by   Steve Roche

Meeting location

Think about meetings of a similar type that you have attended. What worked, and what didn’t?

Ask yourself these questions to help decide how to set up the location...

  • Do people need to see all the other attendees?
  • Do they only need to see the speaker?
  • Do they need to have a desk to write on?
  • Do they need space for bags and briefcases?
  • How long will they be sitting down?
  • Will some people need to come and go during proceedings?
  • Does everybody need to hear everything?
  • Do you want an air of formality?
  • Does the agenda call for breakout groups or small group discussions?
  • Does the room layout need to be different for different items on the agenda?

Change the set-up according to whether you want people to relax, or think, or operate differently from usual. If you are aiming for creativity, for example, you might begin things differently:

  • Hold it in an unusual setting
  • Move the furniture (for example, chairs in a circle with the tables behind)
  • Change the lighting, invite casual dress
  • Greet people in a relaxed and friendly way as they come in
  • Have toys or things to play with on the table to keep hands busy and stimulate right-brain associative thinking.

Depending on the circumstances, you might even consider not using a meeting room at all. Consider a table at a nearby café, or in a nearby park.

Meetings that are held regularly easily become stale, which often leads to them getting stuck. You can use the meeting location to add change. To make meetings more effective, get there early to see how you can change the set-up of the room – especially how the furniture is arranged.

Consider what you need to do to allow people to be comfortable and focus on the job at hand.

  • Make sure there is water available
  • Ensure that you can control the temperature and lighting so that people can properly concentrate
  • Do what you can about potential distractions
  • noise
  • visual distractions outside a window
  • uncomfortable chairs

The real key here is to consider the location in the light of the goal of the meeting. Ask yourself what you can do to encourage progress towards the goal, and then experiment to get feedback.