Great news! You’ve finally got a meeting scheduled with that impossible-to-reach client and now you’re working on your PowerPoint deck before the meeting. Hold on, though, because you still have a lot of work to do besides just working on the deck (we’ll talk about the deck in a future blog post). Remember that in preparing for the client meeting, keep your focus on the customer and their needs.
I will generally allow a minimum of 2 hours of prep work for a 1 hour meeting. If you are already working with this client/individual, you might allow for less time and if it is a new client, you might allow more. Here is a checklist of things you definitely want to cover off before the meeting:
Try to get a list of all the attendees in the meeting and their job responsibilities
It’s important to know what the ‘pecking order’ is with the meeting attendees and who is the key person that needs to understand your points. Obviously, you address the entire group but make sure you’re focused on the decision-maker.
Allow plenty of time for travel to the meeting
This is certainly important where I live in Southern California but it even more important if you are on a business trip and are unfamiliar with the city. Imagine flying into a city for meetings and not realizing that it is an hour between locations for your meetings…definitely a challenge in LA. Double-check locations and travel times.
Arrive early to the meeting
I have always said that it is better to be 30 minutes early to a meeting than 5 minutes late…plus, you have time to gather your thoughts before the meeting starts. This is also very important because you can make any last-minute changes to the deck or to your comments opening the meeting. It’s much better to be relaxed, composed and confident at the start of the meeting than being rushed, flushed, and disorganized. People will notice the disorganization rather than the content you’re presenting.
Make sure to do your homework about both the companies and/or individuals attending the meeting
You should already have a file on an existing client and you should do research on new clients, too. LinkedIn is a great resource for researching both companies and people…I find that it is a great icebreaker in meetings to acknowledge shared LinkedIn contacts or friends. Make sure to always check headlines the day of the meeting for any late breaking news about their company, too.
If your boss is joining you, make sure to prep them on your meeting goals and the attendees at the meeting
This is under the category also of “Managing Up” (which will be a future blog topic). It is important that your boss is aware of any topics that are “red flags” in the meeting. You want to make sure that the boss is comfortable enough to have a good conversation even if they are not directly involved in the presentation.
Before the meeting actually begins, confirm if you have a ‘hard stop’ or if there is some flexibility with the end time
This is not only a common courtesy to the meeting attendees but it is critical in your pacing of the meeting. It is a meeting fail to be 75% through your presentation and, because of Q&A, you aren’t able to finish. Confirming the amount of time that you actually have will enable you to pace the presentation appropriately and allow for questions. None of the attendees will be upset if you finish 5 minutes early!
Make sure to confirm the meeting, in writing, the day before
People are busy…calendars are crowded with back-to-back meetings. There would be nothing worse than arriving in time with your boss for a meeting only to find out that it is cancelled. Depending on the client, it doesn’t hurt to confirm more than once, too.
Check on all tech requirements the day before…hotspot for Wi-Fi, projector remote, etc.
How many times does your internet connection need to be rebooted in your home? Make sure and have a backup Wi-Fi hotspot with you (can be your phone) if you are giving a ‘live’ demo online. Check to make sure the remote is working for advancing your slides. Doesn’t hurt to have back-up screen shots available in case the live demo still doesn’t work.
Congratulations, again, on landing that big meeting! Go through this checklist to make sure that you are thoroughly prepared for a successful meeting.
I welcome your comments and questions…