How to Ensure Productive Communication with Clients

In an increasingly competitive world, a client-supplier relationship can be an exciting opportunity for growth, innovation and development. When communication issues aren’t addressed though, dealing with clients and suppliers can unfortunately be an extremely frustrating exercise, something we’ve all experienced I’m sure. Whilst challenging relationships might allow us to really grow and allow us to learn, here are some of the ways to avoid any unnecessary complications in a world where we have access to so many different communication channels. 1. Set Clear Expectations at the Start The way we work with clients may differ depending on the work we do, and is no doubt influenced by varying personalities and work styles. Whilst the importance of developing a rapport with a client may make a frank conversation slightly awkward early on in the relationship, setting out very clear expectations from the beginning will help to prevent disappointment and resentment down the line. To make sure that clear expectations are set out, listen to the client’s needs carefully. This will allow you to be able to respond appropriately, even if it means you might need to adjust your proposal and timelines. 2. Discuss the Fine Print Upfront It might be tempting to gloss over the inevitable fine print that comes with contracts, proposals and cost estimates, it can be helpful to go through any legal considerations upfront to avoid any unnecessary communciation issues at a later stage. It can be painful to read extended legal documents, but being able to communicate any important considerations can create a productive relationship that allows any issues to be discussed immediately. Outlining everything from...

How to Manage Meetings Productively

We set up meetings hoping to achieve a certain objective, but sometimes in practice we don’t cover everything that we intend to when meeting with either colleagues or clients. If we don’t set an agenda or have a clear goal in mind, we can often get caught up in off-topic conversation with an interesting client or get distracted by day-to-day issues. To make the most of meetings, whether you’re using VoIP software or having a face-to-face meeting in a boardroom, follow my five tips for organising and executing effective meetings: 1. Set a Clear Agenda As most people are cramming in as many tasks into a day as possible and stressed about getting everything done, it’s important to be clear about what is going to be discussed in a meeting to avoid wasting anyone’s time. While this can be done in different ways, it’s essential to make a point of clarifying what is going to be discussed, even if it’s done via email and not always a formal agenda document. This can even include a quick Skype chat message or meeting request to confirm a date, time and a short one-line summary. 2. Select Your Attendees Carefully While it might seem productive to include everyone on your team in the same meeting, sometimes it’s more effective to have shorter meetings with less people, more often. In the past face-to-face status meetings were essential to keep everyone in the loop, but with email and an increase in the use of collaborative software, it’s no longer essential to have meetings. Including the right people in a meeting will lead to greater...

6 Ways to Fight Your Fear of Public Speaking

Standing up and speaking in front of a group of people can be a daunting task for many of us. The fear of saying something wrong, or having our message fall on an unreceptive audience are anxieties we all experience at some point. Some people seem to be naturally gifted when it comes to communicating to a crowd, but the truth is that it often takes a lot of practice and preparation. Here are six tips to keep in mind when preparing to speak up: 1. Speak from Your Diaphragm If you’re ever done an acting class you’ll know that there are many exercises that are done to practice projecting your voice. By just being aware of speaking from your diaphragm and breathing from your belly you can project your voice more clearly and confidently. 2. Don’t Underestimate Your Ideas Have you ever been afraid to share your opinion because you can’t be sure of the outcome, only to have the person next to you in a meeting say exactly what you wanted to with a positive response? Although there might be a difference in preparation between a meeting and a big speech, just practicing speaking up in informal environments is confidence building in preparation for larger audiences. 3. Accentuate Your Strengths If you’re more of an introvert, public speaking in front of a big audience can be terrifying. However, the truth is that you can develop an on-stage persona and work to your strengths to make up for the fact that you might not always be comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of hundreds of people....

Meetings: 101

Let’s get better about meetings. Let’s agree that often we meet for no other reason than to catch up on what’s happening because we’re disorganised to start with and this is simply a very bad reason to be meeting. Let’s move towards smart … it makes for happier work. Below are 11 actionable ways to reduce meetings, maximise time spent in meetings when they are necessary, and to ensure that what gets discussed in meetings actually gets actioned afterwards: 1. Have a Reason Many meetings are simply recurring for the sake of it. Many people attend meetings, unsure about what will be discussed. This is time wasting at its very best. Ensure that when you’re calling a meeting every attendee knows the purpose/goal/aim of the meeting to start with. 2. Double Check Your Meeting Motive Are you pulling the team into the meeting because collectively discussing a project is the best way to proceed forward or because you’re too lazy to discuss each person’s role and task list with them individually? If you’re strapped for time and need to bulk management a group of people, do not haul people into meetings unnecessarily while you drone on about project elements that only pertain to certain people. Keep people focused on their key deliverables. 3. Create an Agenda It’s obvious but virtually no one ever does it. My English writing teacher always said that the person who spends two thirds of their time planning their essay and the other third writing it, always achieved higher marks. The success of most things in life, lies in the preparation, not in the execution....