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How to create an effective project kickoff meeting agenda
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How to create an effective project kickoff meeting agenda

Discover which items should be on your project kickoff meeting agenda to run more effective and engaging meetings.

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Gathering your team, clients, and stakeholders for a project kickoff meeting is an exciting opportunity to set the tone for a new undertaking. There’s a lot to cover, though, and a lot of different people in the room. How are you going to get through everything and keep everyone engaged? 

A well-planned kickoff meeting sets the tone for a successful project. Done right, these meetings advance understanding, align teams and set projects up for success. Poorly planned ones, however, undermine effectiveness and add to meeting fatigue. 

That’s why you need to create a project kickoff meeting agenda that respects and makes the most of everyone’s time—which might include doing more outside the meeting.

In this post, we’ll walk you through how to create a solid project kickoff agenda that sets your meeting–and project–up for success. With a well-planned agenda, you can run more efficient and engaging meetings and give people back more time to get work done. 

Do more outside of meetings; make the ones you do have more valuable.  
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What should be on your project kickoff meeting agenda and why? 

A strong project kickoff meeting agenda sets the tone for your first meeting and, therefore, the whole project. The order of items may vary by project, but the aim is for everyone to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of the project, their role in it, and how they’ll work together to achieve success.  

Let’s take a look at how to cover all that. 

Project background and purpose 

Get your kickoff off on the right foot by going over the project brief, starting with the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve and the problem you’re solving for your business or customers.  

This high-level overview should cover:

  • Project description. What the project entails, the benefits it will deliver, and who the end user is. This helps everyone grasp the overall impact and what they’ll be working on, as well as how the project meets the end user’s needs. 
  • Historical context and need. What led to the idea for the project? This might include relevant information about the client or previous similar projects, as well as insights into existing issues and pain points. Understanding all this helps team members appreciate the project's urgency and impact, which will help them stay motivated further down the line if things get tough. 

For example, imagine a software development team tasked with creating a custom customer relationship management (CRM) system to improve lead nurturing for an important client. During their kickoff meeting, the project lead starts by reviewing the project's background, explaining that the new system is needed to better track and manage customer interactions and data. 

Pro tip: Share the project brief and other materials in your Switchboard project room before the meeting. That way, everyone can get up to speed beforehand, so you can spend less time on readouts in the meeting. 
Switchboard room with project documents and notes.
Switchboard lets you do more before the meetings, so you can save meeting time for topics you need everyone’s input on.

Goals and success metrics 

Clear goals are essential to guide the project’s direction and know how you’ll measure project success. Having outlined the big-picture goal in the brief (CRM development), now it’s time to specify the smaller objectives that will feed into that. Using the objectives and key results (OKRs) framework can be effective here, as it helps clarify how short-term goals contribute to long-term ones.  

For example, our CRM development team might have interim goals like gathering and analyzing requirements, creating wireframes and a prototype, and conducting beta testing. Success at each phase might be defined by delivering on time and within budget. 

Jordan Hirsch, CEO, Lead Trainer & Coach, FishTree, recommends prioritizing goals with your team to ensure a shared understanding of what the project aims to achieve: "Make sure everyone is aligned on what you’re trying to achieve with this project. It's surprising, sometimes, because you have all this back and forth as the project's ramping up. All the documents get signed; of course we know what the goals are. Then, you start asking people and you're hearing different things and it's clear people aren’t on the same page.” 

“Fostering alignment around goals is incredibly valuable. Without the right goals, you don't have a framework for prioritizing as you go along." Jordan Hirsch, CEO, Lead Trainer & Coach, FishTree

Check out our post on how to run a kickoff meeting to learn how to do this. 

Project scope and deliverables 

Agreeing on the project scope is fundamental to delivering on time and within budget. Needs change and projects naturally evolve but, unless you have endless time and money, you’ll need to establish boundaries to prevent scope creep. This can lead to delays, going over budget, and unmet client expectations. 

Establishing scope early on also lets you forecast more accurately and gives the team a better understanding of their tasks and the constraints on them. 

