A kickoff meeting can be one of the most important meetings that a company has with a client. It’s your chance to get all the key players together early and make sure everyone is on the same page before the project gets underway.
Unfortunately, because of current global health concerns, getting people together has become much harder. On top of that, working remotely comes with its own set of challenges.
Below are 19 ways to improve virtual meetings that will help make your next remote kickoff meeting a success. Plus, we have an outline of what to include in your remote kickoff meeting agenda to ensure all essential topics are covered.
What is a kickoff meeting?
A kickoff meeting is the first formal meeting held to launch or “kickoff” a new project or a new phase of an existing project. It usually occurs soon after project initiation. In some larger projects, you may have an initial kickoff for the planning phase and have a second kickoff meeting before the execution phase.
You may also have a kickoff meeting for internal stakeholders and a separate one with the client. The benefit of two meetings is that you can ensure everyone is up to speed before kicking things off with the client. But, for smaller, simpler, or more routine projects, this may be unnecessary.
Kickoff meetings generally involve all key project stakeholders, including anyone who will be heavily involved in the project or has the power to influence its success.
A kickoff meeting is your opportunity to clarify the client’s expectations and explain the process your team will carry out to complete the project. It’s also a chance for you to demonstrate your abilities and build stakeholders’ confidence.
Remote kickoff meeting ideas that impress
Your kickoff meeting helps officially launch the project with your client. If the meeting goes poorly, it can cause your client to lose confidence in your ability to manage the project. It can also cause them to lose faith that the project will be a success.
Here are 19 kickoff meeting ideas to ensure your remote kickoff goes off without a hitch:
Before the meeting:
- Outline the vision, purpose, and expected results of the project.
- Identify your key stakeholders and what their roles on the project will be.
- Start outlining the project plan. Key milestones should be tentatively scheduled, so that you can discuss them with the client at the kickoff.
- Determine expectations. What will you expect from the client and from your team? How will you measure performance and quality of deliverables?
- Start recording potential risks the project may face, so you can share this with the client and discuss how they may be handled if they occur.
- Plan team and client communication. Will you have daily or weekly video chats? Will you have a dedicated Slack channel or keep all communication within your project management tool? Who on the project will interface with the client, and how often?
- Select your project methodology. Will you be using a traditional project method such as Waterfall, or an Agile method like Scrum?
- Choose the tools everyone will need and set them up. If you are doing a video conference, make sure everyone who needs to attend has access to the software and knows how to use it.
- Schedule your meeting for a day and time that all key stakeholders can attend. Keep in mind people may be in different time zones or working irregular hours as they juggle other priorities. A shared calendar can help you find a time that works for all.
- Set your meeting agenda in advance, so that you can share it in the meeting invite. You should also prepare any slides or handouts and distribute them before the meeting.
During the meeting:
- Arrive early. Meeting etiquette is important, especially when you’re remote. Make sure you log in early and are adequately prepared.
- Remove any distractions. Make sure you’re in a quiet room, your phone ringer is off, and your chat is set to "do not disturb." Ask people to mute their mics when not talking so they don’t distract others.
- Use video. It may be tempting to do a voice-only call, but video provides an important personal touch that calls do not. It helps improve communication since viewers can see your facial expressions.
- Dress appropriately. You may be working from home, but it’s still a professional call. Your attire should be the same as what you would wear to an in-person client meeting.
- Make introductions. Start by introducing everyone on the call. Then lay out any ground rules for the conference, such as how questions will be handled.
- Stick to the schedule and agenda. Make sure the conference doesn’t go longer than scheduled. Ask people to save off-topic discussion and questions for another time, or tell them you’ll follow up with them after the call.
- Close the meeting. After you finish going through the agenda, don’t just drop off the call. Make sure you thank everyone for attending and formally end the conference.
After the meeting:
- Record and share meeting minutes. After the meeting, record any decisions made, actions agreed to, or questions that need to be followed up. Store this information in a central location and share it with attendees and key stakeholders.
- Communicate next steps. Share the next project steps with your client and team members, including details of their expected involvement and when and how you will next be in touch.
What to include in your kickoff meeting agenda
Your kickoff meeting agenda should include:
- Introductions. Who is on the conference, what their role in the project will be, what their background is, where they’re located, etc.
- Project overview. This includes the vision, goals, outcomes, and scope of the project.
- Project approach. What tools, systems, resources, processes, etc. will be used? What project methodology will be followed? How will deliverables be reviewed and approved?
- Risks, issues, and changes. Discuss how risks and changes will be identified, tracked, and managed.
- Reporting and communication. Discuss how often meetings will occur, when and how will they take place, and who will attend. Make sure to cover when and how progress updates will be shared.
- Resources required. Outline anything you need from the client to complete the project, including what it is and when you need it by.
- Next steps. Be clear about what happens next, and when.
- Questions. Open up the floor for questions or concerns.
- Wrap-up. Reiterate anything that was agreed on and any action items. Thank everyone for attending and close the meeting.
Remote kickoff meetings have their own unique challenges, but they don’t need to be a burden for you or your clients. With the right tools and planning in place, you may be even more efficient than you were before.
Want to discover how Wrike can help you run the perfect remote kickoff meetings with your clients? Wrike's flexible work management platform allows teams to collaborate seamlessly, whether they're in the same office or across timezones. Sign up for a free trial today.