The most important ingredients of a successful kickoff event
In this blog post, I will provide you with some tips to ensure that the first event, which represents the emotional start to the fiscal year, is successful.
What is a kickoff event?
The kickoff event at the beginning of a year represents the start of a new business year for every company. During the kickoff event, not only are new goals and projects presented, but important communications between project participants, employees and new business partners are also established.
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1. What is the goal of your kickoff event?
In most cases, the annual kickoff meeting is intended to orientate employees towards a new goal. At this event, strategy changes or a specific focus for the company’s upcoming chapter (often one year) are often communicated.
The desired result of the kickoff event should be derived from your annual goal. An important tip: ask yourself with what feeling the participants should go home. Give the kickoff event a meaningful name, a motto that reflects the goal of the event and runs like a leitmotif through the entire day.
2. Who do you want to address?
Just as important as the question regarding the goal you want to achieve is the question of who you want to address with your event. Companies can organize kickoff days for their entire workforce, just the management or only the people involved in an important project.
These events are also ideal for team-building activities. After all, where better to get to know your colleagues than casually working in a group, fighting side by side for victory? So think about how your employees work and how you can best prepare them for an upcoming project or for the new year.
3. Choose a suitable location for your event
To open the year with a real bang, you have to find the right location; one that fits your kickoff motto. Check out the locations where other companies have held their events in the past and which new locations are available. Which locations are trendy and what possibilities do they create for your kickoff?
Other questions may be:
- Does this location offer the possibility for further meetings and the rooms that are required to hold them in?
- Are the location’s employees used to events like this, so that they can take over important tasks from you?
- Is the technical equipment on site or do you need to purchase or rent additional equipment?
Let your thoughts also include whether it makes sense to design your meeting for the new fiscal year so that it is a virtual event for those participating.
4. Content of the kickoff
Here I have summarized some questions and possibilities that you should consider when planning your kickoff event with the members of your team.
Create a sense of urgency
Take your employees on an emotional journey right at the start – this is the best way to get them all on board. If you don’t manage to captivate all participants from the beginning and prepare them for what’s coming, your event will sink like a rock or (even worse) your team will not recognize the urgency and the participants will lose motivation.
Make your event a visual and acoustic highlight
Many think too much about the content when planning an event. The fact is that everything we perceive with our sensory organs creates atmosphere, especially through our eyes and ears. Ask yourself what your team should see and what your project participants should hear.
How can you create emotionally charged images in your presentation and at your location that create direct emotions? How can you design music and sound-systems in a way that makes them enjoyable for everyone? This way your kickoff will definitely be a success! It’s always about the feeling your team members leave with at the end.
The presentation of facts and figures
Figures, data and facts should never be missing from any kickoff meeting and are a good way to strengthen your individual goals in front of your team. It is essential that this information is relevant to your projects, and ideally it should be emotionally embedded in your kickoff with stories.
Invite external speakers
Keynote speakers have numerous keynotes in their repertoire, which are specifically designed for teambuilding and commitment. Here it is important to get a speaker who understands your goals and already has experience to bring your team together. My lecture on the stadium principle is particularly suitable for this purpose: teambuilding, motivation and fun come at their full cost.
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Promote teambuilding through group work
What is better for promoting effective cooperation amongst those within individual working-groups than getting them to work together? For example, let a group answer the question “How can I implement the new goals in my department?” and then present it to another team as a group presentation. This not only promotes group understanding, but also increases motivation.
Your social program should arouse emotions
The supporting program should also be perfectly coordinated with the motto of your kickoff event. That way you can get your team going and your event will be remembered. Popular bands are always a highlight.
To make sure that the setting for your event remains the ideal one, it is very important to use an ideal presenter who leads the attendees through your event elegantly and with verve. This should by no means be left to chance… or to the brother-in-law of the financial controller, who “loves to talk”.
Use the kickoff to provide motivation for the new business-year
Have a video made of the event that radiates freshness and renewal. The values for your next project or the photos of your event will help you to remember the event in a positive light for a long time.
5. Holding colossal kick offs
In 2016, I had the privilege of hosting Coca-Cola’s annual kick off event, at which around 400 sales managers were getting in the mood for the new year. Coca-Cola wouldn’t have been so successful if the company hadn’t created this super cool event. I was particularly impressed by the team-building activities in the form of a joint project, which I was allowed to accompany as the presenter.
The participants were divided into several teams and built an entire stadium. The team for one project rehearsed fan chants, while another team rolled out a complete soccer lawn. The team members worked together on their tasks in order to strengthen the mutual cooperation.
At the end, eleven people took part in a penalty shoot-out. Helge Payer, former Austrian national goalkeeper, was also present. In the evening, there was a celebration that lasted all night.
Casinos Austria’s 2016 kick off meeting at the Grand Casino Baden was one of my favorite events. The popular team-manager of the Austrian national team Marcel Koller was invited as a guest to this event. In 2015 Marcel Koller received an award for outstanding achievements as Coach of the Year in Austria and Switzerland.
At the management kickoff in front of a small group of 30 managers of the Casinos Austria Group, I had an exciting conversation with Marcel about leadership, motivation, team building and pressure to perform.
From this example, you can see how extremely important it is to get external speakers and keynote speakers into the program at kick offs. The mix of management topics and professional sport offered completely new perspectives for the managers present.
Is a kickoff event also something for you?
In summary, kickoff events can create a dynamic that will be remembered for a long time. It is simply a popular method for starting a project off with a bang.
When should a kickoff meeting take place?
As soon as you start a more complex project, a kickoff meeting offers you the opportunity to answer important questions right from the start, which can save you many meetings later on. There is usually no shortage of unusual ideas for events.
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Together for success
However, it is important that your event reflects your company philosophy and orientates your team towards success.
Here teams can reinvent themselves, come together and stay together
Last but not least, it should also be fun and the food should be good. And when a popular band spices up the evening program, nothing can go wrong.
With my ten plus years of experience as a presenter and keynote speaker, I would be happy to help you as your partner in event-planning. What questions do you have for your next kick off event? What are the coolest kickoff events you have ever experienced? Please leave your answer in the comments!
What questions do you have for your next kick-off event? What are the coolest kick-off events you have ever experienced?