When It Comes to a Team Meeting, Atmosphere is a Pretty Big Deal

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 9, 2008

Take a close look at your team’s meeting room.  Does it support or subliminally take away from the team’s work?  Dianne Jordan, a design consultant specializing in feng shui principles has several great ideas to make an ordinary meeting into one that is spectacular:

Open Sesame.  Take a look at the entrance to your meeting space.  Keep the doors open and inviting as your teammates enter and engage.  Make sure the entrance is not crowded or cluttered with boxes and other distractions.  Make sure you, the maintenance staff or the team have cleaned up the obvious dirt, dust, fingerprints on the glass and sticky hinges before everyone arrives.  Dianne says, “In feng shui language, a badly-maintained entrance sends a subliminal signal that you don’t have respect for your clients, your teammates or yourself.  Everyone who enters will experience a slightly uneasy feeling that affects the perceptions of everything you do and say for the rest of the meeting.  Offer a first-class entrance for a first-class meeting.”

See Thy Purpose.  What are the visual signals your meeting room sends?  Look at the visual metaphors in your room.  For example, dried flowers make a dead meeting, so liven it up with fresh cut flowers or live plants.  Do the pictures represent teamwork or something different, such as a classical hunting scene?  Abstract art makes it difficult for team members to focus on concrete issues.  The visual elements should support (not detract from) what the team is trying to do.

Curvy Setup.  Rather than classroom or “row” seating, set up the tables in a semi-circle around the focal point.  If you must have a classroom setup, do not crowd the room.  Angle the tables toward the speaker.

Center Stage.  Where is the focal point for the discussion?  Can everyone see what’s going on?  Go to every part of the room and look at the focal point.  It should be free of distractions, allowing all team members to concentrate on the team’s business.

Little Details.  Finally, be sensitive to lighting, background noises and unpleasant odors in the room.  Is the lighting in the room appropriate?  Full spectrum light bulbs prevent fatigue and eye strain.  What background noises seep into the room unexpectedly?  Perhaps you can minimize these noises.  Ask someone else to let you know if the room has an “odor.”  Often we don’t ever realize how stuffy or unpleasant a room may be.

Question:  What is one thing you can do to make your team meeting room more conducive to productivity?

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