Kicking off a new project can be an exciting process: It’s the start of a chance to collaborate with new team members, get to know a new client, or take charge of an initiative within your own company. But it can also be a test of your project management skills, which is why it’s key to clearly understand the project scope and needed deliverables.
A project kickoff meeting is your opportunity to introduce everyone on the project team and ensure that all of your stakeholders are on the same page. By clarifying the project plan now, you’ll be less likely to run into issues later.
Here’s everything you need to know about project kickoff meetings and how to create your own kickoff meeting agenda.
What is a kickoff meeting?
All successful projects start with a project kickoff meeting, which occurs early on in the process. Schedule your kickoff after you’ve assembled a team, but before you start doing any work on the project.
The purpose of a kickoff meeting is to set expectations, foster positive relationships, and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the project objectives.
Your project kickoff meeting might fall into one of these three categories:
- Internal team kickoff: If your project will improve your own company, you likely won’t need to coordinate with external stakeholders at your kickoff meeting. You can simply get your team up to speed on the project timeline, project management framework, and any other relevant information.
- Internal stakeholder or sponsor kickoff: If your project has a sponsor or stakeholder within your own company, you’ll need to provide them with a project roadmap or executive summary within your team kickoff.
- External stakeholder or client kickoff: If your project is for a client or an external stakeholder, you’ll want to introduce your team, discuss the project’s purpose, and check in about the scope of the project and any project deliverables.
Top 4 kickoff meeting agenda tips
Since the first meeting sets the tone for the entire project, it’s worth spending a little extra time to start things off on the right foot.
What makes for a successful project kickoff meeting agenda? Should you include in-depth project background information in your meeting presentation? Or should you assume that everyone knows why you’re here and dive right into the first part of the project?
That depends on whether you have an existing relationship with key stakeholders and how many details you need iron out before you get started. But as a general rule, it’s better to over communicate. After all, any new project team members will appreciate more information.
Here are three tips to help you run a successful project kickoff meeting:
1. Make time for icebreakers
The purpose of a kickoff meeting is as much to foster teamwork and build enthusiasm for the project as it is to talk through logistics.
Your project kickoff meeting should include all project stakeholders – from your newest employee to your client or executive sponsor. That means you’ll need to make time for introductions, even if you think everyone knows each other.
A few well-placed icebreakers early on can help everyone relax and feel comfortable participating in the conversation. Plus, any rapport you build now can help you keep your team engaged at future team meetings and even on your next project.
2. Show your work
By the time you put together a kick off meeting agenda, you’ll already have done some research or other preparation as a project manager. So, spend some time clarifying your project goals and discussing which project management methodology you’ll use.
Be sure to include any supporting documents as part of your kickoff meeting agenda – or better yet, share them in advance using Slack or Google Docs.
3. Take meeting notes and delegate action items
Even if you already have the project details written down, designate a note-taker or use an automated note taking tool like Anchor AI to take notes for you.
Meeting notes are important because they serve as a record of what you discussed, so you can look back on them later if there are any disagreements about the project scope, process, and roles.
Plus, taking good meeting notes makes it easier to follow-up on action items and ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities.
If you want to go above and beyond note taking, you can use a transcription service to transcribe your virtual meeting or record your meeting in Zoom or Google Meet.
4. Keep it short and sweet
Kickoff meetings are an important part of the project management process, but there’s no need to go into overtime. For most projects, you should be able to get through a kickoff meeting agenda in less than an hour. After all, you’ll have plenty of time to hold other types of meetings throughout the course of the project.
How do you create a kickoff meeting agenda template?
Even if you’ve held a kickoff meeting before, don’t wing it! Go into your meeting with a detailed kickoff meeting agenda to set your team up for project success. Here’s an example of a project kickoff meeting agenda that you can customize for your team:
Introductions (2-5 minutes)
Start off by introducing each team member and their role on the project. If you have time, this is a good opportunity to include some icebreakers. In any case, some light conversation can help everyone start to relax and start to form a rapport.
Project background (5-10 minutes)
Next, provide a broad overview of the project, such as who initiated the project, which parts of the company will be involved in it, and any prior projects that relate to this one. Basically, what brought your team to this project, and how does it fit into any long-term goals for your company or external stakeholders?
This section should be relatively short, since only some of this info will be relevant to the day-to-day operations of the project. A short video or Powerpoint slides are a great way to provide this context without going into too much detail. However, not all teams will need this section, as many kickoff teams will already know this information before the meeting starts.
Project plan (15 minutes)
This section should be the main focus on your meeting. You’ll want to cover all three aspects of the project management triangle – time, scope, and budget – including any specific milestones and deliverables you’ve already agreed on.
Here’s where you’ll want to show off your Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and any other Scrum or Agile tools you’ll be using to make the project go smoothly.
Everyone should discuss their different viewpoints on what the project entails to avoid potential scope creep later on.
Roles and responsibilities (8-10 minutes)
Now, break down the project into smaller components and identify who is responsible for each task. If tasks need to be completed in a certain order (i.e., there are a lot of dependencies), you can use a workflow diagram to show how it all fits together.
Leave some time for questions here, in case anything isn’t clear. You may also want to compile a single source of truth as the go-to resource for this project.
Action item review (5 minutes)
Finally, wrap up your kickoff meeting agenda by going over any action items that have come up during the meeting. This is different from the roles and responsibilities section, since it refers to items that need to be acted on right away – such as following up with another stakeholder for clarification, or posting your meeting notes online.
Set your project up for success
Kickoff meetings set the stage for your project. They’re a time to get to know the players involved, develop a rapport, and come to a common understanding about the project.
During your kickoff meeting, leave time to get to know each other. Discuss your project methodology, take notes, and keep the meeting a brief, general overview of the project. Include introductions, the project background, your project plan, roles and responsibilities, and action items in your kickoff meeting agenda.
No matter what kind of meeting you’re planning, use Anchor AI to take notes. You can use it to identify individual speakers and action items in real-time, or turn your virtual meeting recording into a searchable, time-stamped transcript.
Try the beta version now to get started!