Savvy Speaks: Perfecting the Kick-off

Savvy Speaks: Perfecting the Kick-off
Savvy Sisters - Wed Feb 09, 2011 @ 11:37AM
Comments: 31

In the afterglow of Superbowl Sunday, we Savvy Sisters got to wondering about our own kickoffs. Certainly the secret to a great project is a well-orchestrated kickoff meeting. Just as certainly, many a project has gone out of bounds or called offsides after a bad one. Here the sisters weigh in on their kickoff secrets  - see which ones you can use to improve your own game!

Stephanie

Stephanie

To ensure a productive kickoff, the person responsible for the project should fill out a planning guide or creative brief before the meeting. This forces your client -- or team member -- to consider key elements of the project ahead of time instead of on the fly. If necessary, that person can consult with the appropriate people to define the project scope, goals, and key criteria. Addressing these details before the kickoff paves the way for a smooth and fruitful meeting.

Kate

Kate

One of the most important ingredients in a quality kick-off is making sure all the stakeholders are present - or at the very least accounted for. I am sure every freelancer has run into the "third man" conundrum; your contact loves it, then just has to pass it by one final reviewer. Problem is, the final reviewer has a completely different idea about where the project should be going, and they have final approval. Whoops. 

Michele

Michele

Effective kickoff meetings cover the following areas:

Project details: Of course, you need to discuss all of the specifics about the project. Oftentimes, this is in the form of a creative brief that delves into the details about your audience and the content that is needed.

Promotion plan: In addition to talking about the content that needs to be created, you also need to develop a plan for how it will be launched. While these details don't need to be finalized during the kickoff, it helps to discuss the general plan.

Roles and responsibilities: Lay out who will be responsible for each of the specific tasks needed. Of course, there also needs to be person who has oversight for the entire project.

Next steps: During the kickoff, may details are discussed, so it's helpful to be clear with what the specific next steps will be.

Schedule: Lay out a schedule for the project including follow up meetings. It's often easier to get consensus with everyone in the room.

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Heather

Ask all the stakeholders for input when creating the agenda.  If they don't feel like they had a chance to give input upfront then they will be more likely to be disruptive in the meeting.  Also this gives you preemptive response if someone tries to go off topic during the meeting.  You gave them a chance to add agenda items prior so now they must follow the published agenda.

Once you have the agenda make sure you publish all prep materials, creative brief, project charter, outline, statements of work to either a common share that all project team members have access or via email at least 24 hours before.  Best to do it at least 72 hours before so there is no excuse for people to come in prepared.  You won't waste meeting time reading them to the participants this way.

Showing up front you are respectful of peoples time and ideas will go a long way to kicking off a successful project.


What are your best tips for a smooth kickoff?

Had any nightmare scenarios arising from an incomplete kickoff?

Let us know!

Comments: 31

Comments

1. Bill Gadless  |  my website   |   Wed Feb 09, 2011 @ 07:44PM

Ladies, as always great topic.
I think a strong (yet diplomatic) kickoff leader is key for keeping the conversation on track. Clients will inevitably go off the rails, and it can be difficult to get them back on track. (especially when they're paying you to be there). Endless individual pontification is one of the most common pitfalls. Like Heather says, the agenda is key. Next, be sure to make everyone stick to it!

2. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Thu Feb 10, 2011 @ 06:25AM

Bill, thanks so much for the terrific addition. I wholeheartedly agree that it's critical for someone with backbone and tact to lead the discussion. And I find that's true both at the onset of a project and during review cycles. In addition to keeping everyone on track, someone needs to get everyone to come to consensus on key points so projects can move forward.

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