At this point, you can share the statement of work. This should be a concise description that outlines key features and functions, specifying what is or isn’t included, and addressing any assumptions and constraints, like limited budget or tight deadlines. Getting all stakeholders aligned on this helps balance needs with realistic deliverables. 

For example, our CRM project might include integration with existing company systems, but not an overhaul of any business processes unrelated to CRM functions. 

Timelines and milestones  

Clear timelines and milestones serve to guide the project from start to finish. You need to know the start and end dates and which goals you need to hit along the way and when. This lets you plan, allocate resources, and anticipate factors like dependencies that may affect your ability to hit deadlines. 

For example, our CRM development includes milestones like completing the user interface design by the end of Q2 and launching a beta version for testing in Q3. Knowing this lets you plan for those times when the whole team needs to be heads-down, as well as any critical dependencies you’ll need completing on time to hand off to the next team.   

Present project deliverables on a chronological timeline showing major milestones, tasks, dependencies, and due dates. This serves as a roadmap that gives your team an overall understanding of project progression and the expectations at each stage.

Pro tip: Pull up your project timeline in your Switchboard project room so everyone knows where to find it. Everything stays right where you left it after the meeting, so team members, clients, and other stakeholders can hop into the room anytime to check whether you’re still on track.
Switchboard room with project management software and chat.
With Switchboard you can communicate in chat and comment threads, during a meeting or between meetings.

Budget and resources 

This includes your financial budget and non-financial resources, both internal and external. For example, what you’ll need in terms of permanent staff, contractors, servers, tools, equipment, office space, etc. 

Clearly identifying and understanding requirements lets you plan and allocate resources effectively and keep the project on track. For example, as well as a budget to cover salaries, software and hardware costs, servers, and data migration, our CRM team sets aside 10-20% of the budget to cover contingencies that could cause delays, like challenges with integrations. 

Roles and responsibilities  

Defining clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations for internal and external stakeholders provides clarity, ensures all tasks are covered, and prevents confusion or duplicate work. 

At this point, our CRM team would assign specific team members to tasks in the design, development, testing, and launch phases. They’ll also specify points of contact in the client’s company, including who to interview from Sales and Customer Success to gather requirements.  

“Defining who's responsible for what is really helpful. Someone’s title doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.” Jordan Hirsch, CEO, Lead Trainer & Coach, FishTree

Next, get clear on the wider universe of stakeholders: Who needs to be kept informed about the project? Who could crush it from a distance if they don't like what they're seeing? Who unofficially needs to know about things but isn't on the org chart? Answering these questions now can prevent surprises later on. 

Finally, understand your support network: Identify the go-to team and their contact information so everyone knows where to turn when they’re struggling. 

Pro tip: Share org charts and contact information in your Switchboard room so everyone can always find them.
Switchboard page showing how to open an app.
All web-based apps and docs work in Switchboard. Just pull up what you need and get to work.

Challenges and risks 

Discussing potential challenges and risks encourages collective problem-solving and lets you plan and prepare your team to deal with possible issues. 

The project manager should develop a risk management plan, with risks prioritized based on their potential impact. This lets you develop mitigation strategies and assign responsibility for specific risks to certain teams or individuals, so they can catch them before they escalate and cause delays. 

For each risk, discuss what steps you’ll take to prevent it, and what you’ll do if it still occurs. This includes risks identified during the sales cycle, as well as general ones based on past similar projects. 

For example, from prior experience, our CMR dev team knows that making compromises during coding to meet tight deadlines can affect how easy it is to scale the system in the future.    

Tools and methodology  

Next comes the meat of the meeting: How you’re going to get it all done. In this section, you want to cover things like:

  • Project execution framework. This covers how your team will work together efficiently. For example using a framework like Agile, Waterfall, or similar. 
  • Tracking and reporting. How you’ll monitor progress, tasks, and project status, including which project management software (for example, Asana, Jira) to set up workflows. 
  • Communication and information sharing. Define which paid or free project collaboration tools your team will use to communicate. For example, Slack for instant messaging, Switchboard for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, Notion for knowledge management, etc. You also want to define how often you’ll meet, as well as channels and procedures for receiving and addressing stakeholder feedback. 

