Meeting with clients can be one of the most stressful parts of running any business. This is especially true if you are running a business online, and you haven’t had much training dealing with people in face-to-face situations. You probably already understand that your clients will make a lot of judgments before you even begin talking, so it’s important to create as many non-verbal advantages as you can.
One way you can create a strong impression is the style of meeting room you choose to conduct your business. All over the world, there are dozens of meeting rooms available for rent by the hour or by the day. You want to choose one that matches your clients and your needs. Choosing the right meeting room can be very confusing, so we’re going to try to help you out.
In this post, we’re going to discuss how to choose the perfect meeting room. By the time we’re done, you should have a good idea of what will make the best impression of your clients. To make things easier, we’re going to give you step-by-step instructions. Follow these instructions, and you’ve gone a long way to making your meeting a smashing success.
Step One: Scout Local Meeting Rooms for Size & Appearance
Never plan an event at a meeting room you’ve never seen before. There are just too many things that can go wrong if you’re seeing the meeting room for the first time with your clients standing behind you. There are several big decisions you need to make before you sign a check on the room.
The Size of the Meeting Room
First, you need to decide how much space you are going to need. Establish how many people are coming to the meeting, and make sure that the meeting room comes with the appropriate amount of chairs and table space. Don’t take it for granted that the advertised is sufficient. Always visit the office first so you can make sure that everyone has plenty of room.
Try to imagine how your guests will be using the space that you’ve reserved. Is there plenty of elbow room if everyone shows up? Are people going to need to walk around? Will there be still enough room if you have to bring in a large amount of equipment?
When you aren’t sure about the size of the room that you need, it’s always best to estimate up. A room that’s too small will sour a meeting almost instantly. Everyone will be too focused on their own discomfort to think about what you’re saying, and they may associate you with the office as something that makes them uncomfortable. In addition to making sure the office is the right size, it’s important that you make sure it’s the right style for your guests.
Know Your Audience
Consider that different styles may fit different clients. You’re attempting to leave as many non-verbal clues as possible when you choose your office. You want your clients to think that you have the same kind of motivations and tastes that they do. That needs to be a consideration when you choose your office.
For example, you may want a classic “hardwood and leather” boardroom if you are dealing with more seasoned clients. Choose a meeting room that communicates a sense of professionalism and elegance. Also, always consider how sound-proof an office is when you are making your final choice. This will be important to your most distinguished clients.
You probably want a different strategy when you are dealing with younger or hipper clients. When dealing with this audience, it’s important to keep it casual. You should still dress and speak professionally, but you want the meeting room to be clear of any hint of “stuffiness”. When dealing with younger clients, you may want to budget more room to stretch out or move around.
Step 2: Assess Your Technology Needs
The equipment that you need to bring into the meeting will have a big impact on whether the office is going to meet your needs or not. If you are going to rely on interactive presentations to make your points, you may want to scout the office for several important features.
First, you are going to want a wall large enough for a display. You should call ahead whenever possible to find out if your rented office comes with equipment like a projector and a wall designed to handle display. The company renting the office may already offer this equipment, but you need to be prepared if they do not. Always make sure that you have a sufficient amount of electrical outlets to handle all of your needs. Remember that your clients may need to bring their own laptops, and they may require some outlets as well.
Try to plan ahead for anything that could make a media presentation difficult or uncomfortable. This is an important consideration if the meeting room is in a corner office, because you have may have windows on both sides. Not all offices come with window shades, which is why it is important that you verify they do before you try hosting a media-centered meeting.
Even when the meeting room has shades to cover the windows, the effect may not be dark enough. Make sure you cover all of the windows so that you can see how dark the room actually gets. Additionally, make sure the room is shaped in a way that makes viewing comfortable for everyone if they will have to focus on one screen. Some meeting rooms and tables may not be effective for media presentations.
Step 3: Plan the Seating Arrangements and Speaking
By now, you should have an office in mind that matches the size your need. It should also have the appropriate hardware to facilitate your technology. You aren’t near the end of the process though, it’s important to carefully plan how you will be speaking and where everyone will be seated. This is a particularly important step because the choices you make about conducting the meeting will say a lot about you and what you think about your clients.
Regardless of the message, you can make people comfortable or uncomfortable just in the way you speak to them. Planning how you will deliver the meeting will also help you make the really important decisions about the final layout of the room.
Standing or Sitting?
Most meetings are done in one of two ways: Presentations where someone stands and presents an idea to everyone else, or discussions where everyone sits and pokes at a common topic. No matter which style you will be using, you need to plan ahead.
If you are hosting an informal meeting where open discussion is encouraged, it will be awkward and uncomfortable for one person to stand the entire time. It may even have the effect of making you look like you are trying to be artificially important.
Likewise, it will be difficult for you to deliver a scripted presentation if you have decided to stay seated for the entire meeting. People may have trouble seeing you, and it can be more difficult to get your voice to a steady volume. It can also look lazy and unprofessional.
Choose which meeting style you want to adopt, and you will be ready to make the final choices about your meeting room. For presentation, the table should be situated so that everyone can see the speaker without having to crane their necks or turn their chairs. For discussions, the table should be shaped so that every person can see every other person comfortably.
Kill it at Your Next Meeting
You are now armed with the steps to choose the correct meeting room. The right meeting room has a critical psychological effect on your clients, so you should see some benefits right away. The rest of your success depends entirely on you. Good luck with your next big meeting!
This article is contributed by Simeon Howard.
Simeon G Howard, born in Hampstead London, started his first business at age 21. By age 25, this serial entrepreneur had founded Your City Office Ltd, a Virtual Office and Office Space brokerage firm. Drawing from his past experiences, he and his partners have quickly built and developed one of the UKs leading organizations in this industry.