There are a ton of reasons to host a company kick-off meeting, from planning for the year ahead to getting your sales team educated and excited about a new product, or gathering various departments to get a project underway.
Regardless of its purpose, one thing is for sure: your company kick-off meeting needs to be equal parts engaging, inspiring, and informative.
Getting this right takes some careful planning and attention to detail. But when you do, it will be well worth the effort.
Whether you’re a business leader looking to plan your own kick-off meeting or you’re an employee who’s been tasked with overseeing its execution, here are ten planning tips to make your meeting a success.
1. Define the meeting’s purpose
Before you get any kind of planning underway, defining your meeting’s purpose is foundational. When you clearly understand why you’re hosting the meeting in the first place, it makes the rest of the planning process a matter of filling in the gaps.
2. Collect the necessary information
Consider what you need to know in order to make your company kick-off meeting a success.
What information will you need to convey? What will you need to understand better in order to effectively communicate what you need to and ensure everyone walks away feeling equipped for success? Who will you need to speak with in order to do so effectively?
This might involve hosting a series of smaller meetings with all of your key stakeholders in advance to help you put the big picture together.
3. Outline your expectations
Once you’ve got all of the information at your disposal, you’ll want to clearly outline your expectations to anyone who might need to contribute to the meeting.
If you need certain team members or departments to come equipped with individual portions, let them know well in advance so that they have time to put everything together.
4. Schedule a date and time
In general, you’ll probably have a good idea about when you want your kick-off meeting to take place, but it’s wise to start thinking about the specifics well in advance.
As is the case with any big meeting, there are quite a few details to cover, boxes to check, and things to keep on top of, so giving yourself plenty of time to plan will be a big benefit to you.
5. Pick the right location
Think about where you’ll want to host your meeting. If you have your own office space, you can always host it there.
On the other hand, though, you could consider taking your meeting off-site. New environments can be inspiring and help get people excited. You may even want to host your meeting in a different city if it’s more conducive to where the bulk of your team is situated. In either case, booking a fully-equipped meeting room can be a great turnkey option.
Wherever you choose to host your team kick-off meeting, it’s smart to consider whether it’s:
- Accessible by public transit for anyone who’s commuting
- Equipped with on-site or nearby parking for people who are driving in
- Close to airports and hotels if you’ll have out-of-town guests flying in
The more convenient you can make your meeting to attend, the happier everyone will be to take part.
6. Meeting essentials
Depending on the type of meeting you’re planning, it’s worth giving some thought to whether you’ll need any additional technology, hardware, rentals, or catering.
This could include AV equipment, projectors, and seating.
7. Create an invitation list
Next up, start thinking about creating your invitation list. While this might seem straightforward, that’s not necessarily the case–especially if your organization has remote employees or operates in a hybrid model.
Consider who needs to be in attendance at the meeting, but also consider if anyone doesn’t. After all, there’s no sense in taking people away from their work by bringing them to a meeting they won’t benefit from attending.
You’ll also want to think about logistics when it comes to anyone who might work remotely from another town or city.
Will you need to coordinate travel and accommodation for them to attend the meeting? Is it worthwhile to do so? Or could you get by with having them attend via Zoom, Skype, or Teams?
8. Develop an agenda
Creating a structure for your meeting will help you make sure it stays on track. Your agenda should include things like:
- Introductions of all key stakeholders, as needed
- Discussion about why the meeting is being held
- An overview of the key points to be covered
- Any team building or employee engagement you’d like to conduct
- Speaking opportunities, if applicable
- Time for Q&A
If your team works remotely and hasn’t seen each other in a while, it’s also a good idea to allow time for everyone to catch up before the meeting gets underway. This will allow them to get reacquainted and then proceed to focus on the task at hand.
9. Know what you want to get out of it
Whether your goal is to provide a high-level overview of the year to come, establish roles and responsibilities for a project, or brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project, understanding what you want to get out of your meeting will ensure everyone’s time is spent purposefully and intentionally.
You should also make sure that you’re leaving everyone with any actionable takeaways. Each person and department should leave your meeting understanding exactly what they need to do, why, when, and how.
10. Create a follow-up plan
Don’t consider your kick-off meeting over when everybody leaves the room. Create a follow-up plan that allows you to check in with everyone who attended to make sure they’re clear and aligned on what needs to be done.
Company kick-off meetings are a great way to get people excited, make sure they’re on the same page, and set the tone for whatever you’re hoping to achieve. And bringing the right people together in the right place is the best way to ensure they’re a success.
Kane Willmott is the co-founder and CEO of , the largest independent Canadian-owned co-working operator with offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. iQ Offices provides beautiful office spaces with safety, service, privacy and design at the forefront.