When it comes to what makes a meeting room work best for attendees, Dr. Paul O. Radde wrote the book -- literally. A well-known professional speaker and the author of Seating Matters: State of the Art Seating Arrangements (available at Radde's informative website, thrival.com), Radde says there are myriad ways planners can improve the attendee experience by fine-tuning the space surrounding them.
For example, "We've all seen those large meetings with attendees facing a stage with two big screens flat against the wall on either side of the lectern," says Radde. "But no one is looking at the speaker, just the screens. So try rounding off the seating so that people on the right are looking across the stage to a screen on the left side tilted toward them, and vice versa on the other side. That way everyone takes in the speaker."
Some more advice from Radde:
• If there is a sconce behind the speaker, unscrew or turn off the lights or the glare will obscure the speaker's face. Better yet, try to set up a drop-down track light to focus on the speaker.
• Let presenters know the color of the wallpaper in the room so they can dress accordingly and not blend in to the point that "all you see is a face and a tie," says Radde.
• If you're meeting and eating in the same room, avoid rounds larger than 6 feet or attendees will break down into groups of two and three talking among themselves, "with one or two out of the picture altogether."
• Be sure a presentation isn't given from a point in the room near a service door or other high-traffic area.