Ready to Impress At Your Next Meeting?
You’re getting ready for a big meeting with a client or prospective donor, and you want them to feel like you’re the only choice for them. You need to ooze confidence and sell yourself without appearing nervous or uncertain. Every person in the room has a different personality and set of concerns, but they all need to feel like you’re speaking directly to them. No pressure, right?
Here are 10 tips for rocking your next meeting.
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
All the swagger in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you haven’t done your research. Before your meeting, learn as much as you can about your client or prospect, the history of their company, their goals, and their needs. Don’t forget about the practical details either, like knowing where you’re going and the names of the people you’re meeting.
2. Look the Part
Wear clothing that makes you look and feel good, and present yourself in a way that shows confidence without being aggressive or arrogant. “Sounds silly, but I totally do the power pose thing,” says Mark Brooks, business development specialist at Graphcom. “There are said to be measurable physiological advantages to standing like Superman. Whether that is true or 100-percent mental, it works for me.”
3. Make Small Talk
Don’t jump straight to the heavy stuff. Get to know your client or prospect on a personal level and talk about topics that are safe and lack controversy. Mention the weather or talk about a big game the previous night. Ask about a mutual friend or a family member. Let them know they’re doing business with a real person who genuinely cares.
4. Stay Cool
You really want to nail this meeting, and you know your organization is a perfect fit for their needs. But, you don’t want to appear desperate. Be confident, not overeager. With a pep talk, tell yourself that while you’d love to gain their business, life will go on if they go in another direction.
5. Listen to What They Have to Say
Be careful not to turn the meeting into a one-sided conversation. Listen to your client or prospect, and understand their needs and concerns. They know their business and needs better than anyone, so let them help you understand what makes them unique. “Ask questions to engage and ensure the room is following with you,” says Mark. “If you just blather on, even confidently, you could still lose the room. Keep them engaged and they’ll stay with you.”
6. Don’t Read Your Lines
It’s easy to tell the difference between someone who’s speaking passionately about a topic and someone who’s just reading lines from a page. Speaking off the cuff, you appear more confident and knowledgeable about the subject matter. “If you have to read, you don’t know it,” says Mark. “Have bullet point notes so you can easily find where you are, but it will come across as more confident and natural if you let the presentation move organically.”
7. Face Your Critics
No matter the room, you’ll probably meet someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with you on everything you say. Don’t let them fluster you, and don’t get angry. Listen to what they have to say, and politely respond as best you can. “Sometimes there is a person in the room who seems like they are out to get you. They probably aren’t or at least you can’t think that they are,” says Mark. “Most of the time, they want to get a point across. Respect their perspective, but you are the expert. If you prove your ultimate goal is to help them, then the respect will be returned.”
8. Take Your Time
Don’t rush through your presentation. Often, a presenter will go in with a plan of taking their time and speaking slowly, but they find themselves speeding through everything they wanted to say. Talking fast doesn’t get your point across any better. “I’ve definitely suffered from this in my career,” says Mark. “You actually see people’s eyes start to spin when they’re trying to keep up and can’t.”
9. Sell Your Merits
Don’t be afraid to say exactly why you think you’re perfect for the job. Give them examples of times you’ve been successful with similar clients or prospects in the past, and have your portfolio ready to go so they have a better idea of what you could do for them. There’s nothing arrogant about showing off your skills.
10. Follow Up
After you’ve wrapped up a successful meeting, make sure you follow up and leave a positive impression. Send them a friendly email or make a quick phone call thanking them for their time. Let them know that you’re available if they have any questions or if they’d like to discuss next steps.