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#515: Prepare Carefully To Be Spontaneous

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, March 4, 2011
Updated: Friday, March 4, 2011
Every so often in a client meeting I am asked to quickly summarize progress on an engagement and plans are for the coming week. Any tips to make these presentations go better?

First of all, you shouldn't ever be caught by surprise by requests like these. Your client wants to be on top of his or her business. Effective consulting means understanding your clients, their situation, your project plan, findings to date, and where the engagement is headed.

Here's one way to be sure you are fully prepared for a "spontaneous" project summary. At least every week (or before project team briefings), prepare a summary of your engagement. The specifics will depend on the nature of your client and the project but here are a few items you might include:
  • Overall client need and objectives
  • Key project assumptions
  • Work scope for this period
  • Activities for this period
  • Key findings to date and significance
  • Emerging issues and uncertainties
  • Recommended change in project scope and cost
  • Requests for staff and information requests
Put this on a single sheet of paper and spend five minutes practicing your "spontaneous" briefing. Even if you never have to deliver it, this will help you sort out and clarify key factors driving you toward a complete and effective solution to your client's needs. Use this as a record of your project status, either for your own documentation or as a report to hand to your client.

Tip: If you can't summarize the key elements of your project on one page, and to your client in just a few minutes, you may need to think more about what are the most important items to convey.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  consulting process  engagement management  practice management  presentations  proposals 

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