5 Tips for Remote Meetings with Clients

Person working remotely

Online meetings really are the new normal. For “people people”, they can be difficult. They feel strange and impersonal. For those who prefer smaller meetings for interactions with others, the chatter from unmuted conversations and myriad images on the screen can be overwhelming. For the private person who separates work and home into distinct compartments, the blurring of lines can produce feelings of invasion, anxiety, or even violation. And the distraction of dogs, spouses, and kids, can mean that even the most focused attendees can easily get side tracked. Combine all this with wanting to make a good impression with clients, and you’ve got tall order to fill. We’ve been working remotely with many of our clients for decades, and we’ve got five tips for remote meetings with your clients that we hope will make your days just a bit easier.

  1. First, plan in advance, just as you would for a face-to-face meeting. Email an agenda, if you’re in the driver’s seat, with no more than three key topics you want to cover. Or if the client has asked to meet with you, a simple, “what would you like me to be prepared to work on for our meeting?” goes a long way to setting the stage that they’re still as important as ever, and that you are taking the meeting seriously.
  2. Next, find a good space. In a small space like our big city condo, that can be a challenge. We’re lucky to have a dedicated office space, but not everyone does. Whether it’s your couch, your dining room table, or perched on your bed with a virtual backdrop, what’s most important is to eliminate distractions as much as possible, so you can give the client your full attention.
  3. Then, dress up how you want to show up. If your colleagues are into pjs and t-shirts, that’s their call. If you’re trying to mirror the client and their style is more relaxed than it might normally be, you can still do your smartest smart casual and not make a misstep. You need to present yourself in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
  4. Also, when you’re online with the client, do the same thing you might do in their office. Pay attention to their environment. Learn what you can about them that might help you create a richer connection. Find out how they like to live and work. Show some empathy and ask how they’re holding up, if this is a new way for them to work.
  5. Last of all, ask yourself how you need to meet, to best accomplish the goals of this interaction. Even though it is currently “flavour of the month”, do you need a video call at all? Just because everyone’s on a Hangout, a Zoom, or a Teams right now, doesn’t mean those are the right tool. Maybe just the sound of your voice is enough. Or an email. Or even an old-fashioned handwritten note. Marshall Mcluhan said that the medium is the message, and he was never more right than right now.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to know to make better decisions. You can find us on Twitter, on Facebook, or on LinkedIn. We can meet you online, or hop on a call. And if you’d like more news you can use delivered straight to your inbox, sign up with the handy orange button.

Make Sure Your Business is Strong AND Flexible

Image by AndiP from Pixabay
This post originally appeared back in April 2019, but it’s just as relevant today.

Today I was reading a cautionary tale about restaurant ownership, and one of the issues was the problem the owner had run into with pricey real estate and long-term leases. For sure, there are some businesses where you absolutely must “be there” – where space is important – and in these cases you should push for the best you can afford, as soon as possible. For most businesses, though, when you think about the “where” of your business, you’ll be stronger in the long run if you build flexibility into your plan.

Let me give you an example. One consultant we know (we’d say “headhunter”, but he wouldn’t) had lots of corporate clients, back in the days when businesses like his usually had large, pricey offices in the financial core of their city. Those kinds of businesses often relied on the prestige of real estate to convey a message of reliability, dependability, and success. Our friend got into the executive shared office space in its very early days. No one knew that his Bay Street address was only a mail-drop and answering service. After all, he went to the clients. But since people still wrote letters for business back then, his address looked very impressive on business cards and letterhead. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that many businesses have no physical space at all. Consultants, coaches, advisors and more, have found that they can carry out their business very well in the virtual space, or by going to where their clients are. On the rare occasion when they need to host a meeting, they can do it in a rented-for-purpose location like a hotel meeting room or a co-working space. This doesn’t just apply to knowledge workers, though. Think about all of the direct-selling operations that don’t have storefronts, but sell through home parties. Or online businesses. And what about our restauranteur? What about catering with a rental kitchen, or food pop-ups, or other creative locations?

When you’re planning your business, ask yourself what the space signifies to the customer, and whether you can achieve that signal in another way that’s less costly, and that ties up less of your resources. We’ve spent so much time making remote work possible for employees of large organizations, there’s no reason you can’t build this into your own business, as well.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners in PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help you see everything you need to know to make better business and career decisions. Want more insights to help you grow? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Then sign up before Friday to receive the next issue of our News You Can Use.