Kick off meetings should be exciting and inspiring, not dull and boring. This is your chance to get everyone together in one room to bounce around ideas, get valuable feedback, and really set the tone for the rest of the year.
Aside from bringing the team together and getting enthusiastic about what’s to come, kick-off meetings allow you to gain perspective for the new year by reflecting on the previous year. You can celebrate successes, but also admit important failures and use them as learning points moving forward. These meetings also provide a chance for valuable team planning, training initiatives, and team building.
While you may want to treat these meetings like any other meeting, it’s important to give them the extra attention they deserve. You’re presenting and planning your entire year! It’s crucial to build the proper momentum with your team and you have about one hour to do so. If you’re stumped, we have some tips that will add some zest to your kick-off meeting last minute.
Consider not calling it a “kick-off meeting.” When you call it a “kick-off,” it implies a lot of the decisions have already been made without any input, and it could make some members on your team feel excluded. Also, “kick-off meeting” sounds stuffy, cliche and boring, doesn’t it? A more positive approach would be to name the meeting something that implies there’s still work to be done (which is true!).
Why not call your kick-off meeting ‘The Road Ahead 2016’, or ‘2016: Preparing for Growth’? You can still create slides ahead of time with information that’s already been decided for the new year, but giving it a fun name implies that there is room for ideas, changes, and input – which there should be. If team members feel like they’re going to be able to have an impact at the meeting, they’re more likely to actively listen and take part, rather than sit back and sip their coffee.
Everyone is going to roll into the meeting expecting to have to sit still for an hour or so and listen to the presenter. Chances are, most people are already checked out mentally before the meeting has begun. So switch it up! Start off your meeting by asking everyone to jot down some ideas for an upcoming conference or event.
Crowdsourcing feedback and ideas is simplified by event technology like a conference app with audience response systems. Allowing attendees to enter their questions or comments using the Ask-A-Question feature will give them the opportunity to vote up their favorite responses.
Alternatively you could open a survey or live poll and pose questions like: “What sessions do they think need to be included? What icebreakers worked really well? What presenters do they want to see again? Which type of food do they want to see at the next event?” While you may have already thought out your next event, you should keep the floor open to new innovative ideas that you may have missed. You can quickly set up live polling and have attendees vote on things within the event app, gathering data and results in real-time for an immediate impact, or download them later to crunch the numbers.
Consider a fun approach like a trivia game. At EventMobi, we use our company event app for office games to introduce some friendly competition. With gamification built into the event app, we set up a trivia game where the passcodes are the correct answers to questions about the company. If the objective is to review last year, create questions that go over details of last year’s events, such as “Which venue had the best coffee?” While this may feel like a game to your team, when you go over the answers, you’ll be surprised at the quality of the feedback. You’re getting valuable input from the team in quick and fun way!
While your kickoff meeting is likely already planned for 2016, it’s not too late to reach out to some contacts (and even clients) to come in and deliver a brief introduction or 15-minute inspirational talk. If you have a trustworthy client, perhaps they’d be interested in coming in to chat about a positive experience with your team they had in the past year. Within the event app, you can tease a surprise speaker by naming the session “Secret Speaker” and uploading a speaker profile with hints in the display picture and biography.
It doesn’t have to be complex, just something to shake things up and get your team to sit up straight and feel motivated to listen. You could even consider having someone make an appearance via Skype for a quick surprise.
Gamification is also a great way to promote networking and team building. Make time in the middle of the meeting to get people up and out of their seats talking to one another. We saw one client create a “Meet the Founder” challenge as part of their event game where staff had to find the Founder, say hi, and he would give them his passcode. If you’re unfamiliar with using gamification at events, download our eBook here.
This is a great way to encourage junior staff to meet more senior employees. You can have questions such as “Find a colleague who has been around longer than five years” or “Who has been a part of the marketing team longest?” This is also a really great way for team members to meet a mentor for the 2016 year and a really great icebreaker overall.
Company wide meetings don’t have to be a one way street where a speaker stands at the front to relay a bunch of important information. Rather, they can be an exciting and inspiring time for the whole team to get together, meet one another, and feel ready to really take on the new year. Don’t overlook the small details and don’t be afraid to take some small risks with your kick-off meeting.
Mark gets excited about creating original content and learning resources for both the technology and events industry. Having attended Incentive Works 2015 and IMEX 2015, Mark is acquiring a unique perspective on events that he's eager to incorporate in the research and writing he does on a daily basis.
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