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Meeting Rooms: Make Them Comfortable and Functional

Away from your cubicles and offices, you and your employees do some of your best and most important work. Holed up in conference rooms you brainstorm the company's yearly strategy, sign on new clients, conduct annual performance reviews, and teach your staff new skills.

Imagine how much more productive you all would be if you set up comfortable, functional, and fully equipped meeting rooms. Following is a list of what you'll need to set up or makeover your conference rooms.

Room layout

The table and chairs you choose will become the center of your conference room and the way you arrange the furniture will influence every meeting. EffectiveMeetings.com offers the following recommendations.

Round tables are ideal for meetings meant to solve problems. According to EffectiveMeetings.com "equal contribution of ideas is easier when people are seated in a circular pattern."

U–shaped arrangements are best for training because this design fosters equality and interaction.

Long rectangular tables are suggested for meetings where there will be one or two designated decision–makers or facilitators.

Be sure to measure the meeting room before purchasing the table and chairs. You’ll want to have enough space for your staff and guests to move about freely. Also do not crowd too many chairs around the table.

Table Seats
Small round tables
30" Height
60" Diameter
3 to 4 people
Rectangular tables
30" Height
24" Width
6' Length
8 to 10 people

Meeting attendees will be seated most of the time, so you'll want them to be comfortable. Opt for height–adjustable chairs as they will allow everyone to rest their feet flat on the floor, which in turn provides added support for the lower back. Adjustable armrests are another nice–to–have feature as they help prevent neck and shoulder aches.

High-tech must-haves

In addition to boosting productivity, well–wired conference rooms can help increase creativity and collaboration during meetings. Consider adding the following high–tech tools.

Projectors. Multi–media projectors offer the most versatility, playing videos and running presentations off laptop computers. A lower–cost alternative is an overhead projector, which uses transparency sheets that the presenter creates and changes manually. Don't forget to invest in a projector screen, even though you may be tempted to use a wall. Walls do not typically project the presentations true colors, do not reflect as well as projector screens, and may not allow quality viewing from different angles in the room. A mobile audio/visual cart will make moving the projector from room to room easier and faster.

Low-tech must-haves

Of course, don't forget the low–tech favorites that have become meeting room essentials.

Conference phones. If you regularly hold conference calls, install a stand–alone speakerphone. Many come with three built–in microphones and simultaneous two–way communication, which helps prevent clipped words and sentences on both ends of the conversation.

Dry–erase boards. Not all meeting notes need to be printed or saved directly to a computer. Meeting rooms should have traditional dry–erase boards where notes can be posted and erased at the end of the meeting. Again, be sure to stock dry erase markers, erasers, and board cleaner.

Easel and easel pads. Some people may prefer to mark ideas up on giant easel paper, then rip the sheet off and take it back to their office to transcribe into notes. An easel will allow everyone in the room to see the notes being written up on the pad.

Wall calendar. Planning sessions often take place in meeting rooms. A wall calendar will help your teams create realistic project deadlines.

Refrigerator. If you routinely host long meetings you may want to consider installing a refrigerator stocked with bottles of water, especially if your conference room gets stuffy when the door is shut and it is full of people.

Color

The shade you paint your meeting room may also affect the mood and productivity levels of the people using the space. "Workplace color schemes leave lasting impressions with employees, customers, and office visitors," say experts at EffectiveMeetings.com in the Web article Color My Meeting Room.

Color Promotes
Yellow Concentration and calmness
Blue Relaxation and agreeability
Grey Negativity
Red Aggression, untidiness, conflict
Black Feelings of power

Lighting

If possible, all meeting rooms should have windows. Jane Stahl, a certified meeting planner says rooms need "bright natural light to keep people awake, but the windows should be able to be covered so that AV [projector screens, computer screens, televisions, etc.] can be seen."

Use meeting time efficiently

Once your meeting room is set up, make the most of your meetings with these tips.

  • Start and finish on time.
  • Have an agenda for each meeting so time is not wasted.
  • Call upon quieter attendees to see what they're thinking.
  • Ask participants not to interrupt each other.
  • Never go more than two hours without taking a break.
  • At the end of each meeting ask attendees what could be improved for the next meeting.


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