Designing Flexible Meeting Rooms for Interactive Meetings

Casa Velas Meeting RoomWhen meeting planners and facilitators design interactive meetings, the right environment makes all the difference. This is true for internal corporate meeting rooms or function rooms in hotels and event venues.

These tips are a guide for creating an environment that supports interactive meetings:

  1. Think light, bright and airy to keep the energy of the group high.
    Floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights provide sources of natural light throughout the year. (The meeting room to the right from Casa Velas Hotel in Puerto Vallarta is an excellent example.)
     
  2. Tables should be durable and also light enough to move.
     
  3. Ensure that seating is ergonomically sound, comfortable and easy to re-configure.
    See Cvent Event Blog's Choosing Comfortable Chairs post for more information.
     
  4. Space should be easy to re-configure for a variety of meetings formats.

 

  1. Provide enough flip charts for the maximum group size the meeting room can accommodate.
    If they are built in, stagger them so that groups can work without disturbing each other. Otherwise, ensure that they are easy to move.
     
  2. Built-in audio-visual is important for internal meeting rooms and adds tremendous value for clients at hotels, resorts and other event venues.
    Think projectors, screens, and TV monitors but don't forget DVD players, microphones and PA systems. Also, consider iPads, tele-conferencing facilities and audience response systems.
     
  3. With the increasing use of laptops and tablets, modern meeting rooms need ample electrical outlets for speakers, facilitators and participants.
     
  4. Opt for bright colors.
    They stimulate the brain, help participants re-main alert and keep their energy high.
     

Colorful Meeting Room

Photo Credit: © Richard Barnes - KBP West Offices / Jensen Architects/Jensen & Macy Architects

  1. Allow enough wall space for hang flip chart sheets and posters.
    As a facilitator, my bias is that there is no such thing as too much wall space.
     
  2. One or more computer printers would be appreciated by project team leaders as well as meeting and team building facilitators.
     
  3. Meeting Room with BreakoutsKingbridge Centre Breakout rooms should be informal and easily accessible.
    North of Toronto in King City has the right idea. They have a large meeting room with 4 breakout rooms directly attached. Participants don't have to leave the space.

    To create an environment that facilitates brainstorming, lounge furniture can be perfect for breakout rooms.
     
  4. Built-in storage is important.
    Cupboards for facilitators to store boxes and containers are overlooked more often than not. Include built-in shelves with kits stocked with pens, scented markers (thick and thin), florescent Post-it notes and index cards, masking tape or mack tack, staplers, tactile energizers for Kinesthetic learners, and colored paper. Don't forget cupboards or racks for winter coats and space for storing boots if you are in Canada or snow belts in the USA, Europe or Asia.
     
  5. Consider having a dining area and kitchenette attached to the meeting room.
    With the pressure for shorter and shorter meetings, it's important to minimize downtime for working lunches and snacks. Be sure that there are lots of counters and tables for buffets, snacks and beverages.
     
  6. Amenities like cappuccino makers and fridges stocked with juice, fruit, water and soft drinks that participants can grab quickly, can make all the difference.
     
  7. Ensure an optimal ratio of female to male washrooms to avoid line-ups that could delay the start of the meeting after lunch and breaks.
     
  8. Plant walls, indoor gardens or built in boxes for flowering plants add a natural touch throughout the year.
    This indoor garden is outside the meeting room pictured above.
     

Indoor Garden

Photo Credit: © Richard Barnes - KBP West Offices / Jensen Architects/Jensen & Macy Architects

  1. Green space that is large enough for activities is a definite plus if space permits.
    If space is tight, consider a patio with barbecue pit.
     

Let's end with design inspiration from Google offices around the world.

For more ideas, also read Set-up for Attendee Engagement and 10 Tips for Re-shaping Your Workspace.

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