The Secret of Kickoffs? Feelings/Time/What is it?

What is the single most important thing?

Why are we making this product? What does it mean for immediate goals and for the company overall.  Extra credit points if you can connect the work to a good feeling for all who participate.  Feelings are more interesting than ideas which are more interesting than tasks.  So, you need a sentence like this:

We are kicking off the development of a mobile platform for the children’s education fund today, but before we get into details, let’s review the business context and goals for this new product.  Uneducated children are sad and ruin nation states.  The work you do on this product will improve the lives of children and make the United States safer.

Or- non sexy version

We are kicking off the creation of a new risk analytics algorithm for the real estate market.  Many such algorithms exist, but we have never had the right one for our company that incorporates historical purchase data.  This novel approach will create the first proprietary model in the company.  It is exciting to be at the bleeding edge of financial risk management research.

Confirm “The What” we are building

It sounds silly, but I have been to many presentations where no one ever says what “it” is.

Engage the Team

This is a bit advanced, but where possible, have people present their own material.  No one wants to hear you talk the whole time.

Keep it Short and Focus on Follow-up

It is a lot of new information.  Most people will retain 10%.  90 minutes should do it.  You should plan on doing a more discussion oriented follow-up meeting with each team to fine tune the schedule and approach.  So, in a way, the second meeting is the real kickoff.

After the kickoff you should provide the following: the kickoff deck, the proposed high-level schedule, access to your share drive and a proposed schedule for weekly or bimonthly check-in meetings.

If anyone missed the meeting, set up a call to give them their own personal kickoff meeting