Meetings are an important, and necessary, part of conducting business. A lot of time and effort is usually put into planning a meeting, right down to making sure you have eye-catching graphics in the presentation, a joke to get things started, and the perfect tie to wear. But what happens if that careful planning does not extend to the location of the meeting itself? If you choose the wrong location for your meeting, all of your thoughtful planning will be wasted. If your audience is not comfortable, they will not be in a receptive mood. For this reason, the location can make or break your meeting.
If you are serving refreshments, and there is only one tiny trash bin, your audience is not going to want to have to store their own trash somewhere or carry it out with them.
Arranging the Space
There are many things to think about when choosing a meeting place. Is there enough room for everyone to sit comfortably? Too little space and your audience will feel crowded and uncomfortable. Too much space and your audience will spread out, making it hard for the speaker to make eye contact and subsequently get his or her message across. A scattered audience also makes it difficult for everyone to share ideas.
Does the location provide tables and chairs? Are the chairs comfortable, or are they too small or uncomfortably hard? If this is going to be a long meeting, hard chairs may make for an uncomfortable and irritated audience. Does the arrangement of furniture allow for everyone to see the speaker and media? Are laptops going to be used, and if so, is there enough table room to use them? Check out the ventilation system as well, since a room that is too hot or too cold will make your audience uncomfortable very quickly. Along the same lines, make sure that there are no noise issues. A successful meeting cannot be held in a room that is next to where a band is practicing, or a construction site!
Now look at the resources in the room itself. Are there enough electrical outlets? What about light? If you need the room to be dark in order to view a presentation, you will need a room with either no windows or dark window coverings. Is there a microphone outlet with speakers? What about a projector screen? A podium? Does the location provide equipment such as LCD projectors, or do you need to bring your own? While you may not need these things, if you do need them, it is important that you have a location that can accommodate or provide them.
Finally, you need to consider the surrounding area. Are there restrooms available nearby? What about parking? Even something as simple as trash bins should be considered. If you are serving refreshments, and there is only one tiny trash bin, your audience is not going to want to have to store their own trash somewhere or carry it out with them. In short, make sure you have thought of everything beforehand to make your audience as comfortable as possible. That way, they can really listen and be active participants at the meeting.