Kick-off meetings, I have found, especially for complex projects like software development, are very important as it ensures that the contours of the project are laid out very clearly.
So you put the word out, either via social media marketing, a radio ad, or by some other means that you are open for business. The word got around and a friend of a friend told their cousin's sister about your services.
She gave you a call, ya'll talked briefly about her project - the features she wants, the timeframe within which she would like the project completed and her budget.
You took the whole weekend to lay out a plan of action and you sent her out an email inviting her to meet you for lunch for a briefer / kick-off meeting. How do you ensure that your meeting goes smoothly? And by that I mean how do you make the experience a productive, profitable and painless one?
What is a Kick-off meeting?
A kick-off meeting can be held between project teams, client-project teams, or between a service provider/entrepreneur such as yourself and a client. Typically, prior to a kick-off meeting, both parties will have had several conversations about what the prospective client is looking for and you would have communicated that you are able to fill such an order.
If you are perhaps a web developer, you and the prospect would have discussed everything from budget to color schemes. You may have even secured a written agreement greenlighting the project in theory.
A kick-off meeting will be the final meeting or one of several before the project itself commences. During this type of meeting is when the client and provider nail down all the details of the project to be. This is when all parties "get on the same page", as they say.
Why kick-off meeting is important?
Project kick-off meetings are important for many reasons, the least of which is to ensure that there are no time-consuming costly mistakes caused by a lack of a clear plan or miscommunication. Some projects may require ongoing meetings due to complexity or an evolving set of needs. Your first kick-off meeting, in such a case, should also set the tone for the need for multiple meetings.
What should be covered in a project kickoff meeting?
An effective project kick-off meeting should cover the following topics:
Introductions - This is a vital step when multiple parties are working together on the same project. You will sometimes see Lawyers introduce other service providers like accountants and investment advisors to a client at a kick-off meeting to start an estate planning project.
Project overview - When meeting one-on-one with a prospective client, it is important to start out the meeting by going over the reason(s) for the project and the general objectives.
Scope - Here is one of the most important parts of any project kick-off meeting. At this stage, you will want to gt into the nitty-gritty of what you are going to do for your client, what's in or outside the scope of the project and a detailed list of your deliverables and timeframes/milestones.
Roles and responsibilities - Run your project kick-off meetings in such a manner as to ensure that everyone, especially the client is clear about which team members, outside groups, are responsible for what Some projects may not require that the client is in the loop about this part.
To ensure that you have a successful kick-off meeting between each client, you must take several things into consideration.
Among, many preparatory steps you must take, the most important, in my view, is the one that ensures that the meeting is brief but informative. That being said, here are three tips to help you kick ass at your next kick-off meeting.
Visual is the key
By now, I think we are all familiar with the idea that different folks absorb information differently. Some are tactile while others are auditory, and so on. To ensure that you cover the learning needs of your client and/or team members, it helps to infuse your project kick-off meeting(s) with eye-catching compelling visuals. Include charts, graphs, videos, and even a prototype if applicable.
I advise that you do not fall into the common trap of creating a single process for all project kick-off meetings. Do not view these meetings as a mere formality, some mundane set of actions you must take to kick-off new projects.
This view will ultimately hurt your business. I often come across entrepreneurs who will even try to solicit business with a set of obviously -pre-written statements. Folks will say they have done their research on you to know how they can help with some problem you are having, while having zero clues as to what your company does or where you are even located, geographically.
Be sure to create each plan for not just your kick-off meetings, but your entire client onboarding process to meet the uniquely-specific needs of each prospect.
Tools of the trade
There are various software applications out there that can help you run successful project kick-off meetings. These applications are built for teams and service providers to help stay on track of projects as well as to collaborate more effectively with all stakeholders.
These are the top three I have found to be invaluable:
InVision is the digital product design platform used to make the world's best customer experiences.
Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content.
Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars