Is The Client Always Right?

Well only in the sense that they always have the last word right up to the point of them firing you or you firing them. I recommend the latter course should it come to that.

This came to mind the other day when I was reflecting on a client of mine who uses me just once a year. He is a senior officer in a large resource company. And every year he goes to the same international convention to deliver essentially the same speech year after year.

My instructions?

Update the numbers and graphs on the Power Point slides. And think up a clever opening and rousing closing and leave the middle bit essentially the same – you know the text that describes what’s on the PP slides.

Now I like this client. He is very nice. Not a great speaker but not unspeakably wretched. For years I have tried to talk him out of PP – but they are his security blanket.

The pity of it is that he doesn’t need the slides at all. He knows his industry and his company backwards and forwards. And the resource sector in these economically times is – not to put too fine on point on it – interesting. It seems to me the numbers are a backdrop to the far more intriguing matter of geopolitics. Grab that by the throat and you’ve got an interesting speech going.

Besides, as important as the cold hard statistics are – the fact is everyone in the audience is just as familiar with the same numbers.

So I do the best I can to open and close with something at least marginally interesting to bookend the numbers and continue to have him as a client. I considered firing him for a while since I don’t really need him as a client. But he is nice guy, and I consider my right and bounden duty to weed him away from PowerPoint. That will get him off the numbers – off the safe but oh so dreadfully boring recital – and on to the very human endeavour of talking to men and women who share his passion for what he does. About what he thinks really matters and what he lights up about behind closed doors.