For example, our CRM team will be following Agile methodology, with bi-weekly sprints and daily stand-up meetings to facilitate collaboration. 

Pro tip: Switchboard lets you keep everything–and everyone–organized in one central space. No more unproductive context switching between tools and tabs or digging through email and Slack threads to find information. 

All your favorite tools work in the room with no integrations and everything stays right where you left it after meetings. That means people can hop in at any time to talk things out in context or make progress async.
Switchboard room with people, apps, and notes.
Switchboard lets you do more in meetings—and in between them.

Next steps and action items 

By the end of the meeting, you should have a clear plan that specifies what needs to happen next and by when—and who’s responsible for what. At this point, you can also share the date of the next follow-up meeting and what each person needs to do to prepare for it.  

Q&A / Discussion

Leave time for questions, discussion, and clarifications so everyone leaves with a clear understanding of the new project, their role, the communication plan, and their immediate next steps. Open dialogue also sets you up for a successful project by promoting transparency and good communication. 

Project kickoff meeting agenda template 

Here’s a project kickoff meeting template you can adapt for your meeting:

Kickoff meeting template

Note that the times given here are just a guide. Check out this post to learn more about how long a kickoff meeting should be. 

How to create your project kickoff meeting agenda

Here are a few tips on putting your project kickoff meeting agenda together, which should also help energize your kickoff meeting:

  • Co-create it. Get input on agenda items from your team in advance to increase buy-in and ownership of topics.
  • Make it funnel-shaped. Start with high-level or group topics and let people leave once their part is done. 
“Getting clear about who needs to be there for what is a great way to keep engagement high. When people are allowed to leave when they would have naturally tuned out anyway, you get a reputation for meetings that are actually useful for people." Jordan Hirsch, CEO, Lead Trainer & Coach, FishTree
  • Frame the agenda as questions to be answered. At the end, this helps determine whether you achieved the meeting's goals. 

Project kickoff meeting agendas: Stay on track, get more done 

A well-planned kickoff meeting agenda lets you cover everything your team needs to know, keeping it relevant and productive without going over time. 

Items on that agenda might include the project background, scope, and goals, roles and responsibilities, and anticipated risks and challenges. It also covers budgets, milestones, and timelines. Most importantly, the team leaves knowing which methods and tools they’ll use for collaboration and communication. 

When you include Switchboard in your project tech stack, you get dedicated rooms that save your work. That means you can explore any apps, file, or document in the room side by side or hop in on your own time to make progress without switching between tools or tabs. No more room prep, no more sharing links and materials, just effective collaboration. 

Do more outside of meetings; make the ones you do have more valuable.  
Switchboard saves your work, so you can share materials before the call and save meeting time for meaningful discussion. 
Sign up free

Frequently asked questions about project kickoff meeting agendas

What is an agile project kickoff meeting agenda? 

An Agile project kickoff meeting is a list of items to be covered in a project kickoff meeting. The aim is to align the team and stakeholders on the project's goals, scope, methodologies, and goals, among other factors, to ensure a smooth project.  

How do you facilitate a project kickoff meeting? 

To facilitate a project kickoff meeting, you should prepare an agenda, ensure all key stakeholders and team members are present, and communicate project goals, roles, and expectations. Leave space for open discussion and questions, and conclude with clear next steps and action items. 

What are the expectations of a project kickoff meeting? 

The expectations of a project kickoff meeting include achieving alignment among team members and stakeholders on the project's objectives, scope, timeline, and roles and responsibilities. You also want to establish communication channels and protocols, specify methodologies and tools, and identify potential risks and mitigation strategies. This sets the stage for effective collaboration and communication throughout the project lifecycle.

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Do more outside of meetings; make the ones you do have more valuable.

Switchboard saves your work, so you can share materials before the call and save meeting time for meaningful discussion.