So you’ve landed a project! One of the first big project events you have is your kickoff. It allows for your project stakeholders to meet your project team, for the group as a whole to first come together and embark on your project as one team. So what are some key things you need to do before your kickoff to make it a success?
Prepare Your Presentation
This may seem like an obvious task but beyond preparing a presentation (i.e. building your slides) it’s imperative that you prepare for your presentation and go through the delivery of it multiple times as a dry run so that you deliver effectively. Remember, for a lot of stakeholders, this is their first impression of you and the more prepared you are the better of an impression you will make that may come in handy later on in your project. Pro tip: work with your customer project manager (or sponsor) to review the presentation before the meeting to ensure complete alignment with the content. Nothing is more awkward than having a disagreement in in front of the masses when delivering your presentation.
Baseline Your Project Schedule
One of the first questions you are going to field in your kickoff meeting is “when will the project be live”. It’s vital that you be able to answer that question with genuine authority which means that your project schedule needs to be baselined prior to kickoff. This is a process that requires key stakeholder input from your own team members to the customer stakeholders and team members as well. Identify critical path tasks, key items that – if delayed – will have a direct impact on your project schedule so that you can be sure to highlight these points during the kickoff presentation as well as during execution of your project.
Generate Project Excitement
The biggest win you can achieve at your project kickoff is to make everyone leave with a sense of excitement about your project. So before your kickoff you should brainstorm with your team and key customer stakeholders (project manager, project sponsor) on ways to create excitement about your project. Some of the easiest ways to do this is outline the benefits that each stakeholder are going to see as a result of the project execution – quicker processing times, less steps to do their work – basically explain how you will help them do their jobs better.
Project kickoffs are exciting – it’s the start of a new adventure and it should be treated as such. By preparation, more preparation, and even more preparation after that you will be setting your project off on a great footing.