Right, so far this was common sense, I’m pretty sure you had it already figured out.
What is the difference though between pulling through a project kickoff meeting and acing a project kickoff meeting?
There is no single trick unfortunately… but there are several, which might be even better! 😉
1 – Know what you need
We know why project kickoff meetings are important, but why do you, as a project coordinator, need this specific meeting?
Look at what is coming to you:
Is it a detailed project timeline?
Do you have to build up a website for the project?
Use the discussion in the project kickoff meeting to build material for what comes immediately after.
Say you need to build a project website right after the meeting – you might want to ask each partner to come to the kickoff meeting directly with their logo, photographs and outline of their task, ready to be uploaded. Also, you might want to assign in front of everyone responsibilities for the site.
Do you need to follow up with a report? Same thing: gear the meeting so that it can also give you content.
At this point, you may also be tempted to be a good project manager and involve all your partners in deciding the agenda. That would be the single largest mistake you could ever do for a kickoff meeting.
For two reasons:
1 – because YOU are the one responsible for choosing the content and guiding the partners, not vice versa;
2 – because Brainstorming does not work. I explain why in this article.
There is honestly nothing I hate more than pointless, long presentations in kick-off meetings.
I could not care less for 10 slides full of empty, ego-boosting stuff.
If it were for me I would actually eradicate Power Point from the face of the Earth, but that’s just me… the harsh truth is that YES, WE ALL NEED POWER POINT, and whether you love it or hate it, you are stuck with it.
So, instead of suffering through a boring presentation, give a standard template to the partners: shape it to what you need (see above) and request that all the partners respect it.
An example for your next kick-off meeting? Sure!
Title: date, name, title, project name;
Company presentation (ONE SLIDE ONLY, make this clear);
One slide per project ask, showing:
who is responsible for the task
who is responsible for giving the task leader the necessary information;
If you’ve ever been under a rapid-fire of questions…
I feel your pain!
Answering every single detail during a presentation is pointless and painstaking.
But in this section, I will show you exactly how to avoid this in your next kick-off meeting.
Just two words: Ben Duffies.
Ben Duffies are an old marketing technique. You must have heard salesmen saying “maybe you’re wondering why…” and then going on to answering that question.
This little technique gets you two massive wins:
you avoid other, less-relevant questions
you and answer and focus on only the most important points.
Long story short, lose the noise, figure out where questions will come from and answer them before they are asked.
Maybe you’re wondering if you could have an example of frequent kick-off meeting questions. Usually everyone asks about money and payments, so just include a section on financials in the agenda and you’re done. Oh and btw, yes this was a Ben Duffy right here ;-).
8 weeks before the meeting: set the date and location – communicate to all partners, request confirmation and number of participants – ask for any special requirements (i.e. disabilities, special diets, travel requirements…);
6 weeks before: contact catering with total number of participants and order food and coffee.
4 weeks before: conference call with all partners to present agenda, presentation templates and to-do list for the meeting. compile report of the call and send to everyone with the presentation template and specific instructions (e.g. how to get to the meeting room from the airport)
2 weeks before: collect presentations and review them
1 week before: finalisation of presentations
Leave the last week for last-minute travel arrangements or just to leave you some leeway if anything goes wrong.
And just to make sure you have everything planned out, make sure you take a look at my Excel Gantt Chart to absolutely NAIL your timing!
And since we’re at it, take a look at my book as well!