Now this may not be the most glamorous of topics, but selecting the right meeting room is an important component for having a successful session.
Prior to any workshop facilitators need to organise the length, goals and logistics of the session. They need to be clear when asking for what kind of room they want to facilitate in. This is because. in order to have a meaningful session, it is vital that you create a space that fosters thinking and collaboration.
Nancy Kline outlines ten components that make up a thinking environment. This list includes creating a space where everyone is treated equally, encouraged to participate and appreciated. As a facilitator, you need to make sure that you create an environment which fosters these behaviours. One tip to do this is that at the start of the meeting lay down ground rules (for instance, one may be “don’t interrupt others when they are speaking”).
We have mentioned what makes up a thinking environment, but it is also important to consider what really makes a great meeting room, in a physical sense. Being in the right setting will help encourage positive behaviours.
When liaising with a client ask for a big room, and when we say big, the bigger the better really. Having a big meeting room will prevent participants feeling claustrophobic. It enables participants to move about and keep their energy levels up. Moreover, if you are recording content with flip-charts and sticky notes, having lots of wall space will ensure you don’t run out of room for all your great ideas to be noted.
Sitting in a room which is dimly lit may result in people feeling sleepy and mentally switching off. Make sure the room you are in is well lit. It’s also great to have natural light.
Sitting in a stuffy room or a freezing cold one for a long period of time can be uncomfortable. Try to ensure your meeting room will be a reasonable temperature, so it does not distract the participants away from the material.
Everyone needs to be able to hear one another for a good discussion to take place. Make sure the room has good acoustics and consider having a mic if you are facilitating a large group. Additionally, ensuring the sound is fine is more challenging when it comes to hybrid meetings, make sure you have the right tech and that those in-person and those online can hear each other, so they can communicate effectively.
5. Tables for groups of participants
In large groups, it is great to split people up into smaller ones (we love having tables of 6). This encourages everyone to participate and those who are quieter to speak.
6. Materials available
Having flip-charts, whiteboard and pens in the room is great. This will enable the facilitator to record content.
Having the right tech can make delivering a meeting or workshop more seamless. For instance, sharing a powerpoint presentation, having a mic and having the right equipment for hybrid meetings may be essential. This will ensure information is communicated effectively, and that everyone is seen and heard.
8. Easy to find
Before you kick off a fantastic meeting, you need your participants to actually arrive. Make sure that the room is easy to find. If it is a bit tricky to locate, provide directions for people to follow. Moreover, having parking available can make facilitators’ lives much easier.
To learn more workshop facilitation tips, click here.