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  • Robert Leach

The power of using graphic designed placemats (tablemats) for business

I am frequently requested by clients to design and produce A4/A3 placemats for various business meetings and communications. Clients rely on this simple device to illustrate a wide variety of information in an easy to read, easy to digest document. Clients like the flexibility of this template format which can be quickly customised for specific requirements in PowerPoint, then sent to a studio for a graphic design make-over. Following this a final product would be printed in-house, externally printed or emailed as a pdf, giving the graphic designed placemat a wide spectrum of business communication uses for companies.


Meeting specific graphic designed placemat content:

A selection of placemat topics:

· Agenda

· An introduction to the todays team

· Team structure

· About our company

· Case studies

· Project progress report

· Quarterly review

· Financial highlights/report

· Specific service offering

· Overview of proposed strategy

· Research analysis report

· Company structure and departments

· Internal services and cross-selling guides

· Market breakdown and intel

· Legal update information

· Property portfolio

· Product sales.

Boardroom collateral

The idea behind a placemat or tablemat is to have one positioned in front of each chair on a board room for a specific meeting, so when the meeting attendees sit down and get comfortable they can immediately review the carefully structured printed document to delivery key points your company wishes them to take onboard. The document should be engaging and something that holds their interest and has enough value for them to take away to further drive your companies message once the meeting has ended.

Supersised business card

A good example of a placemat would be to have an agenda as a large heading, setting out the proposed meetings discussion points, this could take up one third of the space, followed by another one third with an overview of previous target objective successes and supporting diagrams. The last third could be left for a notes section inviting attendees to write their own meeting notes down for further thoughts and have them take the document away with them, working as a supersized business card.

Your team today is….

Another popular request is a team sheet, a great way of introducing a proposed team for any given project or a new team structure hierarchy, either for a prospective new company you wish to work with or an existing company in order to introduce new departmental staff and project members. The reverse can be dedicated to team bios for key team members or if you have a larger A3 sheet, more details for the wider core team members. Different team sheets can be customised to respond to different client briefs and highlight your team member abilities to respond to their requirements. An option to have key members and bios on the front and departmental structure of a much wider team on the back, if these are saved as email-able pdfs, they can have contact cards included in the attachment list or hyperlinks to your website page for each team bio.

Top-of-mind

A smart, branded placemat could include all the team contacts which could be taken away and pinned to the client’s workspace wall for quick reference and to reinforce you company’s presence with ‘Top-of-mind’ and the ‘Go-to-company’. It will help putting a face to a name when they need to engage other members of a wider team in your company.

Quarterly results

Clients who want to report financial performance results can use a placemat as a quick meeting overview document, perhaps in conjunction with more detailed documents for more in depth analysis. This quick overview approach spotlights key financial highlights in an easily to digest format that can really make a difference in a meeting to achieve a goal of understanding.

Questionnaire

Your branded event placemat could contain a questionnaire element to be returned after the training course or seminar, perhaps a tear-off section could be retained by the delegate reminding them of the key points made during the learning sessions.

As easy as pie

Along with authors copy, clients can send various Excel pie charts or hand drawn diagrams and charts for inclusion to illustrate their documents. These diagrams and charts might need a simple clean-up within Excel or PowerPoint or reformatted, rebuilt and styled in Adobe Illustrator and imported as professional looking graphics. Presenting data-driven graphics greatly enhances the documents appeal and engages with its audience more. Often the content presented to build a placemat from is very dry, so any headline figures that can be made large and eye catching along with text and quoted callouts may be some elements that can be brought out as a graphic illustration.

Pre-meeting appetiser

Placemats can be emailed out to clients in the form of a pdf with customised hyperlinks for contact details or your website with specific team bios, even more useful in the present Covid lockdowns and meetings via video conference. Other documents can be attached within the pdf for further information. Passwords can be enabled for certain sensitive documents.

Document support

Many Business Development and Marketing Teams use MS PowerPoint as the main go-to-application for content drafting ready for circulation, before final approval and a graphic design make-over. In-house teams are very familiar with this software for producing presentations for meetings, seminars and training events, so working directly with them in the same software they use is invaluable and many companies appreciate the design integration with their teams. This workflow allows a draft to go from rough to finished and then passed back to the team, they can continue to finesse the content prior to an urgent meeting.

External printed placemat

Longer deadlines can mean the production of more complex bespoke printed placemats on better stock with a more professional finished product, these can look superior to in-house colour copier printed documents, these documents are produced in Adobe InDesign for professional CMYK external printing. Using a DTP program for graphic design and graphic artwork gives clients the option to have clever folds, either short folds or medium ones for reveals or a full 4 pages brochure style. Handing over documents to external printers have time critical issues, so document approval stages need to be adhered to so there are zero scares before an important meeting.

Kitchen sink option…

Placemats are for a quick dip and easy view of targeted information, the desire to fill every space with more information is to be avoided. If more information is needed, then opting for printing both sides or print A3 for 140% larger area to display more content. Perhaps print multiple subject based placemats as a series, especially useful for financial report discussions.

Representing your company

Each branded placemat becomes an ambassador for your company, selling services and your industry skills, along with useful contacts long after the initial meeting has ended, people can keep the printout for future reference, and hopefully the start of a long working relationship. Your prospective client might have a collection of other company’s placemats for comparison, make sure your placemat has an engaging design and stand-out content.

Content is king!

Clients may already have an A4 placemat template layout in PowerPoint or a pdf to show style and may ask to have new content updated or clients may want to try their design in a placemat style document to showcase in an up-coming meeting. Content can be submitted in many forms, from hand drawn layouts to almost finished PowerPoint documents. Copy may also be given in the form of MS Word, emailed text or hand written, data driven charts and diagrams in Excel or pdfs, images taken from legacy sources and client drawn mock-ups, all of which need to be managed and presented back to them in a professional looking document showcasing their brand.

Work-back schedule for deadlines

Simple template updates with new copy can be turned around in very little time (depending on team approval processes) more complex versions with detailed graphics can take longer. ‘Start from scratch’ designs with new clients can take considerably longer with perfecting a graphic design template then applying ongoing ‘actual’ content.

Make your next meeting memorable

So, let us design your next business meeting placemat and any other proposal style documents for an upcoming meeting, on brand and on time. Let us show you what is possible within your brand guidelines to spice up your documents. Generation Pixel has had many years creating deadline critical proposal documents for professional service companies, often producing long brochure style documents along with accompanying documents.

There will be more about our proposal services in the next blog.

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