There are many reasons your meetings can be boring: the culprit may be the venue itself. It’s possible that your surroundings aren’t conducive to fostering new ideas or profitable discussions. If you look around the room and consistently notice eyes glazed over from a lack of interest it may be time to make some changes to your internal meetings.
Creating a setting for inspiration and creativity is not as hard as it sounds. A few changes can really make a big difference. Here are four simple ways you can alter the venue to improve blasé meetings.
Let the light in.
Sunlight can really help brighten the mood of a meeting. According to Architectural Lighting Magazine, the benefits of natural lighting are endless. “Daylighting has been touted for its many aesthetic and health benefits by designers and researchers alike. Scientists at the Lighting Research Center (LRC), in Troy, N.Y., for example, have reported that daylit environments increase occupant productivity and comfort, and provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms.”
If your conference room doesn’t have windows or there’s simply no way of letting in natural light, you may want to change locations. You could even take your meeting outside, if possible. The natural surrounding can really help with short-term memory and creativity. Finally, if there are no other options available, take frequent breaks to go outside. This can help you have a more productive meeting, because sitting and listening the whole time has a way of killing concentration.
Allow for eye contact.
Meetings tend to go better when everyone can see each other’s face and make eye contact. “The most challenging part of making eye contact in a group setting takes place when you are the one speaking,” Todd Smith, explains.
“It is imperative that you share your eye contact equally with everyone in the group. This action demonstrates that each person is important to you. It also communicates to them that you understand the importance of including them in the conversation.” If your conference room doesn’t allow for this, you may need to find a circular or U-shaped desk that enables everyone to see one another. Alternatively, if you don’t have a table or don’t need one, you can accomplish the same thing by adjusting your seating arrangement.
Add color to the walls.
Most meeting rooms are pretty boring: they tend to have blank, white walls with no pictures and no color. Do a little bit of a study on the science of colors before jumping right in and making your meeting room more engaging. It can really have a big impact on everyone’s mood.
Color “is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions. Certain colors have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain.” Good colors tend to be orange (for social interaction), as well as red and yellow (for creativity). Purple tends to be uplifting and calming, while blue and green are good for encouraging relaxation.
Random doodling and sketching has actually been shown to help with focus among some people. If you have trouble keeping your team engaged, encourage doodling during meetings.
Have plenty of pens and paper on hand. You can also create a desktop surface where your team can scribble with non-permanent markers. You do, of course, want to make sure no one is missing any critical details within the meeting, so encourage team members to doodle within reason and ensure that they’re not floating off into a different headspace altogether.
At our office, we give our conference rooms city names to add some flavor. We also try to meet in different rooms whenever possible. Standing up for a meeting versus sitting down can make a huge impact, and we incorporate both styles when appropriate. Finally, when weather permits, we always try to meet outside on the patio. It’s a great way to change things up and get some much-needed fresh air to talk things out.
If you tend to have meetings at the same place and same time every week, a little variety can go a long way. Fundamentally, it comes back to the purpose of the meeting: if the goal is to stimulate engagement and share profitable ideas, then you absolutely need to make your environment more appealing. Take a look at your venue and see how you can make it more interesting for everyone involved.
This article has been edited and condensed.
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