Learning how to drive a client meeting is a very important skill. Here are a few tips for making sure everything goes smoothly.
1. Always have a plan
If you are leading a meeting it’s always a good idea to go into it with an agenda. Typically the client will be expecting you to take the lead and present what you have been working on, so having a laid out plan can help guide the meeting.
Sometimes a discussion can get off track, and you can leave the meeting with less clarity than when it started, so it’s important to utilize the time you have to cover what you had planned⏳. Try to redirect the meeting to make sure you stay on track with the agenda to prevent the scope of the work from shifting. Continue pushing the project towards completion should be your main priority.
2. Know what questions you need answered
Even if it’s the first meeting, you as the designer or project manager should know what details you need to help drive the project. It’s your responsibility to ask the client everything you need to know to make choices that will meet their pain points, and accomplish their goals. Most times, clients(or potential clients) aren’t sure exactly what solutions will work best, and they rely on your guidance and expertise to propel the project. Usually they have a picture in their head, but communicating it is sometimes difficult. Make sure to ask specific question, not just about aesthetic changes, but also possible solutions to bigger problems ✅.
3. Start at a High-Level before jumping in specific details
You may find that clients can gets hyper focused on small details, derailing the productivity of the call. A way to avoid this is by starting with the big picture. By starting at a high level you can explain your reasoning and get your clients to see the solution before jumping into the smaller details, like placeholder text not being correct, or a specific color needing to “pop more”🤦♀️. This can help you not only use your time more wisely, but figure out if the project is on the right track rather than getting stuck on small details that won’t help you get to the finish line.
4. Don’t present in the same platform you create in
Sometimes it may seem more convenient or time efficient to just show a client what you have been working on in the same platform you built it in. I’m here to tell you it’s not a good idea. If the client sees you can actively make changes in the platform they will expect you to make updates while on the call. This can lead to a huge waste of time. You’ll get stuck changing colors, rewriting text over an over again, and/or adjusting tiny details with your client's watchful eye on you. 👀 Their lack of design expertise can reduce the impact of the overall design. Limiting the way you show your work, can help you remain in control of the outcome.
If you use a platform like Figma or Sketch, consider exporting your designs and show them in a word doc, so you can control the storyline of the meeting, and reduce on-demand changes. If you work in Photoshop, or illustrator maybe try using dropbox or google drive to show your designs. You can add their comments directly on the preview as you discuss, that way your client can see you’ve taken note of their suggestions. This will ensure everyone is on the same page without you losing control of the meeting.
Meetings don’t always workout the way you envisioned, so lead with confidence and be flexible! Making an agenda, writing down your questions, start at high level, and moving out of your design platform are some of the easiest ways to help your client call move in the right direction. Try utilizing these tips in your next meeting!
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