The Benefits of Pre-Sending Deliverables

Ways of Working

I was chatting with our Team Leads last week in our morning standup when our Design Director, Christine, mentioned finishing up designs for an exciting project launching soon. She talked about our plan to send designs to the client the day before the presentation for review. Hearing this reminded me of two posts I wrote early last year about creating space to think and pre-sending deliverables.

Before going remote, we used to tell ourselves that the best and only way to present early strategic and design work was in person or on a call. I have distinct memories of going to lengths to do this, even flying to San Francisco for the day.

During COVID, presenting in person was no longer an option, so everything became a Zoom call. Meeting fatigue was suddenly a hot topic among industry professionals. It seemed like every other LinkedIn post included some commentary on the subject. At Barrel, we started looking at our schedules as a team and asking:

We learned that while there was value in being on a call to frame and present our work, we were being too precious. As a result, we were unintentionally only raising the stakes of the presentation and prompting the client to react vs. give thoughtful feedback.

It was March 2021 when I wrote the post about pre-sending our work before the meeting. I circulated it to Christine and other team members to get input. Soon, we began experimenting. Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to hear it was happening consistently across the agency. I asked Christine and Kate, Director of Client Services, to share some of the benefits of taking this approach:

  • Reduces surprises: The client has more time to review the work and express any issues before the presentation. We can choose to address them ahead of time or use the call to talk it through.
  • Invites thoughtful feedback discussions and inspires action: When clients see work for the first time on a call, they often react to what they see, or if they are unhappy, wait to follow up after the call. Instead of using our time with the client to present, we can jump right into their feedback and align on actionable next steps. This approach helps eliminate project delays and cut down the timeline.
  • Promotes efficiency: Sometimes, we receive clear feedback before the presentation and decide that we can shorten our meeting or cancel it altogether. In these cases, we might even be able to get ahead on our timeline.
  • Eliminates working down to the wire: Sending work ahead of time creates a buffer between "pencils down" and presentation, giving the team more time to prepare for presenting the work. This buffer is particularly helpful for new or junior members of the team who are learning the ropes. It also reduces any pressure leading up to the presentation.

The change in process has made us better about capturing our thinking when sending over work for client consumption. While we do this mostly in writing, we have experimented with video recording, too. Looking ahead, I think there is plenty of untapped potential with video and audio for presentations, and worth continued exploration.

This post originally appeared in Edition No. 105 of my newsletter. Subscribe here.

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