4 Ways to Confidently Rally & Get Ready for a Client who Drops In Unexpectedly
So, you checked your calendar this morning while getting ready for work, and you’re relieved that there are no in-person client meetings on the docket. It will be a productive day, where you can dress a bit more casually and get through the work already on your plate.
Fast-forward three hours.
Your supervisor pops their head into your office and asks if you can join an unexpected client meeting in an hour. Not one to turn down an opportunity or a challenge, you accept. But you don’t look your best and you feel overwhelmingly underprepared. Fear not! Take the short amount of time you have before the meeting to get ready by following some simple steps:
1. Stay Calm
Your first reaction in this situation might be to vent to your work BFF about how inconsiderate the client or your supervisor was in not giving you time to prepare for this meeting. Instead, take a deep breath and focus on what you can control — like doing a Google search on the people with whom you’re meeting, plus getting a copy of the meeting agenda.
2. Prepare High-Level Questions and Touch Base with your Team
If you’ve been in similar meetings before, you likely have an idea of the direction the conversation will take. So use this experience to prepare five or ten tailored questions for the client, and try to include a few that will lead into a topic that you can confidently discuss.
On the other hand, if this concerns a new client or a topic you haven’t yet mastered, touch base with your team members who will be in the meeting with you or who have worked with the client before. Then, while you’re skimming the client’s Facebook page or website, your coworkers will easily be able to bring you up to speed on how your company is assisting them and what the client is seeking.
3. Dig into Your Extra (Clothing/Makeup) Supplies at the Office
Once you feel a little more prepared about the content of the meeting, you can shift gears and focus on your appearance. First impressions are important, and you don’t want to look too dressed down or disheveled. Solution: if last-minute meetings or events often come up in your workplace, consider keeping some key items at your desk that can help you feel more pulled together without changing into a new outfit, such as:
- A pair of cream-colored or black heels
- Mascara, blush and lipstick
- A black or brown blazer
- A toothbrush and toothpaste
Spend about ten minutes before the meeting touching up your makeup and changing into a blazer and heels. You’ll instantly feel more confident about walking into the meeting and introducing yourself.
4. Or, at Least, Pull your Hair Back and Tuck in Your Shirt
On the other hand, if you don’t have extra shoes or clothing options at your office, at the very least tuck in your shirt and pull back your hair. This helps you look more polished and will visually portray that your work is just as pulled together.
Another way to look more professional: if you’re rocking the latest fashion trend, like a tattoo choker necklace or studded earrings, consider removing them for the meeting. While your colleagues may support your forward-thinking looks, until you get to know your client, it’s better to look more conservative. As they get to know your personality and the amazing work you produce for them, then you can start introducing them to your funkier side.
Breathe and Prepare — Then Re-Group for Next Time
While last-minute meetings can send you into panic mode, it’s best to stay focused on the task at hand: getting prepared as best you can. Most colleagues and clients will understand that you may not have had adequate time to prepare, but you can pleasantly surprise them with your confidence and professionalism.
After the meeting is over, chat with your boss about how the meeting was scheduled, and if there is a better process to involve you so that you feel more prepared ahead of time. They themselves may not have had a heads-up, or it may have been that there was a last-minute addition to the agenda, and they felt you would be a valuable asset in the conversation. Either way, it’s a learning opportunity with room to improve for next time.12