If done well a client call can build on the excitement gained during the sales process. Inversely, it can also leave the client questioning their decision and wondering if they were sold a load of…well, crap. There’s nothing worse than dowsing the cold water of disorganization on top of client interaction.

In my 20s I was a part of a response team that traveled across the US and even at times outside the country to aid local governments or communities in cleanup and care after a natural disaster. At this program, you could receive training and certification in basic 1st Aid, EMT, Paramedics, High-angle rescue, Land Search and Rescue, Search and Rescue Diving, and Pilot Training, to name a few.

Students going through pilot training were given very detailed preflight checklists that had to be accomplished before they could take off. In the same way, before you start a call with a client, you need to run through your preflight list to ensure all parties have been given proper guidance on how to join the call and what will take place during the call.

Over the past 15 years of conducting design calls, I’ve learned a thing or two — mostly from my mistakes, and I’d like to share them with you: 

  1. A pre-call the day before with the primary contact may be needed. Especially if there has been any confusion leading up to the call or a large number of people are going to join the call.
  2. Make sure those who are using phones or tablets to dial in have downloaded the required software needed to join.
  3. Know the max number of attendees that can join via your conferencing software. I’ve been on calls where we maxed out, and it was embarrassing.
  4. Go through trial runs with your conference software and test on multiple browsers.
  5. Know the login process from the client’s point of view in case you need to walk them through joining the screen share.
  6. If you are sharing your screen, have all notifications silenced, and make sure no private information is visible. The client’s confidence will be lost if they see another’s information.
  7. Know if your client has a VPN or other type of security that will prevent them from gaining access.
  8. When large teams are present, make sure you are on mute when not speaking.
  9. Know how you sound to others who are listening. A lousy microphone or odd feedback can kill a call quickly.
  10. Set notifications to alert you 30 – 40 min before a call, this gives you the proper time to login and set up before others join.
  11. As a last resort, have a backup PDF or email with critical links and graphics that will be shared if your screen share unexpectedly stops working.

One issue I often deal with is the stress and pressure that easily creep in right before the call begins. I’ve found it helpful to do some deep breathing exercises to slow my heart and calm down. And as noted above. The more prepared you are, the more confidence you will have, and that will result in an enjoyable experience for all.