This is not as lamentable as losing the radio star, but a mournful situation, nonetheless. If you’ve been part of a memorable client kick-off meeting, then you likely remember it was more about the conversation and the getting-to-know-you experience, than the bulleted meeting agenda.
We’re not speaking disparagingly of agendas, briefs, or being organized for a kick-off. On the contrary, we’ve found the process of preparing for this pivotal mash-up of clients and creatives more or less ensures the required boxes will get checked, and more than the necessary information will get delivered. What we’re talking about goes beyond necessity. The best work comes from the best preparation, from an environment that encourages exploration and curiosity. We’ve discovered that the best inspiration comes from details that are embedded in client stories and dialogue that never come out in a brief, or an agenda that’s just meant to keep everyone on track, and on time. Sometimes process really does kill process.
We believe in using the kick-off meeting as a sort of radio interview. We prep—and help our clients prep by sharing questions ahead of time. We record them, so we can focus on the conversation. Maybe this makes us feel more like radio stars. (if we’re being honest, it’s true—radio interviews may have been a past career for some of us. That and super-cheesy commercial voice-overs, but that’s for another blog post.) Anyway, we believe in asking questions that get past what everyone already knows, what everyone already thinks they know, so everyone can actually learn something. Clients included.
The key to a kick-ass kick-off meeting is to remember the agenda is just a guide. Get curious, get inquisitive, be wrong. When you let go of having to be “the expert”, you master the information that refines your expertise and informs your experience. For us, there is no secret sauce, other than being able to read a room, and steer a conversation. Historically, we’ve found that if everyone is having fun, than you’re having a great kick-off meeting. You get an A if everyone leaves the room more excited than when they arrived. You get an A+ if they take your agenda.