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#58: Creating in Front of Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Updated: Thursday, May 28, 2009
I like to be prepared with slides and data that I might need about questions that might come up during a briefing or meeting. How much "extra" preparation is appropriate for a presentation?

Although part of your job is to be prepared for any briefing, presentation or discussion you have with your client (or a prospect), having all the answers may be less important than being able to create the answers. What I mean is that people are more amenable to understanding and accepting reasoning that is developed at a pace at which they can apply logic and absorb. When you come loaded with "all the data" on prepared slides or charts, you may miss an opportunity to adapt to the conversation and go in a new direction.

It is a marvelous skill to be able to go from a blank piece of paper to a wonderfully compelling graph, chart, list or figure. This process mirrors the recipient of your presentation's path from not knowing what you are going to say to fully understanding it. Thrusting a complex chart in front of someone, as may consultants are wont to do, can overwhelm even the most knowledgeable client.

Tip: Spend some time developing your artistic skills. Not all of us are naturally good at drawing. Practice with notebook paper and easel paper in drawing your assumptions, logic, findings, schematics, recommendations and picture of the future after your recommendations are implemented. Bring graphics into discussion lets you engage both the right and left brain and more easily get your message across. One trick for drawing on an easel in front of a room: prepare your charts ahead of time in light pencil, sketching out figures and lists of most likely items to list. When it is time to "create" the charts, you will have both an easier time drawing and a readymade set of memory aids that will allow you to go with the flow.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  meeting preparation  meetings  presentations 

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Mary Adams CMC says...
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009
After I read Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam (his blog is here:, I used three drawings to tell the whole story of an engagement to the management committee at our client. I got to the last drawing and the GM defined the next step and asked us to structure a new project. Don't think that would have happened with bullet points....
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Mary Adams CMC says...
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009
After reading your post yesterday morning, I was at an event last night and heard another consultant use the term "graphic facilitation." Here's a blog I found-- There is a lot of power in this approach...
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