So you’ve just been given your first client brief…

A excited man in a red sweater with his fists in the air in from of a blue brick wall.
Unsplash photo by Bruce mars.

Congratulations, well done you. I shake you warmly by the hand.

But wait…this is your first real client.

Not to worry my intrepid friend, I remember not knowing what my first brief was asking of me. I looked at my team for some guidance. They were just as confused as I was, so here are four things I learned from my first client.

Lesson one: Don’t fear the brief.

Read and reread the brief, pop lids off highlighters, learn some fancy new corporate jargon, but don’t fear the brief. It’s there to guide you in a starting direction. Use this time to understand what problem your client is trying to solve. Who knows you might discover that the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t the problem after all. If you’re still not sure, ask your client. It works in the best interests of both you.

Lesson two: Clients are people too.

Clients deserve communication and empathy. This is their product after all. Everyone has up and down days, don’t take the down days as a reflection of yourself, you are on the team for a reason. Try to change your mindset from working FOR a client to working WITH a client. The process becomes a lot less scary.

Lesson Three: Users know way more than you do.

Your new mantra: I WILL ACTIVELY LISTEN TO THE USER.

For years now I thought I was a pretty good listener. I assumed that because I’m the quiet one in the group, automatically that made me a good listener. Recently I found out I’ve been lying to myself. Yes, you can respond to user statements with why and how do you feel, but give it ten minutes and ask yourself, do I know how the user feels? Find a technique that works best for you, note-taking, video or audio recording with permission but make sure for the length of time you are with the user that you are present.

Lesson four: Learn to explain yourself.

When I say, learn to explain yourself, I mean learn how to express your thoughts. I was recently in a coffee store with a friend, and they noticed I explain my thoughts better when I have a pen and paper nearby. I start to visualise my explanation, and we noticed drawing helps me understand my thoughts and conversation. I have now started carrying around a notebook for the times my thought process becomes cluttered.

In summary, You’ve got this.

I’m also going to leave you with my new favourite quote.

“If someone says it doesn’t work, I’ll be the first to say, it was worth a shot.” — David Burns

Anecdotes from a mischievous mind.