Tips, Videos, Handouts

Meeting Room First Impressions Matter

Just before a meeting with a nonprofit board of directors, Craig takes us on a quick tour of the meeting room setup and explains how good first impressions help build professional credibility and trust in the process.

Also check out these other room setup resources: this video from a nice room in Rhode Island, and this room setup handout that we often share with clients when planning meetings.

Here’s what Craig says in the video:

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here, standing outside a meeting room that I just set up. I am here in Princeton, Maine. I’m about to meet with a group called The Downeast Lakes Land Trust. It’s a board of directors, and we’re going to make plans for their future. I have never met anyone on this board, this is my first time meeting them. Of course we had a conference call and planned out the meeting and they decided to hire me. But the first time that I meet them, the first time they walk into a Craig Freshley meeting room, I want them to have a really good impression. Let’s go take a look at what I set up.

I want them to have the impression that this is a professional setup. That this is going to be a good meeting. That this guy that we hired to run our meeting – he knows what he’s doing; this is going to be cool.

There’s a welcome slide that has their name and logo on it. There is a place setting for each one of them (no more, no less; I know exactly how many people to expect) and for each one I have a name tent, a printed agenda, some markers, and some colored paper all ready to go. We’re going to use this colored paper up here on the wall. I’m going to ask them to write their ideas and we’re going to put them all up on the wall, and we’re going to make their plan for the next five years right here. I have my little station setup with my projector and the screen. I’m going to take notes right on the screen.

I’ve given each of them an agenda, but I’ve also provided a copy right at the front of the room so we can all see all day long exactly where we are in the agenda and what’s coming next. Here is their mission statement, the most important thing for a nonprofit organization, front and center throughout the whole meeting. Over here I’ve got my ground rules ready to reveal and explain. Behind that, I’ve got extra sheets of paper for whatever we might need.

I have come to believe that the impression made when somebody first walks into a meeting room actually has an impact on how well the meeting goes. A lot of people walk into a meeting like this and they are already skeptical. They’re afraid that this is going to be a waste of time. And so right from the get-go I am assuring them that this is not going to be a waste of time; that we are going to make good group decisions.

2 thoughts on “Meeting Room First Impressions Matter

  1. Excellent points, Craig. People like to know that the facilitator has done their background work to get to know the group, and can anticipate what their needs are throughout the day.

    You’ve also made participants feel welcomed and valued, in perhaps, a small way, by preparing a name tent for them, and providing each person with a printed agenda, markers, paper etc.

    You have set the tone for a productive meeting. Thanks for sharing.

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