Remember when you were in school and the weather outside was absolutely perfect? Sunny skies, mid-70’s, slight breeze — the kind of weather that makes it a beautiful day to be outside. You’d stare longingly out the window, missing the lesson, completely distracted by what was outside. All of a sudden, the teacher stops teaching, tells the class to gather their books, and continues the class outside. This is the definition of “reading the room.”
That same distraction exists in the real world. Whether you’re hosting a meeting for a small team or a large group, moving a meeting to a more engaging environment can help create an atmosphere that encourages listening, interaction, productivity, and information retention.
Here are some engaging meeting spaces to consider for your next meeting:
Most coworking spaces are equipped with unique amenities and spaces that can break up the monotony of a typical conference room or event space. You’ll also find that many have space for large groups and smaller breakout sessions, and can often be booked for smaller fees than a typical conference space.
Libraries are a great place to host meetings that require focus and concentration. The quiet atmosphere and abundance of resources make them ideal for brainstorming sessions, study groups, and other meetings that require deep thought.
Museums are a great place to host meetings that require creativity and inspiration. The unique exhibits and artifacts can spark new ideas and help your team see the world in a new way.
Follow the teacher’s example and head outside! Obviously technology can be limited, so invite attendees to bring their laptops or smartphones and send any materials they might need digitally. Not only will you get some fresh air, you’ll have plenty of activities to do during breaks. Just be sure you’re watching the weather and have a plan in place to move it back inside.
How cool would it be to take a break from your meeting and say hello to the elephants? Hosting your meeting at a zoo allows attendees to have things to look forward to throughout the day that break up the monotony of a conference room. Plus, who could possibly forget seeing lions on their lunch break?
Planning Your Meeting
By choosing the right space to host your meeting, you can create an environment that is stimulating and productive. However, there are some important considerations to make sure the meeting is as effective as possible.
Size of your group. Make sure you choose a venue that is large enough to accommodate your group, but not so large that it feels empty. If you’re planning on having breakout sessions or team-building activities, make sure there are plenty of spaces for your attendees to be comfortable and productive and considerate of others around them.
Purpose of the meeting. If you’re hosting a brainstorming session, you’ll need a space that is conducive to creativity. If you’re primarily making presentations, you’ll want to find a space that has good acoustics and A/V equipment available.
Consider your budget. Though finding a unique space can make your meeting more valuable for your attendees, it can also set you back. Costs can vary widely — rental fees, exclusive refreshment and meal contracts (translation: you can’t bring in your own food), internet access, and parking are all additional expenses you may need to consider.
Be sure to book in advance. If it’s a great space, there’s a chance it will be highly sought after. So make sure you’ve got your venue secured before you plan your meeting around it.
Meetings can be a drag. They can be long, boring, and unproductive. But they don’t have to be. By finding engaging meeting spaces for your next meeting, you can create an environment that is stimulating, productive, and memorable.
Kadi McDonald is a freelance writer, marketing strategist, and a proud Cleveland sports fan, and says hello to every animal she comes across.