Whether it’s your first client meeting ever or you’ve been having them for years, preparing for one is often stressful. Taking the time to properly prepare, though, helps ensure that you are getting the most out of the time you are spending with your client either in person or on the phone. Planning ahead can also ease some of your stress and anxiety and result in a more productive meeting.
Here are a few useful tips to help you prepare for your next client meeting.
Establish the Purpose for the Meeting and Create an Agenda
Whether you are meeting in person or talking on the phone, it is important to establish a purpose. If you do not go into a meeting with a purpose in mind, you will likely waste time talking about random things and end up accomplishing nothing. Every meeting and call needs to have a purpose as well as a clear objective.
With the purpose of your meeting in mind, create an agenda. Even if the agenda includes just a few simple steps like mentioning a certain project and determining how to move forward, you should have a clear plan in mind before the meeting starts. Be sure to share both the purpose of the meeting and the agenda with the client and anyone else who will be in attendance prior to the meeting. This helps ensure that everyone is prepared and knows what to expect.
Print out copies of the agenda using your office printer. It only takes a little bit of ink or toner, and it is a simple step that helps ensure that everyone stays on track during the meeting. You may want to use some printer ink to print out name tags, too, if everyone involved in the meeting doesn’t already know who’s who.
Put Yourself in Your Client’s Shoes
There are several reasons why you may need to have a meeting with a client. You may be trying to convince them to hire you or upgrade your contract, or you may be meeting with them to let them know the status of a current project. You could even be having a meeting to discuss potential problems. Regardless of why you are having the meeting, take some time to put yourself in your client’s shoes.
By looking at the situation from your client’s perspective, you can gain a better understanding of how they may react and what they may be expecting from you. It is easy to get so wrapped up in your own personal goals for the meeting that you forget about your client’s wants and needs. Remembering to put yourself in your client’s shoes helps ensure that the meeting is productive on both sides.
While many offices have ditched stuffy dress codes in favor of more relaxed attire, it is still important to dress appropriately for client meetings. As someone who provides a professional service, you should look the part. You don’t necessarily need to wear a ball gown or a full suit and tie, but you should be wearing, at the very least, a nice top and dressy pants or a skirt. Strive for “business casual” or better. When in doubt, take a look at how the higher-ups in your company typically dress for meetings and emulate their style.
Dressing nicely helps boost your confidence, too, so even if you are having a phone meeting, it never hurts to put on something a bit more professional-looking than your old jeans and a t-shirt.
Plan to Arrive Early
In the business world, punctuality is extremely important. Being on time shows that you respect your client’s time and that you are dedicated to your work. If you are preparing for an in-person meeting, planning to show up early gives you a bit of wiggle room in case you get stuck in traffic or get slowed down by inclement weather. It also shows your client that you are eager to get started, and it helps to minimize your stress.
If you are conducting a meeting over the phone or video conference, it is still a good idea to be a bit early. You can use the extra time to go over the agenda and get yourself calm and collected before anyone else joins the conversation.
With proper planning, your next client meeting can go off without a hitch. Just make sure to show up on time, dress nicely, and take steps to ensure that everyone is on the same page by creating an agenda.