I will look at how you can choose the best room for your meetings, even if you aren’t using an external venue.

Check the light

Whether you are choosing a room at your conference venue, or just booking a meeting room at your company’s head office, try to get one with natural light. That means big windows and avoiding the basement. Of course, if you want to show a film or you have some other reason for wanting a dark room, then ignore this! But generally your meeting attendees will thank you for picking a room with lots of light.

Make it accessible

Even though a venue may be geared up with ramps and disabled toilets, it might not get many delegates in wheelchairs. If you have an attendee who uses a wheelchair, or who has any other special needs, let the venue know in advance. They should discuss it at a staff briefing so that staff are on hand to help if necessary.

If you are using your own company facilities, you may find that your delegate is comfortable with the surroundings anyway. Talk to them about whether they have any preference for meeting rooms, such as one close to the toilets or elevators.

Plan for refreshments

Are you serving refreshments in the room or are you expecting your meeting attendees to bring their own drinks from the staff kitchen? If the latter is the case, build extra time into your agenda for breaks as attendees queue for the kettle and then make their way back to the room.

Prepare refreshments for the meeting

Select a good location

Pick a room that is convenient. That means in a convenient place for the delegates, but also in a convenient place in the building. I have lost count of the amount of times I have got lost on the way to a meeting in an unfamiliar building. If you are using an external venue, ask them to put signs up in the reception area pointing the way. You can even do this at your own company offices! Put a notice on the door as well so that people know they have arrived in the right place.

Choose an appropriate layout

Meeting room venue hire companies will ask you for your choice of layout – U-style, theatre style, cabaret or boardroom style. You’ll get more people in with theatre style, but boardroom style is normally more conducive to project meetings. If you are hosting a workshop, consider cabaret style with a number of small tables. U-style is only really suitable for a session of presentations, such as a training course.

Make sure there is enough space

Having the tables set out is one thing, but you need enough space in the room as well. The more people you have, the more space you’ll need. Designate an area for coats and bags, and remember that laptops and projectors take up space on the tables. If you are expecting attendees to get up and walk around for networking or an icebreaker activity, allow space for that too.

Meeting room with an enough space

Check there are enough power sockets

Project meetings needs laptops, projectors, wifi, power points and all manner of other smart phones and gadgets – expect at least one person to run out of battery on their device and need a power socket available to recharge. If you are planning on showing a presentation, such as the project plan in Seavus Project Viewer, or your project collaboration workspace, make sure you get there early to power up your kit.

View it before the meeting

Booking a room at an external venue may sound good, but unless you go and see it you won’t really know what to expect. Yes, you can see room layout schematics and photos online, but you won’t get a feel for the room unless you visit. All venue hire companies should let you see the room before you book it.

The same goes for a room booked internally. You might be using an office at another location, or a room in a building that you haven’t visited before. If you can’t go to the office to check it out, get a colleague who works close by to visit on your behalf and report back, or get an honest appraisal from someone who has used that room for meetings in the past.