How to Run an Internal Kick-off Meeting

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This article is about the project kick-off meeting, a meeting with your team only—no client—and gives the reasons why such a meeting should be on your radar. I’ve also included some suggestions on what topics to cover during the meeting.

Another Meeting!

Like we all need another meeting, I know. The purpose of the internal kick-off meeting is so you can brief your team on the project, their roles, what’s expected, hear their ideas and get rid of any misunderstandings early. Doing so helps everyone get really clear on the purpose and their role.

The Project

Explain the project, the reason it exists, how it stands now, what the end result is (success!) and the known risks. Also, explain the client to your team. This means, who they are (internal/external), what you know about them, other projects they’ve worked on, how the client likes to work (fast, slow, methodical), the client team members (personalities) and any extra information that would be helpful for your team to know.

Your Team

Explain each area of the project and which of your team members will be responsible for that area. Explain why you’ve chosen them to work on this project. Explain the deliverables associated with each area, why they exist and what needs to happen to make them a reality. Of course, do adjust for the seniority of your team as they may know better than you what needs to be done. As well, if any team members are new to your team, or new to the professional world in general, they may require more instruction as they are yet unclear about how you like your projects to run.

The Insight

Leave time and space for your team to suggest ideas, challenge your plan, and come up with a better way of working. Taking this ownership is a great step. Make room for this discussion to happen.

The Process

Talk over the project, how it will work, what tools will be used, the flow of communication, when the team will meet, when the client will be updated. This is the nuts and bolts part of how it’ll all get done.

The Client Kick-off Meeting

Explain when and where this will be held, who will be there and how the meeting will be run. Explain how you’ll introduce each member of the team. Rehearse. I know this may sound funny, but the point is that your team needs to look and act like it is a well oiled machine. If you can’t present well at the kick-off meeting in front of the client, how can they trust you’ll be able to complete the project?

Rehearse what’ll be said, who’ll say it, what slides you’ll show and what you’ll cover. This extra step will help your team feel more comfortable, know what you expect of them in front of the client, and knowing this, they can deliver.

You’ll also impress the client.  Few teams rehearse, and it shows.

What other items would be helpful to cover in an internal kick-off meeting? Leave your comments below.

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