Q: My colleague and I attend a lot of client meetings together and
we always brainstorm and plan our strategy before we go. "Dave" always
has a lot of ideas for how we should tackle certain promotions, or how
we should raise a problem with the client. In fact, he comes up with
more than his share of good ideas. But when we get to the meeting, he
hardly says a word. I have to do all the talking, and when I try to draw
him into the discussion, he just turns it right back to me by saying
something like, "You explain it much better than I do." I am really sick
of being the one who has to do all the work in the meetings.
Mrs. J, Birmingham, AL
A: "Dave" has one of two problems. Either he is hopelessly shy in front
of the big scary client, or he feels nervous about his ideas and wants
to distance himself during the meetings in order to gauge the client's
Whatever his motives are, it is clear that neither one of you knows the
first thing about how to properly plan for a client meeting. An
effective face-to-face involves a lot more than just rattling off a lot
of winning ideas to promote the next-generation toothpaste, or whatever.
You have to demonstrate to your contacts that you work as a dynamic
team, that both of you are committed to the account and equally
important to its excellent management.
Presentation is as important as substance. Tell the taciturn "Dave" that
your strategy sessions will henceforth include developing a presentation
plan, with informal scripting of who says what and when. Otherwise, your
partner might find the client wondering what he is adding to the account
team, other than billable hours.
Q: I am VP of corporate communications for a small technology company.
We have just signed a licensing deal with a major tech company to
manufacture one of our most exciting products, and the press is starting
to really pay attention, asking me for interviews with our designers and
My problem sounds really dumb, but it concerns our CEO. She is such a
great person, and she has absolutely no vanity, which is exactly the
The last official photo she had taken was seven years ago - right after
she was appointed. Not only does she look different now, but the photo
looks old-fashioned and not befitting our image. We are not publicly
traded (yet!), so there is no annual report to worry about, but she
won't even let us take a new picture to put on our website.
If publications, newsletters, or conferences ask for her picture (and
are not willing to pay for a photographer), we end up looking like
amateurs. But she just doesn't care, saying it doesn't matter what she
looks like. In many ways she's right, of course, but I really think
having a good photo is important. What do you think?
Mr. L, Winston-Salem, NC
A: I admire your CEO's attitude, but you have to make her understand
that having a good photo taken is not an ego trip. Photos are important
tools when communicating with the media, investors, consumers, and the
general public. The company is gaining more media attention now, and she
may not know that this happy situation will demand a more high-profile
response from her.
Have you ever discussed with her what image she wants to project to the
public? It may be that she is turned off by the staid, boring headshots
that so many companies use. Find ways for her to demonstrate her unique
Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try
Pandora. E-mail her at email@example.com.