How to have great virtual meetings

Updated: Oct 6

Creativity can be hard to explain. Especially at the mood board or concept stage when you need to understand your clients preferences and why they feel a certain way. Speaking to clients in real time is highly recommended but what if it is not an option? With great online chat rooms, you don’t necessarily need to be in the same room to have a face to face conversation.


We will look at what the science says about meeting in person and talk about how you can have great meetings even if virtual is your only option.



OVERVIEW

  • Why is it best to meet face to face?

  • Setup for virtual meeting success

  • Guide the conversation as you would in person

  • Encourage video

  • Follow up from the meeting

  • I’m not a robot

Why is it best to meet face to face?


The truth is, most creatives get a big portion of their work from referrals or existing clients. Besides the benefit of low acquisition costs, it can also be easier to work with someone when you know their brand inside and out. Clients tend to stick with people they feel comfortable with and creating a good relationship usually means feedback can be more constructive and open.


Meeting in person indirectly forces us to have a more relaxed and engaging interaction. From the moment the client walks through the door to the coffee being poured, small talk builds relationships. People are more honest in person and simple actions like shaking hands have shown to build trust and lead to better deals.


When we meet in person, it is also easier to get a feeling of how working together will turn out moving forward. This might be something that affects your decision to take on the job or your pricing of the project.


Setup for virtual meeting success


Virtual meetings need more structure. This is because we are more used to reading body language and being in different places often leads to unexpected distractions. One way to overcome this is to have a clear plan for the meeting and share this with your client.


Make sure you try any software you will be using before the meeting to make sure everything can run smoothly and without lag and inevitable confusion.


For creatives in particular, the ability to collaborate and show imagery can make or break a meeting. There are a number of softwares such as Invision and Review Studio which allow you to make notes and drawings on designs as you speak.


Guide the conversation to feel natural


Try to replicate the meeting structure you are used to when meeting in person. This can help make you feel more comfortable and ensures that you get all your answers. For example, if your meetings normally include you showing concepts one by one followed by conversation, you don’t want the client to skip ahead. One way to overcome this can be to share your screen rather than sending your client the presentation beforehand. Make sure to close down any unrelated tabs before you start sharing.


Encourage video


This is especially true if there are multiple people in the discussion. If some of the people attending use avatars, it is easier to accidentally exclude them from the conversation. Not being able to read facial expressions combined with poor internet connection is also a recipe for talking over each other.


Follow up the meeting


Even if a meeting has gone smoothly, it can be a good idea to send your clients a summary of the decisions made. This helps your team stay on the same page while designing, but it also works as a record if you and your clients disagree in the future.


Some designers also like to give their clients homework. This can be simple things like finding some inspiration photos or sending their old logo. This reinforces the feeling of collaboration and can help your client feel more ownership of the final designs.


I’m not a robot


If you will be dealing with sensitive information or need access to account logins, clients can often feel more secure if they have met you in person. If this is not possible and you notice a lack of trust, try to suggest a quick video call to get to know each other first.


What is your favorite virtual meeting software? Join the discussion in our Facebook community!