December 24, 2020
Essential Steps to Rock Your Kickoff Meeting
There is a high price to pay when making a bad first impression, and everyone has been in that position. Whether it was a weak handshake that tends to convey a lack of confidence or a wrinkled outfit that demonstrates a lack of care, laziness, or even no attention to details. There are plenty of ways that a meeting can go wrong from the get-go. Fortunately, there are several steps that anyone can take beforehand to ensure a smooth start and smooth sailings later on.
For those who are looking to have productive meetings, having a strong opening is essential. There is nothing worse for a meeting then having the key speaker who starts a monologue that takes up a lot of time or someone running very late and ends up in a situation where the meeting has to be restarted just for them. A strong meeting opening should set the tone for the meeting, introduce all the major themes that will be discussed, and provide a preview of what the participants should expect.
Right from the start, the speaker or whoever is leading the meeting should clearly state the purpose of that meeting. Many people have sat through meetings before, not understanding what was going on or why the meeting was being held in the first place.
In fact, the purpose of the meeting should be stated on the agenda, and stated by the person leading it, at the beginning. While the purpose is being discussed, it’s also often smart to emphasize what the meeting isn’t going to be about – an idea-generating meeting isn’t going to have decision-making topics. Those are for a separate meeting.
After stating the purpose of the meeting, the key speaker should go through the meeting agenda and talk about all the points to make the meeting’s major themes clear for all its participants. Before each item on the agenda, the speaker should take a moment to clarify the item and the goal behind it.
This also means that if there are any ground rules for the meeting, they need to be discussed. For example, during a decision-making meeting, the speaker should clarify who gets to cast a vote on the decision or whether the person making a decision is looking for any additional ideas or recommendations.
Finally, during the preview stage of the meeting, the key speaker should also tell all the participants what level of participation is expected from each of them. The participants should be asked to modify their contributions to make sure they take up as much time during the meeting as everyone else. If there are any underlying issues, they should be discussed during the meeting, not before or after it.
If anyone starts going off-topic during their time, they should be reminded of the purpose of the meeting and its agenda to avoid wasting valuable meeting time or risk the meeting running any longer than necessary.