Handling Turnover meetings
A turn over meeting between the designer/account person and production artist are usually pretty routine. Gather at a large table, display all the lasers and artwork, discuss what’s needed and you’re finished. Easy enough. Yet, I find in most cases the information is usually disorganized with many of the elements either jotted down in unreadable hand written notes, outdated artwork and instructions buried deep in forwarded emails consisting of a thousand replies, and CCs. On top of that, either the designer or the account person is in such a rush they have little or no time for this “procedure”. They are ready to run if they can get this meeting over with, and soon, the whole world-of-work is about to get dumped in your lap.
What to do?
Well first, be calm. This is a very important step and usually, in the end, the instructions are not as complex as they first appear. Absorb as much information as you can and make sure to take your own clear notes. Then, in my experience, there are three important steps that need to be taken before the meeting ends.
1) Ask questions
This might seem obvious but in my early career I occasionally made the mistake of not opening my mouth when I didn’t understand something. I didn’t want to look stupid. Well guess what, I started looking stupid when I started making mistakes on the job – which, by the way, could have been prevented had I simply spoken up. Better to look a little stupid at the beginning than very stupid at the end when the job is on the line. Guess what – people actually think your smarter if you are asking questions. In fact they admire people for inquiring and respect ones who ask.
2) Reiterate all the instructions that have been given to you
Do it in your own words and get to the point. You’d be surprised how many times an instruction gets missed or a communication gets interpreted wrong. Again, don’t feel rushed and skip this step. As long as you stick to the important points your reiteration should only take a few moments. You might get the eyes rolling back by the account person but once they discover one instruction has been missed or a step was interpreted wrong all their frustration will magically disappear and better communication almost always follows.
3) Last, but not least, get or set expectations and deadlines
I always find it ironic that I am the one asking when the assignment is due. So often, as a production artist, you’re told what to do, but not told how much time you have to do it. And for the record, “ASAP” is not an acceptable answer. You need a firm time to set your time goals and organize the job with all the other tasks you have on your plate. Sometimes they will ask you for timing. Be honest with them, and yourself. Give them a reasonable deadline. Maybe make it slightly shorter to challenge yourself to the task. Yet, always remind the person that you will contact them if you run across any problems that may delay the process. This gives you an out if a problem arises. It also allows you to give an honest assessment of how long a typical job would take without trying to cushion it with extra time for “potential” problems. Account people like this because it keeps them informed and they can properly communicate an issue with their client in a timely fashion.
Follow these steps and you should be more successful in completing jobs without coming across problems in the end.