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

Explore the true purpose of a kick-off meeting, ways to nail your presentation, and what special considerations to make for remote meetings. đź’»

The Meetingnotes Team
March 21, 2024

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.

1. 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.

<t-check>First<t-check>, 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.

<t-check>Second<t-check>, 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.

<t-check>Finally<t-check>, 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.

2.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.

3. 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 cohesion 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:


5. How do you run a kick-off meeting?

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 by establishing 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.

It will go something like this.

How to start a kick-off meeting. You can start a kick-off meeting by discussing what you want to accomplish at the meeting at a high level and what will be needed in order to make this happen.

Moving on to the project scope, it's time to be as specific as possible in your discussion so that it is clear what needs to be done by whom, when, and how. This will also give everyone an idea of the timeline for the project so they know when they should be ready with their parts and when they need assistance from other team members. This sets expectations about the project's scope, schedule, and the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the project.

Next, take a look at success criteria. This is the criteria by which you will be able to determine whether or not the project has been successful and how much you have progressed towards completion.

One way to do this is by defining some goals, any easy way to set expectations that all stakeholders and work together toward achieving.

The last part of the kick-off meeting is often to evaluate risks. This is important because it will help you to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may come up in the future and give you time to consider how you will deal with them.

You can deal with by using risk management techniques, such as planning or performing tests prior to beginning work or deciding whether or not you should proceed at all if there are too many risks involved.

Be sure to include all of the risks in high-risk areas as well so you will be prepared for the worst.

This is a lot to cover in your first meeting with the team, so you'll need to keep the discussions on point . Aim to end with time to spare because you'll need to include plenty of time for asking questions and getting clarification on any issues that arise.

When you are finished, you can sum up and key decisions and next steps, and briefly go over who owns any action items. This will help you to ensure that everyone is on the same page before you end.

6. Who attends the kick-off of a project?

The people who attend the kick-off of a project are those who are ultimately responsible for the success of the project. They are the ones who should be involved in creating a schedule, managing tasks, and monitoring progress. Anyone responsible for these activities should be invited.

7. How long should a kick-off meeting be?

A project kick-off meeting is a meeting that prepares an organization for the upcoming tasks or projects. This doesn’t have to be a huge event, and it will likely last for less than one hour. Some experts believe that companies should have these meetings 30 minutes or less.

This time is enough to go over tasks and goals, cover questions, and review any materials that need to be covered. Although this is a helpful guideline for most organizations, you may need more time based on your goals for the meeting.

8. How do you kick off a meeting?

On a related note, it's time to conduct your next meeting—kick-off meeting or not—but how do you start? There are plenty of ways to kick off this meeting, and it all depends on what you would like to achieve.

To boost morale and encourage cooperation, spend some time talking about the successes of the team working together.

To get a sense for how each member is feeling, ask them to individually discuss their best work from last year.

To show appreciation and respect for your employees' expertise or input, ask them to share some things they've been learning lately.

To gather information, it is a good idea to start off with the objective or problem at hand. Then, ask for help in finding out more information and let the other team members answer questions.

To keep the meeting focused and to stay on track, start with a brief review of your goals for the meeting. Then move quickly into your agenda.

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