Imagine this: You’re standing in front of a group of people, ready to deliver the groundbreaking information that will change your team’s performance, improve productivity, clear up ALL misunderstandings in company processes and procedures, and make the workplace an all-around better place. Then, as you get into the discussion, people are yawning, chairs are creaking as people adjust their seats to face you, two people begin a little side conversation because you can barely see them where they’re sitting anyway, and some keep looking down at their phones.
If you are someone who runs a number of meetings, you may have accepted that this is just the way things are: Phones are always out, Johnny’s always starting side conversations because he gets bored so easily, and Laura’s always tired for Monday morning meetings because she stays up late to watch Talking Dead. As much as these circumstances seem out of your control, there may be something about the room or area you choose to conduct these groundbreaking meetings in that keeps people from being able to focus on the matters at hand.
So, how do we manipulate a meeting space to stimulate focus and achieve maximum productivity?
- Consider the meeting’s purpose and the seating arrangement:
- A presentation- or lecture-style requires seating everyone to face the presenter(s), so the room should be set up similar to a classroom or training room, or an auditorium if there are a large number of attendees.
- A collaborative-style requires interaction and input from all attendees. So, sitting around a conference table, or a circular configuration in a less formal setting, would be conducive to collaboration and would engage your participants more.
(See more seating configurations at http://www.stagingconnections.com/events/choosing-the-best-seating-style-for-your-audienceUse visuals whenever possible! Give people something to look at other than their phones. Furnish your meeting space with whiteboards, TV screens, projectors, and internet, so you’re ready to go with visuals that will add more life and entertainment to your meeting.
- Consider, even, the COLOR of your conference room. Though subtle, the color on the walls does impact the mood, energy, and focus in a room.
Finally, a nice addition to perk people up and keep them focused is to have coffee, water, and something for people to munch on during the meeting. Growling stomachs and heavy eyes aren’t conducive to anyone’s concentration.
- Blues and greens are known for their soothing effects, but at the same time boost the energy level in a room, while reds and yellows verge on overly high energy, leading to combativeness (red) and even anxiety (yellow).
- Colors to stay away from are the basic neutrals: white, off-whites, and grays. These are the rooms that completely lack energy, and gray rooms can even lower people’s moods, like gray cloudy skies make us feel down and groggy.