Have you ever been in a conversation with a client and watched the expression on their face as they’re clearly not following you?

Or your client puts their viewpoint across, then you put yours across, you feel you both want the same outcome from the conversation but don’t feel you’re achieving it because you’re not speaking the same language?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This is a common challenge most of us will find ourselves in at some point of our professional lives (and personal lives too). In the technical world of design and digital, the language we use can often present communication challenges to the outside world, as a result, over recent years, we’ve worked really hard to try and build common language and communication channels with our clients to help nurture the relationship; it also helps our projects run as smoothly as possible.

  • You say title, we say header
  • You say flyer design, we say brochure design
  • You say blog, we say news
  • You say Google, we say search engine
  • You say domain name, we say URL

True communication is an exchange of meaning, so just because you sent an email, doesn’t mean that you have communicated. Meaning is based on your own knowledge, experiences and interpretation of the world.

Listen first

If a potential client is interested in working with you, the project will run far smoother the better you know them so try to get a clear understanding of their business, what they do and what their objectives are for the project.

This begins by listening.

Understand the problem or challenge they’re facing.
In their own words, listen to what their problem is and how you can help solve it.

How and why did the challenge arise?
The reason you think they have an issue to solve may be different to their explanation.

Understand the end goal.
A crystal clear understanding of what they want to achieve for the project as well as long term plans for the business is critical to success.

Understand their audience.
Who are their clients and who are they looking to attract?

Set your expectations early

From the very offset of a project, explain to your client what you do, how you do what you do and what the benefits are to them. As part of the project can you provide your client with educational tools or resources that will help them understand the process they’re about to start?

Convey meaning through a common vocabulary

A great way to eliminate technical jargon from your vocabulary when speaking with clients is to use language your client is familiar with. Have a thorough understanding of your client’s industry, helping you become familiar with the terms they use every day. Could you create a glossary tool to educate them on some of the vocabulary you’ll be using during the project?

Keep jargon to a minimum

Explain everything in the most simple terms, be respectful of your client and check that they have a full understanding of your processes from start to finish so they don’t come back to you with lots of questions and more importantly they don’t feel frustrated or undermined.

Clear communication is all about equipping clients with the tools so they feel confident to liaise with you at all stages of the project, eliminating stress, uncertainty and friction.

By following our tips above, we hope this gives you the starting blocks to enhance your client relationships for a positive harmonious and long-term experience.