A project kickoff meeting is not just for officially starting up project team activities with a formal get-together. The most useful kickoff meetings are designed specifically to orient a new project team to the business reasons for the project, and jumpstart the team's work with a common understanding of goals and initial steps. Such a meeting can run anywhere from
two hours to a full day depending on the size of the project and how much group time you want to spend on project discussions and related deliverables.
First, the meeting provides time for the group to cover the business rationale for the project and create or review a Project Charter or vision document together. Then the group discusses other key project areas such as scope (including requirements and implementation alternatives), risks, costs, likely resources requirements, and desired schedule.
All these items are covered as a first pass. Obviously, the team won't settle all these details in a first meeting! The idea is that the team captures a first rough cut at the information to get everyone level set on what this project is. The discussions result in drafts of early project deliverables: draft team roles and responsibilities lists, budgets, risk lists, project timeline, and an initial action item list. The team is thus "kick started" into their work together, with a good understanding of the project's goals and potential scope and enough information to walk out and get to work on what matters most.
See our Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda for more on how to run such a meeting.