A properly organised meeting with a defined purpose and a desired outcome has always played a major part in the success of a business. Meetings are a great way of bringing people together, in teams and from across functions, to make decisions and brainstorm new ideas. We all know that 2020 has seen a dramatic rise in people working from home, a trend that is frequently and reliably reported as being here to stay. Of course, not commuting into the office has its benefits in terms of work/ life balance, something that 2/3rds of workers said in a recent survey has become not just important, but something they are not prepared to give up.
With meetings for up to 30 people permitted to take place, subject to the venue adhering to all the required Covid-secure guidelines and with children back at school, organising off-site meetings is likely to become ever more important. For many colleagues, a meeting in the coming weeks will potentially be the first time they have all been together since the beginning of the year, meaning the role of these meetings is not just being the content itself. It is also about allowing remote workers, or regional/national departments, to get together in a room with sufficient space to accommodate social distancing, for some valuable face-to-face time.
It goes without saying that preparation is key, it always has been, but is perhaps even more so now to ensure that those attending feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings. Detailed planning, in conjunction with your chosen venue, should start long before everybody is sat around the table. So, we’ve put together our top ten things to remember when organising a meeting today to help get you started:
- Start by defining your purpose. What do you want to achieve by the end of your meeting? This could involve working through a big agenda, coming to a number of decisions as a group, or simply ensuring the team has caught up and bonded. Whatever the purpose of your meeting, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your attendees in advance.
- Pick a time and a date. This can often be the hardest part when organising a meeting! Using a calendar tool such as Doodle enables you to suggest several meeting dates to your team and find out their availability. Tools like Doodle will collate feedback to find the best date to hold your meeting without having several email exchanges.
- Select the perfect venue. Make a shortlist of venues where you’d like to hold your meetings based on your requirements and budget, and get in touch. Be clear in your brief so they are able to get back to you promptly with how they can accommodate what you’re looking for and importantly, the cost. Establishing a good relationship with the venue’s event coordinator will help ensure your meeting runs smoothly on the day too.
- Who is on your attendee list? Right now, the maximum number of people who can attend a meeting in person is 30. Who needs to be there? Can you accommodate everyone in one meeting, split into groups to comply with the Rule of Six guidelines? Or do you need a venue, such as Glenfall House, Crumplebury or Bowden Hall, with multiple meeting rooms to be able to split people into groups?
- Make sure your venue has the correct facilities. Is everyone attending in person, or will some people need to be able to attend virtually? Is your chosen venue able to facilitate this? Will there be presentations that require AV equipment? Don’t forget that if you need people to take notes, then it’s a good idea to remind them to bring their own paper and pens, as due to single-use wastage many venues are no longer providing them.
- Meetings don’t have to stay in the boardroom. Does your meeting need to take place sat around a table? Many venues featured on Secret Spaces have amazing outdoor areas. What will get your team’s creative juices flowing? Being able to get out in the fresh air might just be the answer!
- Will your meeting need catering? Venues are re-thinking the way they serve food and beverages. Buffets and coffee stations are no longer on the menu, so check with your venue what catering options they are now offering.
- Location, location, location. If your meeting attendees are travelling, pick a location that has good transport links or is easily accessible by car. Many Secret Spaces venues have ample parking or are located a short taxi journey away from a train station.
- Will your attendees need accommodation? If your meeting is a two-day event, you may want to consider a meeting venue with accommodation on-site or nearby. It’s a good idea to book this in early, or to speak to nearby hotels to see if they are able to put any rooms on hold.
- What is the follow up? However informal, meeting notes are the best way to capture ideas and drive action following the discussion. There may be presentations to share too. Determining who will be responsible for the follow up beforehand prevents key points being missed and ensures that everyone has a clear record of their own activities and tasks from the meeting.
Secret Spaces can recommend a number of meeting spaces to suit your needs, whatever your agenda.