There are few times in life as stressful as the moment right before you launch a new project.
Remember that time your in-laws were coming to stay and you left clearing out the guest bedroom until the literal last minute? Or that time you promised your flakey friend you’d read over their business plan and you arrived to find that they didn’t quite understand what a business plan was and they were meeting with potential investors in three hours? Project kick-offs are more stressful than that.
And they should be. That means your project matters, whether it’s a brand new marketing campaign for your business or a product launch. However, there are ways to mitigate that stress,and the first step is setting actionable goals and deadlines. For example, if you’re launching a new website, when do you want to go live and what needs to happen before that can become a reality? Essentially, everything rests on this meeting going well.
No need to stress out. Just practice those breathing techniques your mom’s hippy friend taught you and follow our advice on project kick-off meetings and how to do them the right way. Here’s what you need to know.
For starters, choose the right location
This is the best way to ensure that everyone you need at the project kick-off meeting can attend. If you have people from all over the country or state attending this meeting, choose a central location in the city that is easily accessible and make sure there are options when it comes to places for meeting attendees to stay. For example, a conference room rental in NYC is preferable to inviting everyone to your office in New Jersey, especially if you don’t necessarily have the space to host a professional gathering of this sort.
The place you choose needs to be free from the distractions of everyday business. Your focus needs to be specifically on this project and not on the fact that you’ve run out of the good coffee in the breakroom. You don’t want to have to stress about whether independent contractors, project partners or clients are judging your office. It’s best to keep the location professional and use a space that allows you to relax knowing that everyone will be comfortable and able to focus on the topic at hand.
Make sure everyone is up to speed before the meeting
Nothing can put a damper on the productivity of a project kick-off meeting like half the people in the room not being quite as clued up as you thought they would be. You can’t assume that everyone knows as much about the project as you do. After all, this project has been your priority for quite a while and there’s a chance that some of the attendees of this meeting were only recently brought onboard.
Don’t waste time during the meeting bringing people up to speed. Rather send out a digital “welcome pack” that includes all of the information everyone should have as well as a little introduction about each person. This will make sure that everyone is on the same page from the start and there will be no awkward hands raised by people who don’t quite know what they’re bringing to the table. Just because you know everything there is to know about this project doesn’t mean you can expect an independent contractor to have the same information.
Decide how you’re going to measure the success of the meeting
Any meeting you organize needs to have a desired outcome, and when it comes to a project kick-off meeting, this is even more important. Going into a meeting of this kind without a clear idea of what you want to happen will only lead to problems and delays in productivity. And that’s one way to ensure that this project is far more stressful than it needs to be.
Seeing as the purpose of this meeting is to actually launch the start of your project, there should be clear objectives and goals. Create a checklist before the meeting, even if it is just for yourself, and keep it in mind during the event. This way, you’ll be able to tell when you need to reign the conversation in and stay on track. If you go into a meeting without knowing how you’re going to measure its success, you’re causing your future self a whole lot more stress.
Project kick-off meetings are vital if you want to get the ball rolling in the right direction. They set the tone and decide whether the project is going to go smoothly and according to plan or result in you lying on your office floor frozen when you’re only halfway through the work and the deadline is two hours away. But don’t worry, follow the above advice and you’ll avoid making the common mistakes that tend to derail these events.
About the Author
Debbie Fletcher is an enthusiastic, experienced writer who has written for a range of different magazines and news publications over the years. Graduating from City University London specialising in English Literature, Debbie’s passion for writing has since grown. She loves anything and everything technology, and exploring different cultures across the world. She’s currently looking towards starting her Masters in Comparative Literature in the next few years.