5 ways to create a great meeting environment

Four people sat around a table, video conferencing with others.
(Image credit: KanDao)

Whether in-house, or your meetings stretch further afield, catering to your team’s needs and wants goes a long way to ensuring they feel at home in their meeting environment.

Pay attention to these five steps in order to provide the best meeting environment possible.

Make sure the meeting is necessary and avoid too many participants 

Companies have historically loved to hold meetings, whether that’s to brief high-paid managers on the latest and greatest or to share progress and ideas among a team. Nowadays, however, meetings can be dreaded by many who prefer to keep their heads down and work hard. An hour out of somebody’s day could be the difference between them completing a task and not.

It’s crucial, then, to make sure that the right people are at a meeting. Only invite those who will benefit directly from engaging with the topic. If somebody doesn’t need to attend a meeting, letting them continue with their work is likely to prove far more practical.

Similarly, make sure any meeting is strictly necessary. If it’s something that can be shared in an email, why bother pulling together teams from across the building to sit in the same room for something so simple?

Whether it's a full-blown meeting, or it ends up being a quick email, be sure to keep it short and snappy, and to stay focused on the topic. Going off on a tangent may seem like a good idea when you’re in the same room as somebody else, but it may not be beneficial to everybody.

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Have a plan 

You’ve set aside an hour of everybody’s time, so have a plan. A good meeting will have a carefully curated agenda that allows the discussion of a key point with input from all members. Create this agenda in advance and familiarize yourself with it - sticking to this will guarantee a smooth and efficient meeting. 

Sharing the agenda with those who are taking part prior to it commencing is a great idea as it lets them know what to expect, and what is expected of them. This can help participants know when to talk and when to stay quiet; a disorganized meeting can put workers under a lot of stress which certainly doesn’t create a healthy meeting environment.

Planning good use of the time is key, but there are other things you could plan too. Consider any equipment you may need to bring to support your meeting. If you will rely on technology, check that the necessary connections are in the room and set up in advance.

Time your meeting optimally 

The people in attendance make up part of the experience, so careful consideration into the time should be paramount. While workers’ productivity levels drop off towards the end of the week, they’re at an all-time high during the first few days. It’s best to avoid end-of-week meetings whether they’re to report good news, bad news or to introduce a new project because a lack of enthusiasm could dampen the overall mood.

Similarly, there are even optimal times throughout the day that we can consider. People are often distracted at the end of the day with thoughts about their home lives, while hungry workers may not be as receptive around lunchtime. A mid-morning time slot should work well, and you can even bring a supply of healthy snacks to curb any cravings and boost morale.

Pick the right space 

There are so many things to consider when creating a great environment that it can be easy to forget about the actual, physical environment. Sometimes there’s not a lot that can be done about this as you may be restricted to certain office spaces, but there are some things that you can do to improve a team’s experience.

Choosing a well-lit room is top priority: without realizing, you could be confusing your workers’ internal body clocks and as a result they could prove less receptive and productive. The best environment will be well-lit with natural sources like large windows to the exterior, but if this just isn’t possible, it may be worth considering the warmth of the lights in the office. Cooler lights can boost productivity, while warmer lights give a sense of comfort and relaxation.

If you have a choice of spaces that satisfy this, the next step should be to consider how private they are. Rooms that are susceptible to other noises can be distracting, so picking a room far away from the main office space should help everybody to focus.

If your meeting relies on a presentation, or maybe it involves talking to other people using videoconferencing software, it’s worth paying attention to the setup you use. Focusing on a screen can be tiring for your staff, so picking a large, clear display could reduce otherwise avoidable strain. A good set of speakers and, where necessary a high-definition microphone, provide the best experience for an online meeting; in this instance a good video bar could help soften an otherwise harsh meeting environment.

Paying as much attention to your virtual space as your office space will go further to making the most comfortable environment for your team. Just like you wouldn’t want a cluttered desk, try to keep presentation slides to a minimum and keep video tiles as large as possible when making video calls.

Make sure everyone is sitting comfortably 

It has long been hard to balance comfort with productivity, and we think talking to your team about their preferences could ultimately harness the greatest meeting environment. After all, workers who feel more involved are more likely to contribute.

We can artificially create a more inviting environment by altering the seating plan, for example. Some of the best table layouts include U-shape formations and island-like squares. This way, everybody is able to face one another. Try to mix seniors with juniors, and space out any managers. This helps to remove the intimidating feeling of hierarchy and encourage more participation.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!