1. Gathering the Brainstorming Team
Before you send out the group invite, sit down and think hard about who belongs in the first meeting and the last. Decide which thinkers are the best for all aspects of the project at hand and keep it light. Too many people bring too much to the table that could clutter and bury the idea that works. We all know the sooner we get the creative edge we need, the project rolls off. This is where that starts.
A good group should consist of three to five creative minds and can definitely expand to near seven and eight when more technical and marketing approaches must be considered for the scope of the project. The goal is to make sure the right people are there so it isn’t a waste of time for anyone.
2. Make a Good First Impression
The invitation should consist of a clear mission statement for the project to come. It will briefly outline the agenda. What you don’t want to do is just roll up into the meeting and expect everything to go your way and be completely fine. The brainstorm team may be a very intelligent bunch, but no one wants to walk into a room and not have a single inkling on what this whole gathering is about.
Make sure the invitation is absolutely clear on the objective of the meeting. Ensure you’re synced with your clients. Sometimes a meeting is really just a glorified meet and greet, and sometimes that’s fine. Though keep in mind if you want to make the meeting useful, the agenda must include what you think the first and next steps should be on the project. Plan out whatever it is you need to make it happen.
3. Set a Clear Agenda
Once you’ve defined your objectives for the kick-off meeting, work on developing an agenda which allows you to meet those objectives.
When running kick-off meetings we’re trying to answer the basic questions:
- Why – Why are we doing this project in the first place? What business need does it satisfy? How does this project meet a consumer need?
- What – What’s the solution? What are we going to do / make?
- How – How are we going to work together to make the project happen?
- When – When are we going to do it?
- Where/Who – Where is the starting point for kicking things off? Who’s going to do what?
4. Kickoff with a Pre-Kickoff
This is a two step process. First, and foremost, go over the agenda with the team. Break it down, examine your next steps and outline what you all will handle during the meeting with the client. Designate rolls for discussion topics and make sure the team is fluent in the who, what, where, when and why of the project specifics and the next few steps toward completion.
Lastly, meet up with the client, one-on-one, and explain the agenda and where the team will be directing the client’s project. Our goal is to not blindside the client with information and get a feel for how this will play out. Prepare the client to come to the table with an open mind. Gather feedback, examples, and talking point suggestions from your client and update the agenda as necessary. Follow through with the team after the client is satisfied in the dialogue to come and project at hand. The kickoff will actually be after two or three small gatherings independently with the client and the whole team. The discussion will have already started and the work is half way done.
5. Keep It Fluid
The kickoff meeting has finally started and your team and client’s team are all gathered in one room. Keep the meeting going and allow the conversation to organically grow. Above all else, continue spurring the communication to allow the team and client to collaborate and create the winning solution. To help you along definitely prepare and show a presentation deck, handouts, and any visual material the team can prepare that will help bring the discussion to life and carry it forward.
Finally, don’t forget to write a contact report as you go along to capture the focal points of your meeting.