Organize a kick-off meeting and transform your project

October 8, 2019 Izabella Juchowska

What benefits can a kick-off meeting bring to your company?

A kick-off meeting (a meeting that starts a new project) is not a magic solution that will make e-learning training the most desirable product of the century, with lines of excited learners waiting to give it a try. However, it can transform an emerging training into a solid course that responds to real problems and difficulties often faced by users.

Let’s start with a discussion…

The heart of a kick-off meeting is a discussion. You don’t need many resources to organize it — all you need is a phone, the presence of a client, a media educator, a project manager, and (often) a graphic designer — in other words, all the people directly involved in the project. This joint meeting allows you to look at the subject from many angles, as each participant focuses on their task and looks at the emerging training course from this perspective. Without any doubt, the advantage of a kick-off meeting is also the possibility to get to know each other. If you’re on the client’s side, it’ll become clear who’s responsible for a given task and to whom to address your comments so that they can be implemented as soon as possible. You’ll also feel that you are being looked after by a specific group of employees throughout the project.

But the first word of the meeting is spoken, there should be a positive attitude among the people gathered there! This is a mandatory ingredient of this mixture which, when properly prepared, will yield excellent results. Let’s feel like pioneers and sail the wooden frigate towards the undiscovered land…

Let’s talk about the goals and say “check”!

When there’s a positive vibe between the participants, it’s time to start talking.

The project team is characterized by the desire to learn as much as possible about the project and to understand its background, especially the reasons for its creation.

So, from the team’s side, there are questions such as: what is the purpose of the training? What problem does the training have to solve? Who is it aimed at (target group)? Often there are also questions about expectations related to interaction, graphic design, or ways of presenting information (e.g. in the form of knowledge in a nutshell). Don’t be surprised by the inquisitiveness — it will pay off at later stages of the emerging training course.

If the kick-off meeting takes place after the contract is signed, it’s important to verify the assumptions of the offer. Perhaps the vision of the media educator was great, but it didn’t necessarily fit in with the client’s requirements, or the scope of the applicable content has changed since then. This is a good opportunity to talk about expectations and abandon once and for all the dangerous “guessing” that always does more harm than good, and results in hundreds of comments in an already emerging scenario. Let’s say “check” to mutual expectations, and clearly define the principles of the project creation and cooperation.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

At the kick-off meeting, it’s also worth discussing the materials on which the training is to be based, as they’re the real crème de la crème of the emerging project. They’re usually prepared by an expert in a given field who often prepares these materials to the best of his knowledge, with real attention to detail (“let’s add another point about exceptions to the rule we just presented”). Often such a policy results in an elaborate PowerPoint presentation, which would be better for creating a description in an encyclopedia than a real training.

A critical approach to materials is specific to the media educator. They’ll ask which information is the most important, which can be seen as supplemental and placed in the form of popups, and which can be dropped completely. They’ll also ask about issues that they find incomprehensible or questionable. All these questions aim to create a course that’ll provide a solid dose of useful knowledge. The possibility of creating decision-making exercises that depict real-life situations and are used to practice behaviors is also important from the educator’s point of view. Hence, there will be questions about such materials and the possibility to contact a person who is able to help create such exercises. It’s good to establish this at the kick-off meeting.

What comes after the kick-off meeting?

At the end of the kick-off meeting it’s good to gather all the most important information and summarize the whole discussion so that no important element is missed.
In the event of disagreement, discuss the outcome of the arrangements again. The feeling that “we’ve got it!” will be the marker of a well-conducted meeting. We came, we talked, and now let’s do this! contact