We often talk about the importance of preparation when it comes to successfully leading a meeting. That preparation takes a lot of forms - identifying key issues, advance communication with key stakeholders, setting contingencies if the meeting starts to head down rat holes.
All of this meeting prep comes together in a detailed agenda. Of course, "detailed" can have widely divergent meanings, depending on how detailed-oriented you tend to be. But in almost all cases, agendas can stand to be more detailed than the quick subject notes that tend to get sent out about 15 minutes before the meeting starts.
Our partners at Info~Tech Research Group have developed a specialized agenda for the project kick-off meetings, the most critical off all meetings for the success of your initiative. The Word-based template is available free to IT Business edge members here in the IT Downloads library.
The agenda template reflects an emphasis on highly structured planning, even though at the project kick-off phase there are not a lot of technical or fixed scheduling issued to be discussed. The main focus of kick-off meetings is team-building, discussions of responsibilities and basically getting everybody on board. Nonetheless, your agenda should be granular and encompass every issue you intend to cover, as you can see in the figure below.
Blocks of time are allocated to discussing the communication plan, roles and responsibilities, and issue resolution tactics. Each discussion area is assigned a discussion leader (most typically, the project manager) and an assumed length of discussion.
You might think that level of detail is a bit much for your purposes, and of course you may be right - this template was created for project managers, afterall. And it does not really lend itself to brainstorming sessions. But regardless of the type of meeting you are planning, you do need to lay out to attendees what you want to get accomplished and the time you think you need to spend to get there.
If you are on the verge of launching a project, be sure to also check out Info~Tech's Project Milestones Report Template, also available here in the IT Downloads library. This high-level report will keep all your team members up-to-speed on the project's progress without overwhelming non-technical staff with a ton of minutia.