According to a study conducted by the National Statistics Council, the average corporate employee spends 37% of their work hours in meetings. With more than one third of our day spent in meeting rooms, making the time count is crucial. Physical meeting space plays a massive role in determining how productive our collaboration time is. We’ve put together an essential meeting room checklist of all the factors and tools you should consider when planning a meeting.
- Size: Size is one of the most important room qualities to consider when choosing a meeting space. Too small and your attendees will feel cramped, distracted, and unable to collaborate like they need to. Too big and it can have a dramatic impact on acoustics and affect your participants’ ability to hear what’s going on and contribute to the conversation.
- Shape: One of the most commonly forgotten factors when picking a meeting space, especially when doing so sight unseen, is room shape. The shape can be a major factor in your attendees’ ability to see your visual aids or presentation materials. Other room design inconsistencies such as pillars can impact the amount of usable square-footage too.
- Furniture: Proper posture and comfort is essential for keeping your meeting participants focused and on-task for what can sometimes be multi-hour sessions. Meeting room seating and tables should be comfortable and flexible, able to be configured to the layout most conducive to your session’s goals.
- Layout: Though a long conference table with seating on opposite sides is usually the configuration most of us think of for meetings, more communication-focused arrangements like U-shape or team pods can actually be more conducive to promoting productivity and allow attendees to better interact with one another.
- Lighting: Poor, artificial lighting in your meeting space can drastically impact meeting outcomes and productivity. It can increase drowsiness and fatigue, strain employees’ eyes, and even trigger health issues like migraines and headaches. Make sure your meeting space has sufficient natural light.
- Climate: Room temperature has a massive impact on meeting effectiveness. When the body is too hot or too cold, the brain loses its ability to focus. In fact, a study conducted by Cornell University found that having chilly employees can increase labor costs by as much as 10%. Make sure your meeting facility or room has its own thermostat so that the temperature of your space can be tuned as needed.
- Privacy: Before you pick a meeting room, consider the sensitivity of the information you'll be working with. Events such as pre-release product meetings, investor gatherings, and HR conferences require privacy. Many dedicated meeting facilities use partitions or "air walls" to divide a larger room into smaller spaces. Though flexible, these solutions can also have poor sound deadening or gaps. If your event requires privacy, make sure the space is safe from prying eyes and ears.
- Presentation Tools: If you’re the one hosting the meeting, you’ll need to make sure you have all of the resources (especially visual ones) needed to the communicate the ideas you’re bringing to the table. The most common presentation tools are projectors and screens, flip charts, and whiteboards. (Don’t forget your laptop to hook up to the projector as well.)
- Brainstorming Tools: Even though virtual meeting technology has come a long way, it still can’t compare to the collaboration power of putting your whole team in the same room and hashing things out together. Writing your thoughts down as a group on a whiteboard, dry erase meeting table, or on a shared virtual document is a great way to work through ideas. (Make sure you bring the markers and laptops!)
- Note Taking Stuff: Being able to move ideas from the planning and decision stages to real-world implementation is perhaps the most important part of any meeting. Why hold a meeting if the conversation and ideas evaporate once everyone leaves the room? Have someone keep a written record of meeting minutes or record audio or video of the session to make sure nothing gets lost or forgotten about.
- Connectivity: In today’s meeting room, internet connectivity is a must-have. It allows attendees to pull up any meeting materials they need on the spot, stream relevant videos and content, and connect with other meeting attendees who might not be on site. When inquiring about your meeting venue’s internet connection, be sure to ask about speed and bandwidth. If you’re going to be streaming a lot of video, or internet is vital to your meeting, ask about getting a dedicated connection for your event.
- Video Conferencing Tech: Video communication and virtual collaboration tools have come a long way in recent years. High-definition video and audio quality now means that those attending the meeting remotely can contribute just as much as their on-site counterparts. Ensuring your meeting room can support virtual meeting attendance is essential to making sure everyone can contribute to the end goal of your project, no matter where they are.
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