Meetings: Are We Doing It Wrong?

Meeting rooms

There’s no shortage of articles in the OT archives colluding to the massive value of meeting rooms. We know they’re an enormous resource, and we also know they’re sorely underused.

Is that because there are too many cafe-style alternatives? Or because businesses are cutting costs? Or maybe no-one’s got time for an old-fashioned meeting anymore.

Of course, it goes deeper than that. But the image of the humble meeting room doesn’t exactly conform to our tech-savvy 21st century digital age, does it?

So here’s a thought: What if we’ve been doing it wrong all these years?

There’s nothing in the rulebook to say that we can’t move the chairs around, or switch the layout, or ditch the desk. Anyway, there’s no such thing as a meeting room rulebook. So let’s throw the theoretical thing out of the window and start afresh.

This great infographic from Seats and Stools highlights some interesting perspectives on how to lay out meeting furniture for better effect. Business centre and meeting room operators can use it to glean alternative ways of organising seating arrangements (or removing the arrangements altogether) to help encourage collaboration and new ideas. Here are 4 suggestions:

Remove the Chairs:

Standup meetings are more common than you think. They’re particularly popular with technical teams, who often have 10-minute ‘standups’ every morning to whizz through their task-list. It’s a quick shuffle, a prioritising exercise, and back to work. No time wasted. If you manage a business centre team, why not introduce these for your own staff briefings?

Remove the Table:

This one’s best for brainstorming and idea-generation sessions (or when the meeting room is already occupied). Sit in a circle, without a table. This removes the temptation to get too comfortable. You want people on their toes – not slouched over their notebooks.

On the subject of brainstorming sessions, keep groups small for more spontaneity. Separate overbearing personalities by distance and don’t invite high-ranking members of staff – otherwise you risk intimidating or drowning-out quieter characters.

Present to a Semi-Circle:

Why stick to orderly rows during a presentation? Encourage collaboration and feedback by organising chairs in a semi-circle around the speaking platform. It will generate better viewing positions plus you can interact better with the audience.

Go Banquet Style:

In sales meetings, training sessions or team updates, why not try a banquet style approach? Position chairs around tables as if you were sitting down to dinner. You could even specify a seating arrangement with nameplates to mix characters up a bit. This way, you’ll increase interaction and focus attention. Food is optional!

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Here’s the infographic from Seats and Stools. Why not post it on your meeting room walls to encourage clients to get more out of their gatherings?