You’re planning a training or off-site with your team. Everyone is excited to get out of the office and spend a couple of days together. You’ve gotten the budget approved – no easy feat – so you want to be certain to get the most from the time together.

3d check mark

You plan the agenda

3d check markAssign pre-work

3d check markOrder the food

3d check markArrange technology needed

3d check markSchedule the room…..

Ah, the room. This is where you are going to spend 8 to 18 hours together with your team – where you want things to happen. Good rich discussion, deepening relationships, new innovative thinking can happen IF you make sure you have a room with these 4 key details coverred!

  • Windows! Avoid a windowless room. Without natural light a room becomes a dark cave. Energy wains, people withdraw, tiredness creeps in. Your team members will respond in kind.
  • Table Arrangement! Make sure people can see each other. A single, long conference table limits conversation, and interaction to only the people next to, and across from each person. U-shaped, large square, large round tables build in interaction. And make sure there’s room to move. Crowding in a space limits movement and creates discomfort, and becomes distracting.
  • Lights! Keep them on. Even if there’s a presentation to be viewed, only turn the lights down (not off) and only when absolutely needed to view something on a screen. People become passive, momentum slows, and eye lids become heavy. Returning to paper and making sure people have handouts to reference insures you can keep the lights on and keep people engaged.
  • Get outside! Encourage people to leave the room at breaks and lunch. Beverages in the room – food outside of the room. Lunch in a different space. Encourage movement and interaction to keep energy flowing and to increase interaction among team members.

These may seem like “little details” that don’t matter and annoying to plan – but these little details will boost your meeting from good to great; creativity from new ideas to novel ideas, and encourage relationships to flourish. Making this additional investment as you plan your next off-site will prove to have significant pay-off!

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Think back on the last 3 offsite meetings you attended.  What sticks with you from those meetings?
  • Can table arrangement really be that important?  Test it out by changing the room setup for even the simplest of meetings and judge for your self.
  • Why do you think we leaders cram so much into an agenda for an offsite meeting?  How long can an adult focus?  Here’s an article to help with your research.