“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
– Greek Philosopher Epictetus
There is nothing more important in the edutainment creative process than listening to the client. In fact, I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that active listening is foundational for a successful, long-lasting client/agency partnership.
As I noted in a previous post, strategy needs to drive creative, but to understand the client’s strategy (as well as his or her objectives and target audience), agencies must first and foremost be good listeners. To me, being a good listener means giving clients my undivided attention (no multi-tasking), letting them speak uninterrupted, and not “assuming” I know what they mean before they’ve finished speaking.
Good listening skills also involve paying attention to non-verbal clues and asking appropriate questions to ensure I truly understand what the client desires.
There’s a natural tendency for creative agencies to want to tell rather than listen, but we learn much more from being quiet and hearing what our clients have to say as they describe a new project and explain what they need from us to be successful.
When we listen attentively to what they want, we gain the information we need to deliver them a great product and achieve their desired creative outcome. While the agency creative team may not always agree with every design change the client asks them to do along the way, the agency’s overall goals should be to accommodate their clients’ needs; be a trusted, reliable creative support-team partner; and ensure their clients are happy with the final project.