There are many things to consider that will determine what needs to be included in your setup. Although this may seem like a trivial step, you should not take it for granted. The difference from an okay meeting to a remarkable meeting could be the small details. Let us begin with the basics.
The Basic Essentials
Having a predefined list for setting up your meeting is a useful tool and we are going to discuss the setup of your meeting using a handout over the next three lessons. In the first section, you will see a simple list of items comprising of the basic essentials in setting up the meeting space. The list consists of the following items:
- Sufficient number of tables and chairs
- Power strips for laptops and other electronic devices
- Audio and visual set up
- Whiteboard with markers and eraser
- Verify the room temperature is comfortable
- Microphone for large meetings
- Verify room is located in quiet and private area
Make sure you get to the meeting place early enough, giving you time to set up the room without the participants seeing you do it. Getting “caught” setting up the room gives the impression that you are unprepared, which could affect your meeting environment.
The Extra Touches
Extra touches make your meeting more meaningful to your participants. Let’s review some of the extra touches:
- Name tents already printed and set up on the tables
- Table with name tags for each participant already printed
- Projector on with a welcome message illuminating on the screen
- Signage outside the meeting room professionally done
- Keepsake or logo item at each place setting
- Music before the meeting starts and during breaks
- Folder with all meeting materials inside (i.e. agenda, handouts, etc.)
- Candy or mints on the tables
- Posters or visual aids posted around the meeting room (professionally done looks better)
- Video playing relevant materials on the screen before the meeting starts
- Coat rack during winter months
When it comes to adding the extra touches, be sure to gauge the audience and meeting purpose and plan accordingly. You do not want to create a celebratory experience when the meeting is about cutting costs, etc. Otherwise, going the extra mile helps to make your meeting more effective by creating a personalized environment.
Choosing a Physical Arrangement
The types of activities that are involved in your meeting could help you determine the physical setup. However, before you think further on this topic, let us review some basic setups.
Conference style seating: this is the basic long rectangular or oval shaped table. This type of setup is good for short meetings with less than 30 participants. You would use this for small training sessions and close interactions.
U-shape seating: this is a setup where the tables form a U shape. This is effective where face-to-face interaction is desired. This set up also accommodates larger groups.
T-Shape seating: this design sets up the tables in a T shape. This is also used for face-to-face and large group meetings; however, this shape allows for a leader to sit at the cross point.
Classroom style seating: this type of seating is best when learning is going to take place and the participants need to take notes. This style can be used for both large and small groups.
Knowing the various styles of seating arrangements helps to determine which to use based on the activity. Below are some suggestions:
- Planning meeting: conference style seating
- Product sales training: classroom style seating
- Strategy sharing meeting: T-shape style seating
- Project update meeting: U-shape style seating
The physical arrangement of the meeting room should always focus on providing a comfortable set up where all participants are able to view the presenter, other participants, screens, and flipchart and whiteboards.