If you are an established freelancer, you have most likely experienced things that have taught you the importance of using contracts with clients, if you are a new freelancer who has taken the time to do your research you have read about the importance of using a contract as a freelancer. As a freelancer, I have seen first hand how having a great contract can help to maintain great client relationships and to avoid misunderstandings of any kind. A great (not complicated) contract helps to hold you and your clients to your words, encouraging an open and honest relationship.
The fear of complicating things or having to spend money on a lawyer to create a great and clear contract often discourages new and sometimes established freelancers from making a contractual agreement a priority. The reality is that having a simple agreement is better than nothing at all. There are some awesome free and premium templates available online that can be edited to fit your personal needs in minutes.
Most of us go into freelancing because we want to enjoy the flexibility of working from anywhere we want. We are drawn in by the fantasy of a calmer working atmosphere, it is, therefore, our duty to ensure that we keep our work life as stress-free as we possibly can. Having a contract goes a long way to creating and to maintaining that environment.
Crafting a simple and yet effective contract is not hard to do as long as you understand what matters most to you as a Freelancer and what you expect from not only yourself but your clients. Below is a list of 5 Freelance Contract must-haves to simplify your life as a Freelancer.
What is the project?
Clear communication with your client to understand what they need and how they expect you to deliver it is important. I love to ask questions in the early stages that will allow me to have a clear understanding of the scope of the work.
Be as clear as possible with the What of the project. Have a clear understanding of what you are expected to deliver and allowing the client time to go over the contract will also ensure that they have a clear understanding of how you interpreted their need and vision.
*Be diligent in understanding your client. Is your client going to follow your workflow from beginning to end, or are they going to hand it over and wait for you to reach out after the completion of the work? Understanding your client will allow you to be more effective in building a long lasting relationship with the client, but more importantly, it will allow you to get the job done in a way that will please them.
The last thing that you want to happen is for your client to suddenly decide to change your deadline. If you are like me, you may map out your process or create a workflow that will help you to work effectively (A great idea for those who juggle multiple clients, or manage teams)
A client suddenly deciding to change the date can completely unhinge your process. Including all agreed deadlines in the contract will help you to deal with unnecessary stress. A great tip from Vinay Jay is to assign deadlines to each phase if your project is broken up into phases.
Simply working on a whim can complicate things unnecessarily for you and your client.
Do not forget to mention how much you will be paid for your work!
Clarify the terms of payments, whether you are being paid hourly, bi-weekly, or a lump sum for a specific task. Do you have a specific day in mind that you should be paid?
Write it down, be as clear as possible about fees, etc.
Timing of Payments
*Is payment due After the work has been delivered?
Is payment due the same day that the invoice is delivered?
What are your late fees, do you have late fees?
Do you expect to be paid in advance, if so, how much, and when?*
All these are some of the things that you should consider the moment that you begin speaking to your client. Clarify and write it down once you have both agreed to something that works.
Clarity and Simplicity
If the goal is to create a long-term relationship with your clients, then I find that being as clear as possible in the beginning helps to set a solid foundation for a great and long lasting relationship. That clarity is expressed through a simple contract.
Complicated is not always the best way to go, especially when you are trying to create a contract.
Being clear and simple will result in less questions and will allow both parties to have an understanding of what they are signing up for.
Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.
You have to work hard to develop the right skills
If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.
1. Make your presentation short and sweet
With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.
JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.
2. Open up with a good ice breaker
At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:
Tugging on their heart strings
Dropping a bombastic statement
Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons
You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.
3. Keep things simple and to the point
Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.
4. Use a healthy dose of humor
Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.
It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.
5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting
Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.
6. Practice your delivery
Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.
7. Move around and use your hands
Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.
8. Engage the audience by making them relate
Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.
9. Use funny images in your slides
Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.
10. End on a more serious note
When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.