Participating in a Successful Kickoff Meeting
Any great project starts with a great kick-off meeting. For this reason, designers must know what it takes to participate in a successful one, including how to dress, look, act and express themselves. Today, we’re sharing some tips we share with young designers about kicking a** in kick-off meetings. We hope they help you, as well.
1. Be Prepared. A designer must read through the proposal, creative brief and do research on the client. You must come across like you KNOW about the project. If a client tells a sales person all about their business, then the designer comes in and asks all the same questions – the client is going to get angry and feel like we’re not communicating internally! This is a bad way to start a project off!
2. Have a list of questions ready to go before the meeting. Whether you’re selling or having a kickoff meeting – it’s easier to participate if you’ve pre-written a bunch of questions. Coming up with good questions on the spot is hard. Hopefully, as you do your research and read through the creative brief some questions will come to mind. Fortunately, Go Media has been doing this for some time, so we do have a boilerplate document filled with common questions. So, we never have to go in cold, but this is no excuse to not do research. The more detailed your questions, the more it will show the client you give a damn and will help your design process. This is your BEST OPPORTUNITY to start brainstorming design ideas and to pick the customer’s brain about what they want. So, take this opportunity and do it RIGHT – because it’s easier to get your designs right in the first place instead of having the client displeased and have to do them again!
3. Make them like you! This is a VERY powerful design tool. Did you know that if your clients like you, they are more likely to like the designs you send them? So, how exactly do you get a client to like you? Be friendly. Look for opportunities to connect with them on common interests. If you like fishing and they like fishing and that comes up during the meeting – awesome… talk about fishing for a while! Tell a joke. Show them pictures of your kids… whatever it takes. Get the client on your side!
4. Match the client’s body language and energy. This relates somewhat to the previous item. You want to make your clients comfortable! A great way to do that is to match their personality. If they are stiff and all business, you should be too. If they’re laid back and want to talk about their kids for an hour – do it. If they talk fast and have high energy, you should talk fast and have high energy.
5. Watch your own body language! You are subtly communicating to your clients based on your body language. Are you focused on them or staring off into space? Are you biting your nails or playing with your hair? Are you slouching in your chair? Sit upright, be alert and LISTEN CAREFULLY. Your body language should be saying: “I care about you! I am alert and listening intently. THIS is important to me.”
6. Dress the part. Show your client that you care and kick it up a notch for the kick-off. This is just another way to show your client that you have an interest in their project.
7. Take detailed notes. Unless you have a photographic memory, you’re sure to forget something was discussed. Even hand-written notes are unreliable. If you do prefer to hand-write notes go straight to your desk after the meeting and transcribe them onto your computer.
After the kick-off meeting is done, don’t forget to sincerely thank your client for their time. Throughout your working relationship, continue to connect with them and show them you care, carrying these tips with you even if you’re not face-to-face with your client. Good luck everyone!