I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments in meetings where everything went wrong. So here are my 5 ways how to not suck at a client meeting.
On of my first meetings was a disaster. It began with me forgetting that I even had a meeting at eight in the morning. This led me to arrive at the office when the customers were already waiting in the meeting room.
I then still had to printout the handouts for the meeting and setup the meeting room.
Make sure that you’re early enough at the scene, so you can printout any handouts before the meeting. Also it’s great to have a few minutes to calm down and check the meeting room.
It’s a good idea to add the meeting to your personal calendar with a reminder for the previous day, so you won’t forget it like I did.
This leads me to my next point.
As if being late wasn’t enough, the equipment in our meeting room wasn’t working. After trying for a few minutes to get the setup to work, I gave up and we moved to a smaller meeting room.
When you get to the meeting room, check if everything is working. Nothing is more cumbersome than to wait for the computer to start after the meeting has already begun. Just to realize that the equipment isn’t working as expected.
If you’re using a slideshow for a presentation you should start it up before the client arrives. You can black out the screen by using the “b” key on your keyboard, so the first slide isn’t visible. If you press “b” again the first slide will appear.
For everybody making slideshow I recommend reading “Presentation Zen”. It’s a great book on how to create beautiful and useful presentation slides.
In the new meeting room I was finally able to introduce myself. As soon as the clients told me their names I forgot them again.
So please, learn the clients names before your meeting. For me it helps to use a mnemonic like “Bruno the bear” for a person who is tall to remember the names.
It also helps to repeat the name as soon as the other person introduces them self. You should also use the name throughout the conversation.
For the first few meetings I had I was afraid to speak my mind.
I thought that the client wouldn’t like me if I did.
Your client wants to hire you because your company has knowledge and skills that they don’t have. So speak your mind, but prepare yourself to defend your stance with valid arguments.
With my first clients I rambled about technical details which the client didn’t need to know.
In most cases the client comes from a different sector than you. So it’s essential that you talk to him with words that you both can understand.
Try to find out what needs and requirements the client has for this project. With these informations you should be able to answer the technical questions yourself.
After all that’s what your client hired you for.
Don’t forget to document the requirements so you can reference them later. It’s also important to find out in which direction the project could evolve later. Because this could influence the selection of technology.