As you’re preparing for an all important meeting, you’re probably thinking about a lot of things: what to say, how to respond to what they say, maybe what to wear, whether there’s enough coffee to go around. What you’re probably not thinking about is room design. But you should be. As we’ll see, the layout, look and feel of a meeting room can have a much larger impact on the outcome of a meeting than many would think.
A good meeting room makes a good impression
You may have met them briefly before at a networking event or over the phone, but likely the first time you properly engage with a client will be in one place, and one place only: the meeting room. Naturally, you want to make a good first impression, and a lot of this first impression will be informed by your presentation and behaviour. But a surprising amount of it will actually come from the meeting environment.
As Science of People discusses, a room can have a huge effect on mental health. It’s unlikely that your meeting will last long enough for your client to become depressed by the surroundings, but the room will still have an effect on a smaller scale. Colours are important. Blue is calming, while green is associated with money. Does that mean a meeting in a blue and green room will be calm and profitable? Not necessarily, but it could help push things in this direction.
As well as colour, there is the general aesthetic of your meeting room. Do you want to be seen as a free-spirited, independent-minded startup? Make sure your decor spells this out: exposed brick, wooden furniture, metal fixtures. Do you want to be seen as a professional, business-like business? Again, spell it out: conventional office chairs, formal layout, harsh lighting.
Some businesses opt to use rented meeting rooms equipped with the latest technology and facilities for their most important clients, to make sure the environment is as professional as possible. However you do it, make sure you get the look of your meeting room right so you don’t leave the wrong impression.
Poor meeting room acoustics could hamper meetings
Even if your meeting room looks exactly how you want it to look, there’s still a chance it could still be having a negative impact on the way your meeting plays out. You may know exactly what you’re going to say and when. But what’s the point if no one can hear it?
Okay, it would be difficult for your meeting room’s acoustics to be so terrible as to obscure all dialogue. But as Teem discusses, even minor disruptions to a meeting room’s acoustics can have a pronounced effect on a meeting.
In most meeting rooms, there are several surfaces made of different materials. Each of these materials reflects sound in a different way. When someone in the meeting speaks, the sound of their voice will bounce around the room creating reverberation. This creates two problems: lack of clarity, and lack of privacy.
When sound reverberates around a room, it is far easier for people to hear it from outside. This restricts what you and your clients can say in the meeting. If they realise the meeting is not strictly confidential, they may hold back with what they say.
Aside from being mildly annoying, a lack of clarity in a meeting room can be especially troubling when clients or employees call into a meeting. As the head of ADI Workplace Acoustics told Teem, you will sound as if you’re “talking with your head in a bucket” to people on the other end of the phone (or computer). This, of course, will not be conductive to the meeting.
To avoid these scenarios, it is best to equip your meeting room with soundproof materials, and to test if for both privacy and clarity before you invite in clients.
Better meeting room design can enhance team performance and creativity
Not all meetings are about trying to impress your clients. A lot of the time, they’re about actually achieving something substantial. A study in the Springer journal investigated the effect of meeting room environment on the performance of a group in a creative task.
The study examined how a room that stimulates excitement can differ from a room that stimulates relaxation, and finally a neutral room that stimulates nothing, can make an impact on how well a team completes a task. The study’s conclusion? It depends on the task.
When it comes to meeting room design, there’s a lot we can take away from this. If your meeting is a creative brainstorming session, exciting room design is key. Try bright colours and imagery. If your meeting is just a casual catch-up, a relaxed atmosphere will be best. To be prepared for different kinds of meetings, it would be wise to have multiple meeting rooms at your disposal with designs suited to different scenarios.
Article Submitted By Community Writer