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How to behave in a client meeting

12 January 2008 7 Comments

MeetingsI just noticed a post by Karen Miller Russel of the Teaching PR blog which asks PR pros to blog about a dozen things. I thought I’d help out by picking up on her request for advice on how to behave in a client meeting.

The first thing to remember is not to be too nervous. You wouldn’t be there if your boss wasn’t confident that you won’t screw up too badly. But, remember your first client meeting isn’t your opportunity to shine. Don’t dominate the conversation, but don’t sit like a lump either. Who ever is leading the meeting, will likely call on you at the appropriate time for your contribution, so be prepared. Know what you are expected to discuss before you enter the room and ensure you are ready.

Make notes of anything discussed that you don’t understand and research it after the meeting. This is especially important when unfamiliar jargon and acronyms start flying. Don’t be intimated, this terminology is the vernacular of your client’s business; you’ll pick it up with time.

Remember your boss and your client were newbies once too. They’ll be gentle.

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  • Jill said:

    I think you offer some great advice for people who are new to the world of client meetings. However, I’d recommend asking for clarification on anything you don’t understand rather than making note of it. While some discretion is necessary, there are few stupid questions that new people can ask.

  • sherrilynne (author) said:

    Jill I take your point, but I have to differ with you. There are lots of stupid questions. Lots. You don’t yet understand your client’s politics. You don’t know what’s been discussed before. You might hear a term that although is new to you, is actually pretty basic. “What’s a telco?”

    Believe me, it’s true, a shut mouth hides…you know the rest.

  • Rita said:

    From the “better to comment late, than never” file, because this post has stayed in my mind ever since I first read it.

    Stuff that I wish I did before I sat in on a client meeting:

    1)Find out from your supervisor what is expected from you.
    Will you be asked to participate in any way?
    Will you be asked for your opinions?
    What kind of opinions? Will you be expected to give advice about media relations, product placement, generating word-of-mouth buzz? Will you be asked to write releases, or media advisories?

    What’s going to be your role after the meeting? This will help you stay sharp and pick up information during the meeting that you’ll need to use while working on client work.

    2) Ask how you can best prepare for the meeting.
    Are there any project reports you may read before hand? What about the communications plan?

    3) Take time to do some research about the client on your own if time permits. That means, get on the PC at home and do Google or Yahoo searches.

    4) A pleasant smile, and polite demeanor covers for a lot of nothing! That is–if you haven’t a clue, at least you can look sharp, look special. Don’t ruin the illusion by opening your yap. Be courtly and/or courteous and act attentive. Dress professionally.

    Now some advice for the senior folks, who invited the newbie to attend the meeting–don’t just dangle them out there, like a worm on a hook! You’re responsible for the meeting. A little direction before the client meeting will go a long, long way.

    The bottom line is communication. If you are asked to attend a meeting it’s a good idea to find out, why me? If you are asking a junior associate to attend a meeting with you—help them out a little, will ya!

  • Sherrilynne (author) said:

    Thanks for your contribution to the discussion Rita. You make some very valid points. I especially like your advice to senior folks. Quite right.

  • July’s fave five | Strive Notes said:

    […] How to behave in a client meeting was first posted in January but saw a boost in popularity recently.  Could it be that new grads […]

  • 2008’s top ten Strive Notes | Strive Notes said:

    […] New to agency life and want to know how to behave in a client meeting?  Check this post […]

  • Chaim Duke said:

    One more reason to use a mac 😉

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