Ever been in a meeting that took place in a room that was way too small? Twenty people crammed into a small office that was just conveniently unoccupied but had no air conditioning and all of that on a hot Monday morning? This environment is not really engaging a productive meeting atmosphere but rather an office version of fight club. OK, so the meeting location can be an important factor in the success of the meeting. How to go about selecting the right venue?
Selecting the Right Venue
Keeping your goal in mind is a good start to find out what kind of area you will need to settle for. Board meetings call for the boardroom but a meeting that tries to solve a problem has to have an environment which encourages creativity and being open minded. Rather technical meetings or meetings concerning the introduction of new technology or machinery are best done in the environment they will be implemented. Don’t be afraid and have a meeting on the production space to show off your company's new acquisition.
Factors to Take Into Account When Selecting the Venue?
Big windows are always a plus because they bring light into the room and have an awakening feel to them. Also there is nothing wrong with a bit of fresh oxygen every now and then.
Another circumstance to consider are chairs. The first question is if you even want to have chairs around. If they are too comfortable, it can be pretty dangerous for participants that are running on four hours of sleep and Starbucks. Standup meetings can be an good alternative, they are great for really dynamic topics and a lot of interaction. This has to be decided from meeting to meeting and topic to topic. And keep the length of the meeting in mind. Even if standing would be supportive of your goal, doing so for 2 or more hours can be pretty devastating for your team.
Needless to say, the number of participants depicts the size of your room. It shouldn‘t be packed to the rafters but having half of the chairs empty can be discouraging for some speakers.
Do I Need an External Meeting Location?
For most meetings it is advisable to keep them at your own premises. There are good reasons to meet on a external location. A meeting outside your regular meeting rooms could be of value if you want to take some mental-distance from the day-to-day issues. Another good reason for an external location would be to meet on neutral grounds for delicate issues. You wouldn’t want to start of the wrong foot over some practical matter as a location, right?
The service at the external location is important to.
Mostly the best is to keep the service in line with what is fit to the situation. You might not want a “build your own sandwich lunch” with a potential big investor. Likewise on your first meeting with a new intern it’s probably abundant to fly around the world to eat fish at a 3-start Monaco diner.
If you do meet on a external location the accessibility of the venue is a major factor too. Keep in mind that it should be reachable by all participants (car and train or bus) and that nobody will get lost before they even get to the place.
Prepare for a Great Success
If this is an important meeting, make sure you plan for it to be a great success. This is mostly about boring and practical stuff like, “Is there sufficient heating and/or air conditioning”? I’m sleeping already but let’s be honest; have you ever had a brilliant meeting while sweating in a suit or freezing in a skirt?
Do yourself and all of your speakers a favor and check the audio visual equipment in advance. Make sure you know how to operate everything and if it is compatible with Windows and Apple.
Last but not least, provide coffee and water. A must in the Dutch business world and other nationalities will be thankful as well. I personally prefer Italian espresso over those sirup-based, super efficient coffee vending machines :-)