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Do you say the right thing at the right time?

Posted by Ilise Benun on


Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

There is one skill without which it is almost impossible to succeed as a professional creative: clear communication, especially with clients.

This does not come naturally to anyone.

But there are a few people I admire who — somehow — always seem to know exactly what to say at exactly the right moment. It seems like magic, but I can assure you it is not. How do they do it?

Here’s what I’ve learned by watching:

  1. It starts with listening. You have to know whom you’re taking to. You can’t say the same thing to everyone and expect the same response. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. Each person has a different filter through which they listen and if you can figure out what that is, you are more likely to find a way to communicate your message through it.
  2. Then put yourself in their shoes. Imagine their day to day experience, the pressure they may be under, the people they report to, the state of their email inbox. Then try asking yourself why they may not be doing what you want them to do.
  3. Finally, come up with a few options to choose from. Use your creativity and your imagination to come up with at least 3 different alternatives to say what you need to say. (Make sure one is in the form of a question.) Then, based on #2 (above), choose the one that you think is most likely to penetrate. If you’re wrong, you’ll know soon enough and hopefully will learn for next time how to do it better.

I’ve learned this over the years from my teachers and, of course, by making lots of mistakes. Oddly, there is very little training on this topic that is tailored to creatives, even in many art and design schools. But I see that changing. And I’m glad to part of that change.

I hope you will join me starting Monday, Sept. 12 2016 at Pratt Institute (Manhattan) for a course called, Effective Client Communication Strategies for the Creative. This course is part of the Pratt Institute School of Continuing Professional Studies brand new (and much needed) certificate program, Business Communication for the Creative Professional.

Present yourself and your creative work professionally!

This unique program is designed to prepare creative professionals to effectively present themselves and their skills as indispensable agents, providing the best solutions to clients’ problems in today’s digital market place. Strategically position yourself and communicate your own or other creative businesses’ compelling stories to attract and keep ideal clients. This certificate is for anyone whose responsibility includes communications in creative enterprises, including artistic and cultural organizations, design and architectural firms, entertainment, advertising, publishing, and other professional areas.

Other courses in the program will be taught by Rhonda Schaller, Justine Clay and Kelly Trager, include:

  • Positioning Yourself to Your Ideal Clients
  • Compelling Business Writing
  • The Art of Contracts and Negotiation
  • Public Speaking for the Professional
  • Design Thinking, Emotional Intelligence, and Mindful Communication
  • Communication Across Cultures

Find details and registration here.


  • More in: Announcements, Business communication, communication skills for creative professionals, Posts by Ilise, Pratt, Pratt Institute, Speaking

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