For some, facing a client to make a pitch or presentation is child’s play. For others it’s a fate worse than death. How to prepare for meetings

If you are one of the latter, how can you prepare effectively?

The key to effective meetings

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that you can pop to make everything run smoothly. The only way to be confident in your meeting it to prepare thoroughly.

1. The beginning

The whole process is likely to start with a phone call, so your aim is to extract as much information from them as possible as to what they’re looking for.

As a copywriter, I would want to know details about their project, who their target audience is, what the review process will be, what format will it take etc.

Bur your questions should go beyond the project and also cover things such as:

  • Who will be at the meeting?
  • Where is it to be held?
  • Is car parking easy?
  • Are they meeting any other copywriters?

The idea is that, by the end of the call you have all the information you need.

2. Before the meeting

Before your meeting, research should be your number one priority.

Have a look at their website and see what you can glean about their company. This will also give you an idea of what type of marketing they do and the style of their communication.

Next, do a bit of digging on who will be at the meeting to get an idea of their background.

Then you need to work out what you’re going to ask them. Remember to always use open questions – if you let them do the talking you can find out all sorts of little gems. Plus, it will give you chance to settle into the meeting.

3. Before hitting the road

This might sound obvious, but forget one of these and you could end  up in hot water.

Make sure you know where you’re going and you know how to get there. Have the name and number of the person you’re meeting so, should traffic conspire against you, you can call ahead and let them know if you’ll be delayed. Leave loads of time so you arrive calm with all  the pens, paper and other techie bits and bobs you’ll need.

4. The moment of truth

You’ve arrived at the meeting, suited, booted and ready to rock.

Firmly shake hands, make small talk and ease yourself into the meeting gradually. Once that’s done, recap what they said the project was (so you both know you’re where you stand) and hit them with your first open question. Then, sit back and take notes.

5. The close

Assuming the person you’re meeting with can make a decision there and then to kick off the project, agree your payment terms, how you’ll proceed and let them know what they can expect to happen.

6. Well done

That’s it, meeting over and a successful result – well done.

Meetings don’t have to fill you with dread. So long as you prepare, you’ll be fine. And the more you do, the more confident  you’ll become.