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How to Hold a Kick-Off Meeting [+Free Sample Agenda]
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How to Hold a Kick-Off Meeting [+Free Sample Agenda]

With the right planning and approach, kick-off meetings provide an energetic start to exciting projects

February 24, 2021
Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

In football, the initial kick-off transitions team members from preparation and warm-up into game-time action.

When it comes to getting work projects up and running, a kick-off meeting does the same thing. It brings talented team members together to collaborate on goals along a shared roadmap to success. Start off on the wrong foot, and the team—and project—can fall apart. Get it right, and everyone’s prepared to tackle any obstacles ahead.

An excellent kick-off meeting sets your team up to win. In this post, we’ll cover the purpose of a kick-off meeting, how to nail your presentation, and look at special considerations for remote meetings. We’ll also provide you with a free kick-off meeting agenda sample.

Let’s start with why kick-off meetings exist.

Kick-Off Meeting Purpose

What’s the point of a kick-off meeting, anyway? As it turns out, there are quite a few purposes this type of meeting serves.

For starters, a kick-off meeting brings everyone involved in a project together to transition from the ideation phase to execution. Getting your team together is important for several reasons.

First, having all people and teams in the room ensures everyone is either on the same page or can ask questions to get there. That allows you to lay a strong foundation and formalize the collaborative process.

Second, a kick-off meeting creates space for anyone to speak up about potential blind spots or hurdles the team hasn’t considered before getting underway. You want to use this opportunity to reduce surprises down the line and leave everyone feeling well-informed and fully prepared for the road ahead.

Finally, a good kick-off meeting serves to get everyone excited! It should clearly explain why this project is essential. What pain points will it address? How will it improve things? It should also cover how the project will solve those problems and how success will be measured. Project teams can unite over specific issues to tackle with defined goals in their crosshairs.

Perfecting Your Kick-Off Meeting Presentation

There are a few key things you’ll want to be sure to cover in your kick-off meeting presentation. While the specifics may vary based on the type of project you’re kicking off, these likely include:

  • the reason for the project
  • project goals and how success is defined
  • an overview of major phases or milestones
  • specific responsibilities and deliverables from each person or team
  • when follow-up project meetings will happen
  • how you will track the project
  • what communication channels your team will use
  • budget
  • timelines

If this is a purely internal kick-off meeting with no external contributors, you probably don’t have to spend too much time on introductions. However, if this project includes external and internal teams, it would be wise to introduce people and their roles. An icebreaker helps accomplish this early in the meeting.

When it comes to sales kick-off meetings, one major priority is bringing energy to the room. Sales kick-off meetings are meant to motivate the team for a successful year ahead. Feed this goal with helpful information on strategies that have worked well over the last year and team-building activities that boost morale.

No matter what type of project you’re kicking off, make sure to leave plenty of time for questions at the end and clearly articulate what tasks people will tackle once the meeting is over. Check out our post on how to give a presentation for more ideas.

How to Hold a Remote Kick-Off Meeting

In the past, experts insisted that holding kick-off meetings in-person was essential. The belief was that every person involved in a project needed to be in the same room, literally, to nurture group cohesivity and collaboration through shared experience.

As we all know, in-person kick-off meetings for every project are no longer realistic. Fortunately, they’re also not completely necessary. You can still have a successful project with a remote kick-off meeting that ticks all the same boxes—you may just have to get a little creative.

To plan a remote meeting, consider what truly makes this meeting important. Starting new projects is exciting, and stakeholders are usually extremely interested at this stage. The meeting should harness this energy to get everyone’s input and open lines of communication.

Check out our 20+ icebreakers for remote meetings to start things off on the right foot. Then, consider what remote meeting tools your organization already uses that could be helpful. Do you have project tracking software? Can people use the meeting chat in place of sticky notes?

Ever since the mass move to remote work in 2020, remote meeting tools are more versatile than ever before. Review all your options, and you may be surprised to find ways in which remote kick off meetings are even better.

Ready to kick off your meeting planning? One key to leading effective meetings is having a meeting agenda. Use this free agenda sample to get started:

Kick-Off Meeting Agenda Sample

Copy or download this free kick-off meeting agenda template, available as a Google Doc, Word Doc, and for use in Hugo (meeting management app)

Kick-Off Meeting

Introductions/Icebreakers

  • Ensure everyone knows one another
  • Set the tone with a light icebreaker

Background Information

  • Explain what created a need for this project
  • Share historical information that provides important context
  • Provide any other relevant information about clients, previous projects, etc.

Project Goals

  • Review or decide on high-level goals and project scope
  • Define how success will be measured

Major Tasks and Timeline

  • How long should the project take, including major milestones?
  • Identify which people and teams will be responsible for what tasks
  • Ensure everyone understands their roles and deliverables

Logistics

  • Clearly explain how communication about the project will happen
  • Exchange contact information between everyone involved
  • Provide any needed explanations on the project tracking system to be usedAgree on reporting methods

Potential Challenges & Assets

  • What hurdles may we encounter?How can we overcome them?

Q&A

  • Open the floor to questionsNext Steps
  • Who is doing what to get the project started?

Hold Kick-Off Meetings Like a Boss

With the right planning and approach, kick-off meetings provide an energetic start to exciting projects. They create bonds between teams through shared purpose and set everyone up for success with a clear understanding of the road ahead.

Team members can start collaborating with shareable meeting agendas even before the kick-off meeting, well, kicks off! Use our customizable Project Kick Off Meeting Agenda to easily plug in what you need for the many successful kick-off meetings that lie ahead.

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Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

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