One of the main reasons our associates are able to build such excellent relationships with clients is their years of experience in their respective fields. They have been interacting with clients and discussing industry-related matters with them for decades – and this makes them really good at it! In addition, many of our associates also conduct training sessions or occasionally teach at university, which keeps their communication sharp and flexible.
Presenting information and concepts in an accessible way to clients often lies at the heart of a project. For those who have been in their field for only a few years or are new to the client communication aspect of the business, it is imperative to make up for the lack of experience with practice. Even our long-time Baird’s CMC associates regularly work on refreshing their skills and utilising new technologies (for instance, Prezi and Sliderocket) to improve communication.
While one may be thoroughly familiar with the content, presenting it effectively can still be hard. To begin with, try and determine the client’s knowledge level regarding the topic a few days before your presentation. Some clients may be completely unfamiliar, others may have a working knowledge of the subject, and others yet may be quite well-versed thanks to similar projects in the past.
Once you have a sense of this, practice conducting meetings and delivering presentations in ways that will get the message across effectively. Consider the language, stories, examples, audio-visual aids you could use to create maximum engagement and clarity. Don’t just think these through and add them to your laptop – it is best if you actually go through the entire presentation as you would in the meeting. If possible, ask your team to sit in as clients and anticipate questions or doubts that may come up. This exercise will hone your presentation skills and ensure that you are thoroughly prepared.
As regards tools to support your presentation, use them sparingly. A well-placed pie chart or audio track can be invaluable but too many presenters make the mistake of trying to use every aid available, jamming their presentation full of images, videos, charts, diagrams, songs and slideshows. This tends to cloud the messages, rather than clarify them. Depending on your audience, you may also consider employing a short interactive exercise if it helps to illustrate an important point.