Planning effective meetings: setting up for success
A successful meeting provides a valuable opportunity for a team to come together, share ideas and make decisions that will impact work moving forward. But, for a meeting to be truly effective, it needs to be focused and engaging and take place in the right environment.
The way meetings are carried out has changed dramatically in recent years with the rise of remote and hybrid working patterns. Virtual meetings can be a great substitute for some face-to-face meetings, but in-person sessions have been shown to be far more effective, with 59% of professionals believing that physical meetings make them more productive. Thanks to the availability of rental conference and meeting rooms, even fully remote companies can benefit from face to face meetings.
Below, we take a look at the importance of meeting in person, how you can ensure your meeting is a success and the role of the right setting.
Are face-to-face meetings a thing of the past?
Despite the increase in virtual meetings and many organisations closing their offices or streamlining to reduce office space, in-person meetings are soaring in popularity. Due to their benefits, a survey from 2022 found that 88% of companies plan to bring back team gatherings and events. These include:
- Enhanced relationships: In-person meetings are much better for building bonds within teams and forming meaningful working relationships with clients. A study by Forbes Insight found that 85% of people built stronger and more meaningful business relationships with people they’ve met face-to-face.
- Increased productivity: Meeting face to face produces more quality ideas and actions. Research by envoy.com showed that in-person meetings have an average of 13+ productive ideas per meeting, while remote meetings produce 10 ideas on average.
- Improved communication: Experts estimate that around 70-93% of communication is non-verbal, which is much more easily picked up face to face.
- Reduced distractions: A 2021 study found that almost 90% of people multitask in virtual meetings. Physical meetings are usually much more engaging and attendees are more likely to give them their full attention.
- Establish business identity: In-person meetings can help to make employees feel more connected to their organisation and foster a sense of community. They help people get to know each other on a personal rather than purely professional level and feel part of an organisation.
Choosing your meeting format – virtual, in-person or hybrid?
Whether a virtual meeting or a face-to-face meeting is the better option depends on a number of factors. We’ve compiled some pros and cons of these meeting types below to help you choose.
In person meetings
We’ve covered the main benefits of in person meetings in the section above, but in addition, face to face meetings can:
- Be more effective for training events as they can accommodate different learning styles.
- Benefit participants by bringing them out of their usual work environments. This can also help to reduce normal workplace distractions.
- Can be drawn out if participants go off-topic.
- All participants need to travel to a central location.
- More expensive than a virtual meeting.
- Some people may avoid in person meetings due to anxiety. For more information about how to combat this, see our guide.
- Not as flexible for participants who have other responsibilities, such as childcare.
- Avoids the need for employees to travel and allow for more spontaneous, short-notice meetings.
- Can help reduce time spent in meetings. For shorter meetings, casual conversation is usually reduced.
- Can easily be recorded so employees with different working patterns can catch up on informational meetings.
- Free for companies, depending on their virtual software subscriptions.
- Less productive.
- Not as impactful as an in person meeting.
- It can be hard to hear if more than one person speaks.
- Prone to technology issues.
- Less likely to have full buy-in from all participants.
- Can be less engaging, particularly true for longer meetings.
- Allow everyone to take part regardless of location.
- Useful to include virtual functionality in in person meetings in case illness or injury prevents participants from travelling.
- Virtual participants can find it difficult to join in person discussions.
- Still prone to technical issues.
Ultimately, virtual meetings are suited to most reasonably brief meetings, but for important, large-scale meetings such as strategy meetings or presentations, an in-person or hybrid meeting is the better choice.
20 Bedford Way offers a range of affordable meeting rooms at an accessible central London location. For more information, see our meeting room hire page.
Planning a meeting
As we’ve discussed, in-person meetings require financial investment and effort from all involved. To ensure that time and money don’t go to waste, it’s important to plan ahead. We’ve broken down the planning process in this section.
The first thing to consider is the meeting’s purpose – why has everyone taken the time out of their schedule to sit together? What do you want the meeting to achieve? For example, this could be a marketing strategy for a new campaign or settling on a name for a company rebrand. Answering this fundamental question will help to keep your meeting on track.
When planning your meeting, it can be helpful to keep in mind the 5 P’s. These are:
- Purpose: The purpose is key to the function of the meeting. As the meeting progresses, make sure it stays aligned with its purpose.
- Participants: The participants should have been chosen consciously to avoid inviting anyone who doesn’t need to be there. Everyone present should be in a position to contribute.
- Process: This is essentially the agenda and how much time is needed to complete the meeting.
- Payoff: What is the end goal? This should be achievable and clearly established at the start of the meeting.
- Preparation: Is everyone aware of what they need to contribute and are they able to do so?
When you’ve determined the overall purpose, it’s time to move on to thinking about the structure.
Every meeting needs a structure to advance towards an overall goal. A structure also helps attendees set their expectations for how the day will progress. Exactly how the meeting is structured depends on the length and desired outcomes. As a general rule, the structure includes:
- Who is invited and what each attendee is responsible for, e.g. If they are leading a presentation and what they need to prepare in advance.
- The order of topics, presentations, talking points and any activities, including breakout sessions. Ensure that any goals are achievable in the time available in the meeting.
- The amount of time that will be spent on each topic. This only has to be a rough estimate, but it acts as a cue to move the meeting forward and ensures you have enough time to cover all the essential points.
Once you’ve decided on your structure, you should collate all this information in a meeting agenda.
