A positive environment for your team meetings is conducive to small business success. Here are a few tips to creating an ambiance that is just right for everyone involved.
Move Your Meat, Lose Your Seat
Where people sit in a business meeting can be reminiscent of where and how they chose to sit in a lunchroom during junior high or high school. We might not spend a lot of time thinking about it, but our coworkers may take their seating arrangements very seriously.
People tend to feel most comfortable when they’re able to sit in the same spot every time. Problems arise when a particular seat is taken, and attendants can become irritated. We also find that sitting next to someone who is a friend, a fellow colleague or someone of influence is comforting. Unpleasant neighbors are usually completely separated by choice.
Seated for Power
It’s also important to remember that for some of our colleagues, where they sit indicates power status. The overall effectiveness of a meeting can be influenced physiologically by seating arrangements. The most planned powerful position for someone that wants to influence someone else is to sit directly across from that person. The seat right next to the leader is a great position for someone who wants to give a message of power.
Knights of the Round Table
The shape and style of the table used during a meeting can say a lot about the way you like to run your business, whether you want it to or not.There are probably many reasons that King Arthur chose a round table when meeting with his knights. Round tables work best for problem solving meetings, because it encourages a good amount of participation and interaction. There is no head of the table in this arrangement due to all seats being neutral.
In contrast, rectangular tables have at least one definite head, which can indicate who is in charge. Stick with rectangular tables for those meetings where you need to make decisions. This set up will allow your team to tackle important points and get work done quickly and efficiently.
Decide What’s Hot and What’s Cold
It can be difficult to control the heating, cooling and ventilating systems of a room for a meeting. Room by room climate control is a tricky business, and having perfect for every person is next to impossible.
It's best to opt for cooler temperatures in an office because if it starts out warm, the bodies will make it warmer which can lead to overall irritability. People will feel less sleepy with cooler temps as well. Warm drinks such as coffee are great to ease off the chill.
Avoid Noisy Distractions
Room noises can be the biggest distraction. Keep in mind outside traffic noise, ventilation sounds and audiovisual equipment noises. Kitchen noises and other presentations nearby should be avoided. Inform your participants of fire alarm exits just in case of an emergency. A trick to deaden the noise of a slamming door is put duct tape on the catches.
Another kind of noise is decor noise. Decorated themes are very common in hotel conference rooms. Some distractions can come from mirrors or large murals. The best option is to face the chairs away from these distractions.
Stay in the Light
People's eyes can become strained if the lighting is too bright. Eyes will slowly shut and get sleepy if the room is too dark. Natural light is the best alternative if possible, however keep close attention to outside distractions with chair backs facing the windows.
When audiovisual equipment is used, artificial lighting is used as well. Watch for light that washes out the screen. Turn off lights just above the screen or face the screen away from natural light. Ask maintenance to remove or unscrew lighting that is problematic.
Following some careful guidelines such as these will keep your participants involved with clearer focus. Getting rid of distractions and keeping in mind the comfort level will produce great results for meetings.
Kelly Wilson works for a company with colleagues who take their seating arrangements very seriously when they gather for conference room presentations during weekly meetings.