Boards working on strategic planning or other governance priorities will frequently rent a private boardroom outside the organization’s offices. Whether the boardroom rental is at a resort hotel or a downtown office service, not all private boardrooms are equal.
As an external Board facilitator, I’ve had the opportunity to observe what makes good and bad meeting rooms. Here is what I for when booking an external boardroom location for the Board to meet in.
Keys to a good Boardroom rental
Boardroom shape. Long narrow rooms are the worst for communication and collaboration. To work together, Directors need to see and hear each other. Square and U-shaped (and round) are the best for achieving this. Therefore, ensuring a room is wide, not just long is important.
Ceiling height. Ceiling height is an element of size. A room with a high ceiling feels larger and more accommodating. A high ceiling creates a better sense of space. There is room for creativity and space for discussion. Of course, there is such a thing as too high. I once facilitated a meeting in an atrium! Fortunately, rooms like that are very unusual. There’s usually lots more wrong with them than just high ceilings.
Outside light – and a view. The best meeting rooms have outside light – and a unique view – a city, a lake, a forest. Windows are obviously key – the bigger the better. Skylights are good too. However, large windows facing a busy parking lot can be distracting. Also a problem are large windows that directly face the morning or afternoon sun. Both often lead to closing the drapes or curtains – which curtails the benefits of outside light. Meeting rooms facing an inside court or higher up seem to work well.
Control of the heat – and fresh air. Climate control is critical to meeting success. Hot, stuffy rooms sap energy and focus. It is better to have a room that is too cold than too hot. The ability to open doors and windows provides an additional element of control over the meeting environment. So check: is your room’s environment controlled individually or is it part of the overall building’s environment. If you don’t have direct control, does somebody in the facility have the control you need to ensure your Boardroom is comfortable.
Noise. External noise can shut down a meeting. Two recent examples. First, building renovations – a drill, grinder, sander or whatever, that reverberated throughout the high end hotel we were meeting in. Second, a Chamber of Commerce or some other gathering next door that included both crowd noise and an MC with microphone. Especially if you’re meeting at a hotel – check before you meet – what else is going on at the facility that could jeopardize the effectiveness of your meeting space.
Power outlets and technology tools. We’ve all been through this. Everyone wants to power their computer and of the five presenters, two are using Macs. Does the meeting room rental you’ve booked have the HDMI adapters necessary? Are there enough electrical outlets easily accessible for keeping laptops powered? Finally, if you’re renting a projector, where is it located? I just came from a meeting room where none of us could figure out how to power off the overhead mounted projector.
Flipcharts and markers. Are very old school, but still likely the most common tools for meeting facilitation. When I’m traveling I always carry extra markers. But I don’t carry flipcharts. Generally, I rely on the meeting co-ordinator or Board Secretary to make the arrangements. The key is what happens when the markers or the paper run out. My highest ratings go to facilities who can replace markers and paper in less than five minutes. So check before you book. Like so many other things here, running out of the most basic facilitation tools can seriously damage the results of a meeting.
The key to booking a successful meeting room rental is to stay logical. Light, sound and climate are key. Before agreeing to a boardroom rental, it’s worth ensuring all three are in good shape. A happy Board is good thing!
Jim Crocker is the founder and Chair of Boardroom Metrics. He is an experienced Director, CEO and Consultant to public, private and not-for-profit organizations. Jim facilitates and works with Boards, CEO’s and Leadership teams on governance effectiveness.