Holding a successful business meeting not only involves the content and members of the meeting, but also the arrangement of the furniture. To effectively arrange a room for a business meeting you’ll want to consider the function of the meeting and create the appropriate atmosphere and workspace for productivity. If the room is well arranged for your meeting, associates will be able to work and function without disruption or distraction to fully make use of the meeting time available.
Consider the function of the room and place tables accordingly. A discussion-style meeting should use a round-table style by arranging tables into a circle or semicircle so each participant can see everyone else. Presentations can use a boardroom set up with one large rectangle or place smaller tables in rows with each participant facing the same direction.
Arrange your seating around the tables according to your table layout using comfortable chairs suitable for the length of the meeting. Hard plastic chairs should only be used for short (hour or less) meetings to keep employees focused and comfortable. Place two to three extra chairs to the side of the room in case there are more guests than anticipated or a chair breaks.
Place any props such as podiums, flip charts, projector screens or presentation posters in a clearly visible area in the front of the room so each participant can see it easily. If you’ll be using handouts or folders, place them at each chair along the table, or set them off to the side for distributing later in the meeting. Don’t allow these items to clutter the work space or make moving within the room difficult, such as stacking them on the floor.
Turn off the ringer on any phones in the room to avoid disruption; however, do not unplug the phone to allow for outgoing calls in case of an emergency. If computers are used for the meeting, bundle any cables with zip ties to avoid tangling with feet and tape any cords to the floor that run across walkways.
Add additional lighting beyond overhead lighting to the room to soften the atmosphere and make longer meetings less visually straining. Set lamps on side tables where they won’t be in the way or blocking views, but avoid candles, which may emit soft light and fragrance but can pose a hazard.
Set up a small food service area in a corner of the room or along a wall near the doorway to supply bottled water, sodas, coffee or snack foods such as cookies, brownies, or fruit and meat trays. If using food for long meetings, avoid high-sugar foods, and make sure there is a trashcan nearby the service area to keep the table clear and tidy when meal time is over.
If you have the option of selecting the meeting room, try to find a quiet room away from excess noise and distractions while still placing the meeting room convenient to bathrooms on the same floor of the building.
If possible, adjust the thermostat in the room to a comfortable setting so those attending aren’t too hot or cold, making for discomfort and distraction where they won’t be able to focus on the task at hand.
- “Successful Meetings”; Shri L. Henkel; 2007
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