You Ask, I Answer: Preparing for Client Meetings?

Amber asks, “How do you prepare for client meetings/calls when presenting deliverables? I tend to write down everything that I want to say as my thoughts get murky and I tend to stumble over my words. Is that juvenile? What is the best way to prepare?”

A few steps make this easier over time. First, if you didn’t do the work yourself, that makes things substantially harder. Second, if you were disconnected from the work, that makes things nearly impossible. If you did the work, if you remember what you did, then you’re at a good starting place. Consider journaling while you’re doing the work, as questions and key insights pop up. Do what works for your learning and teaching style – everyone will be different. And learn the breath trick. Watch the video for more details.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Amber asks, How do you prepare for client meetings or calls when presenting deliverables? I tend to write everything down that I want to say, as my thoughts get murky, and I tend to stumble over my words, is that juvenile? What’s the best way to prepare? There is no best way to prepare that is standard across people, right? It’s based on your learning style on your presenting style, and what works best for you.

Now, a few things are going to make this easier over time.

First, if you didn’t do the work yourself, that makes things harder, because you don’t necessarily know what exactly happened as the deliverables being produced.

This is especially true with data, anything data related, you’ve got at least know the methodology that was used the techniques used to get the deliverable.

Second, if you were disconnected from the work, that makes things almost impossible.

Back in the old days, when I worked in the agency world, I would watch executives sometimes really badly stumble over stuff, because they were three or four, even five levels, steps removed in the work, you know, there’s the the executive, and then there was their director.

And then there was their senior manager, there’s a manager and there was Senior Specialist, and that was a specialist in the specialist one doing all the work.

And they would show up at these meetings and, you know, throw the deliverable on the table and be like, hey, here we are, and and the client would ask questions, and the executive could not answer them because they were so far removed from the work.

So if you are doing the work great, if you are managing the work, make sure that you know what is being done.

So that you have insight into the into how it was built, how it was done, whatever the deliverable is.

That way, when the client asks questions, you’ll have good answers.

Whether you’re doing or managing the work, consider journaling while you’re doing the work, taking notes as as questions and key insights pop up, because that will give you really good starting points of talking points when it comes time to present.

One of the things to think about is, and this is where that higher education stuff comes in handy.

What, what worked for you back in college or university, when it was time to prepare for an exam? Right? Are you the kind of person this comes? This is a lot of self awareness and knowing yourself, are you the kind of person who can cram for an exam the night before and do well on it? Or are you the kind of person that needs to be very methodical and take notes and build structures throughout the course and you can’t cram for an exam, know that about yourself, there’s no right or wrong about it.

But it’s knowing that about yourself and the kind of person you are and what you’re learning and teaching approach and needs to be in order for you to succeed.

I have seen many people try and figure that out for themselves.

So whatever, whatever works for you.

So some people, for example, when they’re taking notes, they need a digital app, other people like to do voice recordings, some people like to doodle and sketch, you know, whatever.

If your employer is not mandating a certain methodology, then do what works best for you.

That’s it, I would also experiment around a little because your learning style does change as you get older.

Things that worked for you, in your early days will not work for you as well, in the middle of your career and at the sort of the peak of your career.

Those things may indeed change again.

When you’re putting together deliver the deliverable, one of the key things that not enough people do is looking at it from the client perspective, right, the clients going to ask a whole bunch of questions about this deliverable there going to ask what happened, right? This is especially true with reporting, what happened? Why? So what? What are we going to do about it? Those are the key questions that the clients going to ask you.

As you’re assembling the deliverable.

Mentally ask yourself these questions from the client perspective.

Here’s a slide about this.

So what here’s a campaign results.

Okay, why did that happen? Well, why that happened? But why did that happen? And asking these kinds of questions and and noting down however you take notes, noting down your mental answers that help you prepare to deliver to the client, these are the things that have happened.

That way, they feel like you were on top of the work itself, you know, what was going on, you know why those things happened? You were prepared.

A lot of people do that wrong.

A lot of people in the agency world haven’t tend to do that, you know, backup a truck for that deliverable on table, here it is.

And then the clients like this, this isn’t helpful, right? This is this is a bunch of stuff on my desk, and that that’s the last thing in the world I want.

So be able to put yourself in the clients shoes, and ask those tough questions, those uncomfortable questions.

And if you are managing the work, and maybe you know, again, agency life, there’s a lot of conflicting priorities.

Maybe you weren’t as closely connected, be ready with answers if they if the deliverable is probably not going to meet the client satisfaction is your firm prepared to compensate the clients some way.

And I would suggest this is a very good test for your employer.

If you did the work, according specification, the clients not happy.

Who gets the blame, right? If the agency or the firm’s or the culture is such that you poop rolls downhill, and the person lowest on the totem pole gets, gets the blame, I’d be time to change firms, because what’s supposed to happen in good leadership is that the person at the top of the totem pole is the one who accepts the responsibility for for the problem.

So that’s a fun way to know what kind of culture and finally when it comes to the presentation itself.

If you know, if you’ve done the prep work, and you know what happened, you know why, you know, what the clients likely to care about.

And you know what the next steps are? rehearse, just like public speaking, rehearse, have you and have a friend or colleague, rehearse the presentation, one of you be the client, one of you be the presenter and vice versa.

And ask those tough questions.

Put yourself in those uncomfortable situations so that you are ready and you’ve had the time for us.

And it may not be something you can do during work hours.

So hopefully you have a colleague at the office who is amenable to like a video call after hours.

If you both care about it enough to want to do well at rehearsal.

It’s just like public speaking.

So do your rehearsals.

Make sure that you feel comfortable or more comfortable with with those deliverables? Oh, the one last thing I would suggest is if you are stumbling over your words.

Look in your speech patterns for arms and ahhs and ahhs and speech fillers and replace them with the breath.

Because two things happen.

One, it helps you settle more.

And to you actually sound much, much smarter.

So here’s an example.

Doing this presentation, and this is thing, right? As opposed to we’re doing this presentation, and there’s this thing, it slows you down, but it changes how your words are received as well.

So learn that little trick.

It’s a fun public speaking trick that has multiple benefits.

So great question important questions a lot to unpack in doing client presentations is a form of public speaking.

And like all public speaking, know your material and practice your material a lot.

If you have follow up questions, please leave them in the comments box below.

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