From time to time, we all find ourselves facing embarrassing meeting dilemmas. Even if you have spent weeks preparing for a meeting, there is still a risk of the unexpected happening. The best way to deal with embarrassment is to keep calm, laugh it off with everyone and carry on. To help you succeed, here are 7 of the most embarrassing meeting dilemmas and how to deal with them.
- Unable to login to guest Wi-Fi
If you are unable to login to your client’s Wi-Fi, our first suggestion is to let them know. They may have a tech support employee on-site, who can provide you with assistance. Alternatively you could try using the hotspot on your phone (if you have one) or logging into a hotspot service like BT Fon. Whilst the connection won’t be as speedy as your client’s, it’ll enable you to get the meeting done with minimal disruption and embarrassment.
- Corrupted presentation
It can be a real pain when you insert your USB into the projector, only to find that your PowerPoint presentation has corrupted. You could save yourself a lot of embarrassment by printing off paper copies of the slides prior to the meeting. If however you have not adequately prepared for this unforeseen dilemma, keep calm and think how you can change the approach of your meeting, whilst still getting the points across. You never know, a more informal / chatty meeting may end up being more productive anyway.
- Can’t find their office
If you cannot find the client’s office, we would first advise you to give them a call and let them know. It is far less embarrassing to ask for directions than turn up late. If by the end of the phone call you have forgotten the directions and can’t ask again, use Google Maps or another map app on your smartphone. If there is any chance of you being late, make sure you phone ahead and inform your client and apologise profoundly when you eventually arrive.
- You have met them before but are unsure where
It can be really embarrassing when you feel like you know their face from somewhere, but cannot pinpoint where or when you met them. To avoid further embarrassment, we recommend keeping it to yourself, rather than asking them if you’ve met before. This will prevent you from 1) embarrassing them 2) delving into an informal and inappropriate conversation and 3) becoming further embarrassed when you realise you haven’t actually met them before.
If they recognise you and bring it up, just go along with it and say it’s good to see them again. If it turns out you’re old friends, you can have a laugh about it later!
- Phone goes off
It is polite to turn your phone off in a meeting to show them that they have your full attention. If for one reason or another you forget to put your phone on silent and you receive a call, apologise immediately and end the call.
It will help if you have set up an automated message on your smartphone that can be sent to your caller to explain you are in a meeting and will ring them back afterwards. Whilst you will feel embarrassed that you interrupted the meeting with an incoming phone call, at least it’ll make you look in demand!
- Forget your wallet and can’t pay the bill
One of the most embarrassing meeting situations you can get yourself into is forgetting your wallet at a lunch meeting, leaving you unable to pay the bill. The key is not to panic. Think about how you can handle the situation without having to resort to asking them to pay for you. Excuse yourself from the table and speak to one of the waiters to find out if they would accept a PayPal or bank transfer that you can carry out using an app on your smartphone. Alternatively, if you know your debit or credit card details or could phone someone back at your office to read them to you, ask your waiter if you can pay that way instead.
The last thing you want to do is ask your client to pay for you, as not only is it embarrassing, but it will also make you look forgetful and unorganised.
- Client is surprised by the price you quote
Discussing quotes in person is one of those things that many people dread doing. There is always a risk that they will be one of those people that say they’re unhappy upfront, rather than taking the quote away for consideration and sending an email back later. If they do appear to be taken back by the price you’ve quoted them, have a breakdown of the costs to hand.
When people get embarrassed they often get defensive. Try to keep calm – you don’t need to justify your costs if the client is pushing their luck. If however they genuinely seem surprised by your prices and you want their business, you may want to consider enquiring about their budget and seeing if there is a way you can tailor your product or services to meet it. Handling the situation with grace and going the extra mile for your client will go a long way in gaining their loyalty and repeat business.
Image credits: mitopencourseware, marsmet473a and danielmoyle
****For this post, Campus to Career thanks Nick Williams!!****
About the author: Nick is a training assistant at Acuity Training in Guildford, Surrey. Acuity offer chairing meetings training as well as technical training such as advanced AutoCAD courses.