6 Steps for Leading a Successful Project Kick-Off Meeting

…everyone knows what to expect when, how and from whom.

6 Steps for Leading a Successful Project Kick-Off MeetingMy current role in the corporate world requires me to run many different projects with different teams from time to time. Each time when I am tasked with a new project, I will arrange a kick-off meeting with everyone as a way to formalise a project. Having done many kick-off meetings now, I have learnt that there is a formula to follow so the kick-off meeting serves the right purpose and be a successful one. Here are the 6 simple steps that anyone can apply when planning a kick-off meeting.

1. PREPARE MATERIALS

Do not go into a kick-off meeting empty-handed. Prepare some visual materials to use as a guideline during the meeting. This is important as you want to keep the meeting on the right track. Not only that, you also want to go into the meeting by giving people the right impression – that you are prepared. Be it just a couple of slides or flip chart papers, this makes a difference.

2. BE AWARE OF YOUR SETTING

Know your audience as different set of people have different expectations. When you understand who your audience are, it makes your planning easier. You can also customise your approach accordingly so it meets your overall meeting objectives.

3. BE FIRM BUT ENTHUSIASTIC

When presenting yourself as the Project Manager, be firm so you can inspire confidence of others in you as a leader. However, you do not want to come across as cocky. Be enthusiastic and get everyone motivated. Be inclusive and empower everyone in the project team with a Q&A session where they can ask questions.

4. FOLLOW THE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING AGENDA

Kick-off meetings are just that, a kick-off meeting. It does not have to be long as it is not the forum to go through every specific task in the project. A kick-off meeting is meant for you to set the tone and how everyone is expected to work together on the project.
The main objectives of the meeting are to:
– Provide overview of the project
– Introduce everyone including the stakeholders of the project team
– Set clear expectations of how everyone will work in or contribute to the project
– Promote communication by including a high level Q&A session towards the end of the meeting

5. GIVE CLEAR DIRECTIONS OF NEXT STEPS

Close the meeting by agreeing what the next steps are. This keeps the project momentum going and everyone knows what to expect when, how and from whom.

6. THANK EVERYONE

This goes without saying. Show everyone that you appreciate their time and input. This makes everyone feel valued and a simple thank you often goes a long way. Be sincere though, or people can see through hypocrisy easily!