Perfecting the Kickoff Meeting is Product Management

Katie Guernsey, Product Manager at STRV, shares how to influence key stakeholders with a compelling presentation and align product teams to execute on a vision.

When you read about a product launch, you usually hear about the glitzy aspects, such as the innovative technology, sleek design and happy users. But what goes on behind the scenes is often not as glamorous. If a product manager wants her idea to see the light of day, she must get everyone from designers to Senior Executives at her company on board with her vision.

The kickoff meeting is one of the most crucial moments for presenting a business opportunity and ensuring a successful product launch.

Katie showed up for this interview chock full of great ideas on how to run a kick off meeting that gets stakeholders across the organization to buy-in to your pitch.  

“The meeting has to be inspirational. You’re telling the story as to why this project is important and you better be just as enthusiastic to convince your stakeholders.”

The aspect of Katie’s approach that I most appreciate is how much of the heavy lifting she does before the meeting even starts.

“The number one priority for a product manager before going into that kickoff meeting is aligning your stakeholders.”

And Katie doesn’t stop after the kick off meeting is over. She runs “mini” kick off meetings with engineering and product teams to ensure everything is executed to plan.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about persuasive communication, handling challenging conversations, and ensuring execution across teams. Here are the highlights:

  • How a poorly executed kickoff meeting can derail a product launch (5:50)
  • How to align stakeholders and achieve the desired outcomes in a kickoff meeting (9:45)
  • What Katie does before the meeting to ensure it runs smoothly (15:00)
  • How Katie deals with push back and difficult questions (20:10)
  • Katie’s best advice for delivering a great presentation (23:30)
  • Katie’s strategy for ensuring execution after the meeting (26:00)

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud below.