now, for our instructor-led PMP training program 

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