I was recently prepping with the team for a client meeting...
We were doing the usual drill—moving slides around, clarifying roles and practicing our talking points for what we wanted to accentuate and where we hoped we could lead the meeting.
It’s all good practice. Meeting preparation that is. No matter how informal a meeting, one should be prepared and knowledgeable of the topics to be discussed.
However, more times than not, client meetings turn into jazzy jam sessions vs. a classical music concerto where the solo presenter performs for their captive audience.
Reading sheet music and reading the room doesn’t have to be at odds but put yourself in the shoes of a client on the other side of the table who is depending on you to help them do their job—do they need perfection or professionalism?
The two aren’t the same.
Being a professional in a meeting means knowing when to stick to your sheet music and when to riff, following the client’s lead. More times than not, meetings with clients both new and familiar should be more like improvised Jazz than perfectly performed classical.
The client isn’t your audience, but an integral part of the band.