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Lead A Project Kickoff Meeting That Spells Success

You’re about to lead your first team project and it’s time to get it under way. We’ll tell you how to establish a strong leadership presence and project direction during the kickoff meeting.

Goal: You want your project’s kickoff meeting to set the tone for the entire project. Establish yourself as the kind of leader your team wants to follow, pump up the team for the project and show that the project is well-planned and organized.
Michael Sisco shares his recipe for a terrific project kickoff meeting in his article "Follow These Steps To Conduct An Effective Project Kickoff Meeting." Here’s how he proceeds:

1) Prepare a basic agenda. Send out the agenda ahead of time so team members know what to expect. Include information such as the project name, manager and participants. Also, outline what you’ll cover in the meeting, such as the project goals, team member roles, project plan, success factors, etc.

2) Keep the meeting on task but light-hearted. If your team members enjoy the meeting, they’ll be more motivated to work on the project. At the same time, you want to keep up the flow. The kickoff meeting is supposed to get everyone on the same page, not discuss minute details, says Sisco.

3) Introduce yourself, team members and the project. Share the project’s goals and deliverables, along with each team member’s role.

4) Present project highlights. Tell team members what factors are vital to the project’s success -- and tasks that may prove as challenges. Remind your team that the current project plan isn’t set in stone, and that there will be an opportunity for modification before the next meeting, encourages Sisco.

5) Set up a time for weekly meetings. Encourage full participation in these meetings and tell your team members to look out for one another.

6) Empower the team. Ask them to take ownership of their personal responsibilities -- but also encourage them to ask for help when they need it.

7) Explain how the team will communicate. You must stay in contact throughout the project, so discuss other communication options besides the weekly team meeting. Do you need to report to senior management during the project? Do you have a point of communication on the company intranet? These are issues you’ll want to discuss.

8) Answer questions. Leave time at the end of the meeting to answer the team’s questions. If you run out of time, encourage team members to call or email their questions. Then, post the Q&A in a place where everyone can access it.

9) Close with clear expectations. End the meeting with clear-cut action items. Point out what tasks the team needs to complete before the next meeting -- and what you expect everyone to bring to your next meeting..


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