Meetings might not be workers’ favorite thing, but for now they remain a nonnegotiable part of life in many companies. When you’re the one in charge of preparing a space for a meeting, especially a big one, you have a lot of responsibility. The choices you make can have a big impact on the success of the discussion. Here’s how to set the stage to make sure every attendee gets something out of the meeting.
- Don’t wait until the last minute.
While you might assume that setting up a room for a gathering is a simple and easy task, there is a little more to it than is immediately obvious. So, be sure to leave plenty of time to get the job done.
- Be specific about your requirements, if you are counting on another organization to help you.
If you’re meeting in an outside facility, you might think that telling the organizers at that location how many people will be attending the meeting is enough information to pass along, but it isn’t. If you have specific requests, like how you’d like tables and chairs arranged, clearly articulate them. Then, follow up to be sure everything is in proper order before the meeting is scheduled to begin, allowing for time to make adjustments if needed.
Similarly, if you’re renting tables and/or chairs for the event, simply passing on the number of anticipated attendees won’t cut it. Be sure to ask for either round or rectangular tables, depending on your preference, and be sure you understand how many people each of the tables seats. Also, consider the room where you’ll be setting up when make a selection, in order to ensure that everything will fit the way you’re imagining.
- Be there for the set-up.
If you have help from coworkers or an outside organization, still be sure to be there for the actual arrangement of the space. Don’t simply delegate the responsibility and feel you can walk away.
- If there is a podium, place that first, then arrange the rest.
If you are planning to utilize a podium, it will be the most important aspect of the arrangement. So, place it first and then set up everything else accordingly.
- Be sure that all technology is up and running in advance.
We’ve all experienced those endless moments when difficulties with technology delayed the start or the progression of the meeting. It’s frustrating, a waste of time, and a distraction from the topic and focus of the meeting itself. So, take special care to ensure that you have these bases covered. Speak with presenters in advance in order to assess their needs, and gather the necessary parts and attachments, and then take steps to ensure that everything is up and running smoothly before the meeting gets started.
- Think about visibility.
When arranging the seats for the meeting, your primary goal is to be sure that everyone will be able to see what the presenter wants them to be able to see, whether that’s a screen, the podium itself, or both. In any case, this is an important part of the set-up process, maybe the most important, so take it seriously.
To find out if everyone has good visibility, you’ll have to try out a few different vantage points. The only way to really know if you can see well from a specific spot is to sit there and see for yourself. It may take a little longer this way, and you may feel a little silly, but actually trying out the chair and table arrangement is the only way to know if it’s really working or not.
- If possible, consider arranging for the discussions and activities of the meeting.
Sometimes, we’re fortunate enough to know the content of the meeting at hand. Understanding specifics could help you make better decisions in your arrangement of the space. For example, if you know that attendees are going to break into small groups for discussion very often during the meeting, you might want to go with round tables. On the other hand, if there will usually be one main speaker at a time with others being asked to contribute from their seat, perhaps arranging rectangular tables in a U-shape would work best. (When in doubt, orienting everyone toward a central focus spot, like a podium, will work most of the time.)
- Can you schedule it for a Tuesday?
You may only have control over the space in which the meeting will occur, but if by some chance you’re also in charge of the timing, try to schedule the meeting for a Tuesday. Research has found that Tuesday afternoon is the best time for a meeting, around 2:30 p.m. specifically. Workers already have a handle on their weeks by this point, and they’re also not feeling as fatigued as they will by later in the day or week.
- Expect some things to go wrong.
As with any event, some things are bound to go wrong during the set-up process. If you expect that, it might make it a little easier, especially if you allow extra time and energy to straighten out the mishaps. If you can get everything together for this gathering and maintain a positive attitude throughout, you’ve won before the meeting has even begun.
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