When I was studying for my CMP a few years ago, there were only a few seating options for your attendees, the meeting room was determined by the venue and the room conditions or setup were stagnant. Oh how the world has changed!
Nowadays, attendees want to learn from the presenter and others; whether they are in the room or virtually connected. With the onslaught of mobile devices, attendees now have the option to tune in or out of the conversation.
What does this have to do with room setup? Plenty! Check out these common missteps and what you can do to fix them.
Flub #1: Part of the Audience has Their Back to the Presenter.
Never, ever make this mistake – but yet I see it happen all the time. The venue wants to cram as many individuals into your space as possible to meet your guarantee, yet who suffers? The attendee! Don’t make them turn around.
Easy Fixes: Set in half-crescents if the room is large enough. Consider removing the tables. However, if you are serving food, beverages and attendees need to take notes, tables are a must.
If you cannot move your meeting space and attendees must have their back to the speaker, consider iPad rentals for second screens so the attendee can view the entire presentation from a tablet.
Flub #2: The Room is Too Hot or Too Cold.
Regardless of what session your attendees are in, room temperature is one of the overriding reasons meeting participants cannot learn. Most of the time, the room is very cold, but once in a while you find a venue that is too generous with the heat on a cold, snowy day.
Easy Fixes: Agree to a room temperature setting before your conference starts and write that temp into your contract and BEO (Banquet Event Order). Come to each room two hours before the event starts and check that the temp is set properly. Ask attendees to tweet any concerns they have from their Apple Mac rentals to you and put on the event hashtag so you and your event planning staff can address it right away.
Flub #3: The Room is Too Noisy.
This can be a real problem for meeting planners and a real quandary for venues. You booked the hotel conference center months ago and they did not tell you they were having a major renovation during your meeting. Or the landscaping company mows outside your event window at that time. Or you have a party in the next room.
Whatever it is, major noise is going to be problematic to your attendees. A speaker cannot compete with noise levels that are louder than they are.
Easy Fixes: Find out if the venue is planning on major renovations in the next few months or years. If they are, consider booking somewhere else. Put it in your contract that your meeting cannot be next to a party, celebration or competition. In addition, put in the contract that no landscaping, vacuuming or other noisy activities will occur during your meeting time.
Flub #4: The Room is Too Large or Too Small.
When the room is too large, you can have all kinds of problems with your sound system rental solution. Sound can bounce off the wall and create a hollow effect for the presenter. In addition, if you have a lot of empty chairs and tables in the room, it gives off the effect that the speaker is not worth the time.
On the flip side, when the room is too small and individuals do not have a place to sit down; late arrivals will not stay unless the message is compelling. In addition, these attendees will think less of your event planning skills.
Easy Fixes: Insist on a RSVP system for your event, including session choices. This can be easily completed by attendees through a mobile app before or at the session. Monitor activity constantly on your laptop rental and make changes dynamically. Plan for a 5% increase, which means if you have 50 chairs in the room, have your venue set for 55.