Kickoff Roundup

The Kickoff: What Works

Sales kickoffs, team kickoffs, all-hands meetings… the biggest internal-facing appearances and meetings are major opportunities to train up your team, get everyone on the same page and set the vision for the year. And tons of them happen in January.

So, it’s finally – in February – time for all of the operations, enablement, and event team members finally to breathe a sigh of relief (and take their well deserved holiday vacations).

We previously shared 5 Tips for a Successful Sales Kickoff, which is a great place to begin.

After a recent whirl of kickoffs, punctuated by our own Decker team kickoff last week, here’s a quick 3×3 rundown of what works, and what doesn’t.

What Works:

  • Play to people’s strengths. When it comes to highlighting your key speakers and leaders, consider new presentation formats. Who is great at commanding a keynote? Who might be better in moderated conversation? On a panel? Pre-recorded on video? Is there another format for relaying the same information? Try to keep your audience on their toes.
  • Create space to build relationships. The kickoff is likely your one (and only) chance to bring your entire team together. One of the biggest benefits is to allow those relationships to happen. If it was just about getting everyone to hear the same message, there are plenty of ways to do that via your favorite webcast technology. You spent a whole lot of money flying them in for this event, so make it count. While tempting to pack in another session over lunch, try adding a “no agenda” part to your agenda. They’ll catch up, share war stories and best practices, and have a network of people who they can call on to help them hit their goals.
  • Manage your agenda. Most large events never provide a detailed agenda, so participants just hold on for the ride. Totally fine and expected, especially since there are so many last minute shifts and changes to the schedule. The only problem is that without a great emcee (which we highly recommend), people don’t know what’s coming up next unless you manage the cadence of the event. For example, tell them the most important thing they need to know – when they’ll get a break! Be sure that you are clear about when/where you need people, and for how long. Also, add more breaks than you think people need. They’re gonna be drinking a lot of coffee…

What Doesn’t Work:

  • Keeping butts in seats all day. Don’t forget to schedule some physical activity to get the blood flowing! Nobody wants to sit all day. And depending on the weather outside – giving them a chance to get some sunshine is a major bonus!
  • At all costs, avoid repetition! A nod to the theme is one thing, but rehashing it thousands of times is not. While good ideas are worth repeating, be careful not to overdo it. It can backfire. What’s the best way to filter this? Do a dress rehearsal with all the key stakeholders.
  • Packing in too much – for too long! Shorten the length of presentations so that presenters have to ruthlessly prioritize their messages. Then punctuate those talks with enough breaks to let the content sink in.

Have you been to a kickoff this year? What else would you add?

The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2014

There is no such thing as private speaking, and Decker Communications’ 19th Annual Top Ten Best and Worst Communicators list proves it. These famous examples from business, politics, sports and pop culture have left indelible impressions this year – both for better and for worse. Top 10 Best Communicators Breaking … Continue reading

How to Avoid Brain Freeze When Speaking

It’s happened to all of us at least once. You’re prepared, and you’re nervous. And all of a sudden, your mind goes blank. Brain Freeze. We recently got a question from a participant that we wanted to answer to a wider forum. Q:  I’m wondering if Decker has any official … Continue reading

Authenticity Trumps All

I haven’t done any empirical research on this, but I’d venture a guess that Chief Information Officers might be the most sold people around. From the dollars going into data centers to security to big data, itself, and don’t forget about the cloud, they – for the most part – … Continue reading

Where It All Begins: Your Listeners

You can’t pass go, you can’t collect $200 (let alone $20,000 or $200,000 for your next initiative) if you haven’t gone through the first step: That’s right. Rephrase your agenda to meet theirs, instead. Since our goal is to influence others and to persuade them to take action, we can’t … Continue reading

Avoid Conference Call Hell

Kudos to Tripp and Tyler and the folks at Leadercast for humanizing the Conference Call in Real Life. Even if you have already seen this video, it’s worth watching again because it will make you laugh: With just a few adjustments, you can make your next conference call more efficient. … Continue reading

Crisis Communication: Power of Your Voice

While I was driving to work, I was listening to the morning news on the radio. During a report about the latest Ebola outbreak, I was shocked to hear a voice of calm – it was a doctor and scientist with great bedside manner. Check out the audio from this … Continue reading

Coordinating Schedules? You Can Do Better.

Ever have the experience where you get an email asking if you and another colleague are willing to talk, huddle, brainstorm or follow up on a new initiative? Contrast these two examples: “Can you meet for 30 minutes on Thursday between 9-11am to discuss the new initiative? If not, give … Continue reading

Upspeak: Destroyer of Credibility

Invisible question marks – ending sentences on a higher pitch is a plague that has seeped from middle school girls into our business communications. Maybe even to yours. Taylor Mali’s Def Poetry Jam explains: I’ve witnessed upspeak at the highest levels of Fortune 100 companies, and I’ve heard it used … Continue reading