Your place or mine: Finding the perfect meeting space

Ashleigh Sharp, Director of &Meetings, discusses the importance of the perfect meeting space.

So, you’ve got the agenda sorted, all attendees confirmed and the presentation prepared, the next question is, your place or mine?

Organising a business meeting may seem like a quick and simple task, but it’s surprising just how much thought and attention actually goes in to arranging these all-important occurrences. From catering to equipment, one can never put too much effort into choosing the perfect venue, especially when the offices at which you are based just don’t make the cut.

For me, the most important features to consider when researching meeting venues are location, cost, facilities, size and perhaps most importantly, meeting tone. After all, no one wants to turn up to a meeting to discuss budgets and figures to find they will be sharing their gathering with screaming children in an overcrowded coffee shop.

Let’s look at location. Location needs to be considered in conjunction with a number of key factors. Firstly, a meeting venue needs to be accessible to everyone in attendance. There’s no point arranging a meeting in Gibraltar when you and everyone else are based in London. Secondly, there needs to be good travel links and ideally the venue should be serviced by reliable public transport. Thirdly, is it convenient?

I have always found that cost and facilities come hand in hand. A small budget doesn’t necessarily mean the basics but a good budget can be the difference between an HD overhead projector and an old fashioned blackboard. If special facilities are required, it is essential that you know just how much you’ve got to spend before you even consider venue hire. If no facilities are required other than access to a toilet, perhaps consider meeting at a restaurant or bar.

Next let’s look at size. It’s no use booking a conference room to accommodate 250 people for just a couple of delegates. Likewise, it’s not worth booking a smaller room to accommodate more people than it can actually hold just to save money, as you may end up with a lot of disgruntled associates. Ensure you know exactly how many people will be attending the meeting. How many chairs do you need, will there be enough desk space, will people be comfortable? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before making a venue booking.

Finally, and most importantly, know your meeting tone. Is your meeting a casual catch up or an austere budget summit? Allow the venue to match the tone. Getting the right balance of meeting and venue tone is of utmost importance if you are to make a good impression. If you want to be taken seriously perhaps splash out on an artistic or smart venue. If you are having relaxed client drinks pick a relaxing bar. Getting this tone just right can prove to be key to a successful meeting.

Of course there are a number of other features to consider before a meeting space is confirmed, however, once these initial requirements have been taken care of, I often find that the rest will fall into place.

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