Managing the Lab

How to Plan a Lab Kickoff Meeting

Kickoff meetings are essential for setting the tone of company and team goals, and ensuring each team member feels empowered to key results he/she is responsible for. . Typically, kickoff meetings are held on an annual basis to align all teams on the overarching and team-specific goals for the year ahead. In the lab setting, a yearly kickoff gives you an opportunity to plan out experiments and create backup plans if funding is delayed or you’re waiting on research approval. To ensure your kickoff meeting is an inspirational event that sparks creativity and enthusiasm for what lies ahead, follow these steps:

Consider the needs of each stakeholder who will be involved, from lab managers to procurement teams and everyone in between. A few weeks before your meeting, send out a call for agenda items to all teams and individuals to ensure that all voices and perspectives are acknowledged at the kickoff meeting.

Your kickoff meeting agenda should be more involved than a schedule of presentations. Take the time to create a detailed meeting agenda that includes the following sections so your meeting is as thorough as necessary and you don’t leave the kickoff meeting feeling like you missed something while you had everyone gathered. Your detailed lab kickoff meeting agenda should include:

Year in review

Towards the beginning of your kickoff meeting, conduct a presentation or appoint a presenter for your year in review presentation. This presentation should review any roadblocks or challenges that your lab faced in the previous year as well as highlight all substantial successes and high-achieving teams. The goal of the year in review presentation is to succinctly bring all kickoff meeting attendees up to speed while boosting team morale for the remainder of the meeting.

Goals for upcoming year

The goals addressed in your lab kickoff meeting should include any large-scope research project goals or experiments as well as individual team goals or experiments. During this presentation, your presenter should address how each team goal directly correlates with the company’s overall project goals and how your year looks in terms of milestones. It should also include:

  • An introduction of all teams and their respective responsibilities
  • The project scope
  • The budget and timeline of the lab project
  • All appropriate deliverables


Once the goals of the upcoming year have been successfully communicated, break the kickoff meeting into small groups for brainstorming sessions. Present each group with their own problem to solve and then give them space to work through their solution in a creative and innovative way. Then, come back together and share what all the groups have come up with before opening up each problem to a second round of brainstorming.

With the year’s goals fresh in their minds, these brainstorming sessions have the potential to be the most valuable resource generated by your lab kickoff meeting.

Experiment planning

The back half of your kickoff meeting should focus on actionable experiment planning. Have a presenter lay out how the efforts of each team will contribute to the lab’s overall goals, then break the meeting off into those teams to outline a clear plan for each team. These individual team outlines should include clear steps for the project as well as a realistic time frame for each step.

After your presenter has laid out the company-wide goals for the upcoming year, break off into teams to create specific goals for the year. If your team has trouble creating your own specific goals, answer these guiding questions to help get you started:

  • What makes your team special?
  • If your team faced any challenges last year, how are you better prepared this year to overcome any potential roadblocks?
  • What are the strengths of your team?
  • What pain points have you experienced in the past and how have you prepared yourselves to ameliorate these in the future?
  • How will your team goals directly lend themselves to the overall company goals?


The follow up meeting is a crucial component of your lab kickoff meeting. It is an opportunity for lab managers to see how well the goals of the kickoff meeting were communicated, as well as an opportunity to gather any feedback for future events. You can follow up through email, in small group meetings, or through a virtual meeting with team leaders— however you best feel you can elicit progress reports and feedback from your employees.

With this kickoff meeting plan, you are well positioned for a strong start to the quarter and year!

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