The Ultimate Conference Room Planning Guide [How to Plan Your Next Meeting]
Rise and Return of In-person Meetings
Virtual meetings certainly became the norm for many businesses and professionals during the pandemic. But with many returning to some form of offices—coworking space and day offices, hybrid work arrangements, and permanent office space—in-person meetings are fast returning. Paul Axtell, the author of Meetings Matter: Designing Conversations That Work, argues they are an important business enabler: “In-person meetings provide a sense of intimacy, connection, and empathy that is difficult to replicate via video. It’s much easier to ask for attentive listening and presence, which creates the psychological safety that people need to sense in order to engage and participate fully.”
Meetings—both virtual and in person—remain a point of contention for many workers. A report by LiveCareer that surveyed 1,000 professionals and found that the average worker spends at least three hours weekly in meetings and four hours preparing for each—which adds up to 15 hours in total. Of the meetings attended, 71% are considered unproductive.
There are a number of factors cited as causes for this dismal outcomes. Many of them are legitimate issues: meetings that are too long, lack of preparation by attendees, too many or the wrong type of attendees, missing agendas, attendees going off topic, and poor meeting managers and facilitators, among others.
Conference rooms play an important role in the success of a business meeting. They help you make your meetings run more smoothly; they are quiet, private spaces where people feel happy sharing information and ideas. They also convey a positive first impression for meeting participants.
Conference Room Planning List
As businesses and professionals ramp up in scheduling in-person meetings, the following are some of the key elements that need to be included in planning the use of a conference room.
Determine Your Meeting Type
The type of meeting taking place should determine the type of conference room that you need to reserve. A board meeting requires a different conference room than one used for a prospect meeting. A team training event is different than a merger and acquisition meeting. Some of the meeting types that take place in conference rooms include:
• Employee all-hand events
• Quarterly business reviews
• Prospect meetings
• Customer meetings
• Partner meetings
• Board meetings
• Annual company strategic planning
• Merger and acquisition discussions
These include the location of the conference room, administrative services such as faxing, notary services, and photocopying, and catering services, the size of the conference room, presentation tools, video conferencing capabilities, and others.
Sizing and Seating Logistics in the Conference Room
The size of a conference room is important in terms of the number of participants attending as well as collaboration and interactions that are planned. The shape of the table might even be important for certain meeting types (e.g., a round table might be an ideal configuration for a board meeting or a meeting where a lot of collaboration is taking place, whereas an oval table might be better for a meeting focused on a presentation). For a meeting where a lot of interaction and collaboration is planned, a conference room with adequate space for attendees to walk around and form small groups throughout the meeting may be important. Finally, in a post-pandemic world, meeting planners need to pay attention to spacing between chairs.
High-speed Internet in the Conference Room
Most meeting presenters and participants require internet that is reliable and fast. Meeting organizations need to ensure attendees do not spend valuable time searching for the Wi-Fi network and password upon arriving in a conference room. Meeting organizations need to identify the Wi-Fi network and password beforehand and write it on the whiteboard in the conference room beforehand.
LCD Monitors and Projectors in the Conference Room
Nearly every meeting requires LCD monitors and projects in the conference room. Those who schedule meetings need to ensure the meeting room has both and moreover they know how to operate them. Nothing is worse than for presenters to spend the first five minutes of a meeting trying to get their laptop connected to the presentation technology in the conference room.
Catering and Beverage Services Available in the Conference Room
Depending on the meeting type and the length of a meeting, you may need to plan to have beverages available or even breakfast, lunch, or dinner served. When holding your meeting in a rented conference room, it is important to ensure that catering and beverage services are available. And when food is to be served, it is important to accommodate dietary restrictions and serve food options that align with the needs of all meeting participants.
Whiteboard and Collaboration Tools in Conference Rooms
Productive meetings typically require significant whiteboard space for collaboration and ideation. For some rented conference spaces and even company conference rooms, meeting participants can write on the walls of the room or on glass tabletops. If the meeting is intended as a strategy session, meeting planners need to ensure that the conference room offers sufficient whiteboard space for capturing all of the interactions that occur in the meeting.
Business Services Available for Conference Room Participants
Business services such as faxing, photocopying, mailing, and notary services are not needed for every meeting. But for some, business services are a requirement. Meeting planners need to ensure that the conference room they reserve comes with these business services.
Lobby Greeting for Conference Rooms
For conference rooms in a permanent office space, the presence of a lobby greeter is determined by the host company. But for rented conference rooms, lobby greeters are provided by some providers like Davinci Meeting Rooms. In these instances, lobby greeters are able to direct meeting participants to the location of the conference room, answer questions about parking, rest rooms, internet access, and more.
The Rented Conference Rooms Checklist
While many businesses and professionals returned to permanent office spaces with conference rooms during the past year, not all have chosen to do so. Growing numbers are embracing coworking space and day offices, jettisoning permanent office space altogether or downsizing the amount of permanent office space and time spent in it. This is where rented conference rooms like Davinci Meeting Rooms are important. They offer businesses and professionals a flexible meeting environment in a professional location that garners a positive brand impression.
Simply finding a rented conference room is not enough. Rather, just as meeting planners go through a checklist of things to do before the meeting takes place, they need to go through a conference room planning check list. Both are important steps to making a business meeting a big success.