6 Steps for a Successful Kick-Off Meeting

Christian Kuhs

The project plan is set, and all that's missing is the official kick-off? Then you have come to the right place! Because a successful kick-off event is fundamental for the success of your project and should be part of best in class project portfolio management.

But what exactly is a kick-off?

A kick-off is an opening meeting for all team members, staff, partners, clients, companies, sponsors and other stakeholders involved in the project. It is typically initiated, prepared and implemented by the project managers, the sponsors in management roles and - ideally - the Project Management Office (PMO), which looks after the entire project portfolio in the company. This first meeting takes about 60 to 90 minutes and lays the foundation for the following collaboration across the entire team. But be careful! Don’t overextend the circle of attendees. This keeps the kick off-circle agile and effective.

The purpose of a kick-off event is to communicate common goals, expectations and the time schedule to mentally prepare the team for the project. This creates motivation among those involved. Once these building blocks for smooth project collaboration are set, the entire project process will benefit.

How do you achieve this positive energy during the kick-off?

Good preparation pays off! That's why we have developed a 6-step guide for a successful kick-off.

  1. Introduction (~5 minutes)
    Start the kick-off event with a short introduction and a look at the agenda so that everyone knows what to expect from the meeting. Ideally, the management or another sponsor introduces the background and goals of the meeting and embeds the project into other company activities and the overall project portfolio, giving it the necessary context. Then the participants' ears are wide open and ready to take in the following information.

  2. Stakeholders (5-10 minutes)
    After the introduction of the operational project leaders and the PMO, the different stakeholders introduce themselves. In doing so, they position themselves in the strategic planning of the measures and indicate which part of the project they are involved in. If external stakeholders and companies are present, they should also briefly introduce themselves and explain their connection to the project.

  3. Project overview (5-10 minutes).
    Next, it is important to present a project overview to the team. What are the objectives? Why is the project relevant to the company and its stakeholders? What are the different project phases, and what is the project timeline? Presenting a clear project structure plan at the beginning creates transparency and motivation.

  4. Task distribution and Governance (10-15 minutes).
    This is the most important step of the kick-off. Here, individual responsibilities are discussed. What tasks need to be done? Who is responsible? Who will do what? Tips for experts: Ideally, your PMO can provide common project management rules and processes within your organization in the form of a project portfolio governance at this point. In addition, a project timetable is presented so that everyone involved has an overview. Depending on the scale of the project, each project team should organize a separate kick-off meeting with goals and concrete tasks.

  5. Questions & Answers (~15 minutes)
    Before the kick-off event comes to an end, it is important to answer all questions, both content-related and technical. But beware of time-consuming debates within the participants. You can prevent this by parking ideas for discussion in separate meetings or bilateral talks. Questions about general project management should have already been clarified in the previous steps of the kick-off or you can refer to the project’s governance. No questions left? Very good, then the kick-off meeting can come to an end!

  6. Closing (~5 minutes)
    Now it is time to look at the next concrete steps and last motivating remarks. Even if the project seems challenging, it can all be mastered with the right team and good cooperation.

**Do you need more insights on the topic of kick-offs?

Then download our resource with practical checklist for preparing a kick-off meeting for free! This will ensure that you don't forget any step in the planning and have a successful kick-off to your project.

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