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How to Run an Effective Project Kickoff Meeting

What's the main reason why projects fail? According to a Pulse of the Profession survey, 37% of executive leaders identified a lack of clear goals as the most common factor for why a project fails. In most cases, projects are not even completed! Did you know that only 2.5% of projects have a 100% completion rate, according to a PwC study of over 10,000 projects?  So, how can you increase your chances of not only completing a project but doing it successfully and with the least amount of issues? The answer lies in holding effective project kickoff meetings.

Project Kickoff Meeting

In case this type of meeting is new for you and you're wondering what the project kickoff meeting definition is, here you have it...

A project kickoff meeting is a meeting between everyone involved in a project, to discuss the main objectives, the deliverables, the timeline, and potential challenges. It is a critical part of project management to ensure smooth collaboration and successful execution. Holding a project kickoff meeting is even more crucial when your team has decided to hire an agency or a contractor to handle a larger scale project. Here's a basic overview.

Recommended Length: 30 Minutes - 1 Hour

When to Hold the Meeting: A week before the project is starting

Attendees:

  • Project Manager - The project manager usually serves as the facilitator of the meeting
  • Execution Team -  Designers, Writers, Developers
  • Other Stakeholders - Are there people that are not part of the execution team but need to be in the loop?

Is a Project Kickoff Meeting Necessary?

Now the real question, should you have a project kickoff meeting? And, should you spend the extra time and effort to plan the meeting or should you hold it adhoc? The answer is a yes, it's absolutely necessary to have one! Spending an extra hour before the project starts can save the project manager and the execution team tons of hours and lessen the potential stress involved as a result of miscommunication.

In general, according to a Miscommunication Survey, more than 80% of employees reported miscommunication occurred within the company frequently. Still, only half of these respondents admitted that they were directly involved or the cause of it. Miscommunications can be costly, especially if you're in the middle of a big project because it not only can affect the team's productivity, but it can lead to missing deadlines. According to the PwC study, failed IT projects in the United States cost $50-$150B in lost revenue and productivity.

Here are some other reasons why you would want to hold a project kickoff meeting:

  • Improve the team's dynamics
  • Establishes the project manager's leadership and communication skills
  • Keeps the team focus on the priorities to ensure that deadlines are met
  • Identify gaps in the project roadmap and address them before even starting

If you're still wondering what do you do in a kick off meeting, the agenda we're about to share should give you a pretty clear idea :).

What Should a Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda Include?

What do you do in a kickoff meeting? And how do you start a project kickoff meeting? The scope of the project dictates what should be included. For example, big projects with multiple phases might require a more detailed project kickoff meeting agenda. But in general, your project kickoff meeting should include these:

  • Project summary - Ideally, start with the why or the context of the project before diving into the meat of the project details. This ensures that every action that the team makes will help achieve this goal.
  • Goals - Dive deep into the objectives. For example, if it's a marketing project, make sure to have clear goals, such as gaining brand awareness or acquiring more customers. ****
  • Scope - Discuss the scope and the deliverables. What exactly is considered a complete and successful project? This is the time to emphasize what's NOT included. This is usually important for the contractor to avoid scope creep.
  • Who’s involved? - As we mentioned earlier, make sure to include everyone involved in the execution. Additionally, stakeholders that need to be in the loop, but not necessarily involved in the execution should also attend.
  • Timeline - Discuss the main deadline, but make sure to go through the deadline of each deliverable as well. For example, if it's a copywriting project, you need to identify deadlines for the draft completion and rounds of revisions.

Using a Complish Project Kickoff Meeting Template to Run an Effective Kickoff

To take it a step further and give you a clear picture, let's create a project kickoff meeting sample complete with the project kickoff agenda using Complish's Project Kickoff Meeting Template:

project kickoff meeting temlate

Besides using Complish to create your project kickoff meeting agenda, you can also:

✅ Link to all relevant documents that people can review before the meeting

✅ Tag other members involved in the project and ask your questions asynchronously before the meeting

✅ Use it as a guiding document for the discussion during the meeting

✅ Add action items with a deadline and owners after the meeting

✅ Set recurring reminders and use the same page for asynchronous status updates

Having this Complish Discussion page makes the meeting more efficient and comprehensive. Everything related to the meeting is also saved in one place, so everyone is on the same page as soon as the project starts.

Project Kickoff Meeting Email Example

Can you hold a project kickoff meeting in an email? If the project isn't too complex and there are no more than three people involved, yes, it's totally possible to do it by email. But first, make sure to have all the documents in place, such as the project roadmap.

Here's a project kickoff meeting invitation email sample that you can send to your team:

Hi Team,

We're excited to kick off our Product Hunt Launch Project! Here's the link to the Project Roadmap.

Let's use this Complish Discussion Page for this asynchronous project kickoff meeting. Tag me on the page if you have any questions or clarifications about the deliverables and deadlines. Also, add action items at the end of the page that we need to take care of before the project starts.

Please submit all your questions no later than Sept. 4 at 5 pm EST. Thank you!

Note that this email is short and straightforward. If you're planning to hold an asynchronous project kickoff meeting, make sure to include the instructions on how to communicate and the deadline of the discussion.

You can use asynchronous communication as a pre-kickoff meeting, so your synchronous meeting is more efficient. In most cases, you might even address everything asynchronously so there is no need to gather everyone in a video conference call. Another headache is saved by skipping the timezone calculations!

Elements of a Successful Project Kickoff Meeting

project-kickoff-meeting

Regardless of the method of the meeting, these are a few of the indicators that your project kickoff meeting is a success:

  • The project roadmap and communication plans have been established
  • All questions have been answered, and confusions have been clarified
  • If your team feels excited to start the project just like meme cat

Ready to kick off your project kickoff meeting? Check out our project kickoff meeting template with the pre-filled agenda that you can easily edit and share with your team. We also have dozens of other meeting templates, such as a retrospective meeting template if you need to review all of your efforts after a project has ended.