By Darryl Sink, EdD, Darryl L. Sink & Associates

How many times have you said we must get this project started off on the right foot this time?

Starting off an instructional development project is no exception. Most of our instructional development projects today are more complicated than in the past. The use of different media, varied technologies, and an increasing need to have input from many sources make kick-off meetings not only a good thing to do, but also an essential element in having a successful project. Today getting together face-to-face is often difficult. But virtual or (hopefully) face-to-face you can have a very successful team kick-off meeting with some planning ahead of time.

Here is a 5-step procedure we follow to get our projects off to a great start and jump-start the development effort.

Procedure for Setting Up and Running a Kick-Off Meeting

  1. Decide on the desired outcomes for the kick-off meeting.
  2. Develop an agenda using the desired outcomes.
  3. Plan and prepare for the kick-off meeting.
  4. Conduct the kick-off meeting.
  5. Follow up on the kick-off meeting.

In this tip I would like to emphasize the first step: Decide on the desired outcomes for a kick-off meeting.

Below is a list we use as a generic list of possible outcomes for a kick-off meeting. This list was originally created for a very large project involving 6 DSA designers and 20 content experts. You can use this to make a checklist of specific desired outcomes for a project of your own. Feel free to add, change, and delete items as needed.

Desired Outcomes for the Kick-Off Meeting Checklist
(Step 1 from above)

Every team player shares the same knowledge about the business need driving this project.

Each team member will realize the significance of the project to the business goals of the company and understand the value of their commitment to the success to the project.

Each team player is clear about his or her responsibility related to the development training program.

Each team player knows the modules they will be responsible for and with whom they will be working to develop their training modules. This one is especially important on very large projects.

Each team member will know how his or her part fits into the whole.

A common vision of deliverables will have been defined, resulting in shared quantity and quality standards and formats.

There will be a common understanding of controls that will be used to monitor the project to keep it on schedule and to maintain quality standards.

Each team member will be knowledgeable about what has been done to specify the training and what needs to be done to develop the training at a specific enough level to allow him or her to take action immediately.

Communications channels and procedures will have been established, expediting productivity.

Project team members will have scheduled their meeting dates with each other. Developers, content experts and reviewers will have agreed upon specific meeting times to meet their schedules.

Shared expectations will be established in terms of schedule and time commitments.

The project will be jump-started allowing the team to accomplish a very ambitious development project with a very challenging timeline.

Coming up with your specific checklist of desired outcomes will be the input for the other four steps of the process above:

  • Decide on the desired outcomes for the kick-off meeting.
  • Develop an agenda using the desired outcomes.
  • Plan and prepare for the kick-off meeting.
  • Conduct the kick-off meeting.
  • Follow up on the kick-off meeting.

If you would like procedures on these other four steps please send an email to with “Kick-Off Meeting” in the subject line and I will be happy to send them right over to you.

About the Author
Darryl Sink HeadshotDarryl Sink, EdD, has maintained a standard of excellence as a human performance improvement consultant, specializing in training development solutions throughout his history as president of Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc. He is a contributing author to two editions of the ISPI Handbook of Human Performance Technology and ASTD’s Handbook For Workplace Learning Professionals. He is also the recipient of ISPI’s Professional Service Award for his service to the organization.