How to write a meeting agenda
A meeting agenda is a list of topics or activities that you plan to cover during your meeting. Its purpose is to give participants a clear outline of the meeting’s structure. This includes the discussion points, speakers and a general timeline. Some common elements you should include are:
- The meeting name: Give the meeting an appropriate name, like ‘Strategy meeting’ or ‘Budget meeting’, as this helps to set expectations for participants.
- Date and time: Include the date and time of the meeting, as well as the time zone if participants are attending overseas.
- Location: Give the address of the meeting room and instructions on how to find it.
- Objectives: List the purpose and objectives of the meeting. This should be the overall aim and goal of the meeting rather than the smaller details.
- Items for discussion: You should lay out each item for discussion, who will be leading, a timeframe and any necessary supporting items.
- Time for further points and discussion: It’s also worth including some time for any further discussion points or questions that arise during the meeting. This helps to avoid the meeting running over schedule.
- Note-taking: Make it clear beforehand who will take notes and record actions.
Writing your agenda is an opportunity to help ensure active participation in advance of the meeting. Participation is essential for a meeting to work, and you can encourage buy-in from participants by asking for their input on the topics they would like to discuss.
How your agenda looks will depend on your organisation and the meeting’s purpose. You should aim to keep it as concise as you can without omitting any key information. Make sure to share it with participants well in advance of the meeting so they know what to expect and can prepare. Try to store it in a place where people can access it easily.
Leading a meeting
When leading a meeting, your job is to ensure it runs efficiently and to create an environment where participants can share openly. To help with this, you should create a set of meeting rules. These can be included in the agenda and distributed before the meeting.
You may want to adjust these, but some suggested meeting rules are:
- Be punctual
- Be prepared to contribute
- Follow the agenda
- Promote open discussion
- Be solution focussed
- Remain positive
- Keep a record of actions and decisions
- Share meeting notes
- Try to start and finish on time
Once you’re feeling confident in how to structure and lead the meeting, it’s time to choose a meeting room.
Why is a meeting room important?
For organisations without office space, booking a meeting room should be an easy decision. Even for organisations that do have a central office, it may be too small to accommodate everyone who needs to attend, may lack the necessary facilities and may not be in a convenient location. All these problems can be solved by the right meeting room.
However, some organisations will see cafes or other hospitality venues as cost-effective alternatives to a meeting space. While these settings offer a relaxing environment for some, they aren’t a replacement for a dedicated meeting space. Below, we explore some of the reasons why:
- Privacy: It’s important that confidential or sensitive information, particularly concerning clients or embargoed information, isn’t overheard. In a cafe, this happens all too easily. A dedicated meeting space allows you to relax, knowing that the room offers complete privacy. This also helps conversation to flow more openly.
- Accessibility: Meeting venues are generally built to be easy to get to. Easy parking and availability of public transport are important for the people attending. 20 Bedford Way is located in a prime position in central London, just minutes from Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.
- Professionalism: For potential clients and customers, a meeting room helps to lend an air of professionalism to your business. It’s much more impressive for a client to be invited to a professional meeting environment than a coffee shop, and this can be a huge benefit for businesses looking to win contracts.
- Facilities: Dedicated meeting rooms will have a much better range of facilities, making the experience much more pleasant for attendees and the meeting much more productive. This includes a reliable, fast internet connection that is likely to be vital for the meeting to progress.
What to look for in a meeting room
When investing in a meeting room, you want to make sure that it fits your requirements. Again, depending on how your session is structured and how many people are attending, your list of priorities will vary, but you will want to ensure it fits these basic criteria:
- It’s in a central location: Is it in a convenient, central location for participants? You want to ensure that it has good transport links.
- There’s enough space: Is there room for everyone to sit comfortably with laptops and space to give presentations?
- It’s a nice, bright environment: Are there plenty of windows and enough natural light?
Your meeting room also needs the right facilities, such as:
- WiFi: You need a quick and reliable connection for accessing documents, internet-dependent software and those who might be dialling in.
- Enough plug sockets: Can everyone charge or power the equipment that they need to use?
- Hybrid facilities: If you have people dialling in remotely, are speakers, cameras, microphones and projector screens available?
- Seating and desks: Are there enough chairs and desks for all participants to sit comfortably?
- Stationery: Equipment like whiteboards, markers, paper and pens are needed for group activities and note-taking.
- Refreshments and catering: Participants should have access to water and hot drinks throughout the course of the meeting. Does the venue provide food or are there places to eat nearby? 20 Bedford Way can provide a range of catering packages for conferences and meetings.
- Breakout spaces: You’ll want to break up the meeting with breakout sessions. Ensure there’s room at the venue to organise and run these. For more information on running breakout sessions, see our guide.
Host your meeting at 20 Bedford Way
As part of University College London, we’re more than just a venue. We know what productive learning looks like and our rooms are set up to maximise this for delegates. As well as including all of the facilities you might need, we can provide catering for your meetings and our experienced team is on hand to provide support and ensure everything runs smoothly.
We have 35 well-equipped rooms and meeting spaces for hire with a range of flexible delegate packages and rental time slots. Ranging from smaller seminar rooms to our 910-seat auditorium, Logan Hall, we have a space to suit any purpose. We also follow a venue sustainability strategy that allows you to deliver a meeting that aligns with your green business goals.
Located by Russell Square tube station, we’re just a ten-minute walk from Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras stations. This makes us the ideal meeting point for teams based in London, as well as those travelling into the city.
Contact our team by filling out our enquiry form, or call us on 020 7612 6143, to find out about our meeting room rates and to book your session today.