The energy of kickoffs is wonderfully intense. It’s a show that requires scripts, rehearsal, creative energy, staging, lights, cameras, and action, whether live or virtual.

A successful kickoff inspires and aligns everyone in the organization around the mission and vision and clearly translates into individual and team goals for the coming year. Done well – with compelling speakers, content, notable guests and fun activities – kickoffs can set the tone and the focus for months to come

We share three tips we’ve learned over the past few Januarys.

Start Earlier than You Think. One of the hardest things for speakers preparing for kickoff is to extricate themselves from the day-to-day tasks so they have the time and space to think bigger. The role of a kickoff speaker is to provide inspiration and motivation so that everyone leaves energized to change/grow/learn. That’s a tall order.

Starting early (December, anyone?) allows you to develop compelling content in the most scientific way:  throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. This may be one of the most valuable aspects of working with us. We hear the gold within the junk and mirror it back to you. This process gets you to your big idea, your tent pole message. It’s exciting and when you hit upon it, the rest flows from there.  Now you want to carve out more time because you are so inspired by what just happened. Otherwise, your kickoff presentation is stuff you said in last week’s meeting delivered to a larger crowd.

For the Love of God, Not Another Zoom Meeting. The problem with two years of virtual meetings is that anytime we start or join a Zoom room, we think it’s another day at the office. Speakers must elevate their content and delivery. It’s the Annual Kickoff: your audience expects and deserves more from you. We know it’s hard, especially since you aren’t on a literal stage in full work attire (rather than just the top half). You gotta bring it: energy, clarity, and confidence. “Ho hum” just doesn’t cut it.

Connect, Engage, Activate. Our attention spans had rapidly deteriorated before the pandemic. At this juncture, if you blink you miss it. Yes, the polling and chat functions are a bit tired, but they serve an important role in keeping your audience from picking up their phone. One of our clients began her presentation with a series of polls to take the pulse of the group before leading them through the goals and objectives for 2022.  We loved this for so many reasons. One, it reflected her respect for her team’s input. Two, she turned the standard “let me talk for 45 minutes and then take questions” on its end. Finally, it meant that when they did discuss the why and how of 2022, she and her co-presenters could integrate what they learned from the poll results. They had to listen and connect. This process engaged people who hadn’t spoken a word.

Powerful Messages Have Staying Power. Preparing any high-level presentation takes time and effort. One of the artifacts of this hard work is that you identify and streamline central ideas, carryout messages, and action steps. These are the very concepts you should be repeating and refining for the next six months. It will guide your leadership communication in 2022.

That’s why we love Kickoffs! Well Done.