Guide to Client Service: Volume II, RelationshipsChapter four

Using Meeting Breaks Effectively

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget that clients are people too; people with opinions, motivations, feelings, and lives outside the boardroom.

A great way to strengthen client relationships in meetings is to use the downtime or a break as an opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level. You’ll be surprised what might be revealed away from the structured agendas, large-team conversations, and go-go-go mentality.

Whether it’s during a five or ten minute break or side conversations over lunch or coffee, asking clients simple questions can help them feel important as people (not just clients), while often providing you more insight into their business and motivations.

How to Make the Most of Lulls During Meetings:

Ask questions! Here are some same questions to ask when making the most of breaks in meetings:

1. How do you feel the meeting is going? Is the content meeting your expectations? Anything you should dial up/down for the next part?

Most times a client will be honest about this when asked outside of a large group. The goal here is to either get confirmation that your team is on the right track, or get quick input if you need to shift the conversation approach for any reason.

Example: Someone unexpected joined the meeting from the client’s team so it would be great for the team to dial up any information you have relative to that person.

Example: The client could have had a meeting earlier that day where they learned a business update that is relevant to what you’ll be discussing later that afternoon. This allows you to shift conversation to support the update in a timely manner.

2. You mentioned you did [vacation, concert, sports game, etc.] last week. How was it? What was the best part?

The goal here is to connect on something personal that was already mentioned and invite the client to talk about themselves a bit more over something non-business. Remember, clients are people, too!

3. We just talked about [X] and based on your comment about [Y], I think we should dig deeper into [Z]. What do you think?

Sometimes, asking an opinion outside of the larger group can make the client feel less on the spot, and could help them open up about things that will make your meeting more successful.

Meeting breaks are a great opportunity to connect with clients (and other stakeholders) as people. Hopefully you found these prompts helpful, and are able to try them out for yourself!