Want to perfect your proposal? Start with a kick-off meeting

No matter your proposal size, scope, or budget amount, a kick-off meeting is designed to set the stage for the proposal team to pursue an opportunity. It brings together anybody and everybody involved in this one proposal to get on the same page. A successful meeting will result in participants who are empowered, enthusiastic, and focused, providing the necessary momentum to start work on a proposal.

The meeting should introduce the following concepts:
1. Why this opportunity?
2. Why now?
3. Why us?

Kick-off meetings should also present a draft outline of the proposed approach/response/solution and a timeline for getting everything done.

 But the first bit is the really important part: Proposal contributors generally want to know why they’re important; they want to know how much they have to contribute (a reasonable and fair amount of course!); and finally, they want to know when they need to be ready to respond to emails about deadlines. These unstated concerns should be covered as you work your way through the agenda.

The kickoff agenda should look something like this:

  • Introductions
  • Proposed approach (e.g., business case, technology involved, high-level project design)
  • Technical proposal outline (compliant draft document presented, includes page limits, font/formatting)
  • Challenges/Considerations (who is your competition, what gaps does the team have?)
  • Writing assignments (if you don’t have assignments now, you will have them soon)
  • Meeting schedule (be explicit regarding expectations for attendance)
  • Deliverables schedule (when do you want what) and mechanics (how do you want to get it)

Ideally, everyone shows up to these initial meetings in-person (please schedule an appropriately sized and located room), but every accommodation should be made for the meeting to be accessible using alternate formats (video connections via BlueJeans and a teleconference connection). Please make sure that you provide materials to those in attendance and those who are virtual (and distribute materials to non-attendees). Make sure that everyone can connect to the meeting at least 15 minutes prior to its start and always get a room that allows you to connect everyone easily and reliably.

Everyone (from principal investigators to staff members) involved in a kick-off meeting should feel confident in their role, their contribution, the structure of the effort, and the support provided them.

Questions about how to kick off a proposal?  Reach out to Meagan Ramsey, Manager of the Proposal Development Unit at MCIRCC!