Making the room your own

James really should have moved the flipchart.
It wasn’t just the projector half-blinding him whenever he looked up from writing on it, or the fact that he had stumbled over it twice – they were simply the obvious clues.

The main reason was that it had imprisoned James in an invisible cell that restrained his movements at the front of the room. The gradual erosion of confidence and the increasing sense of stress was almost palpable.
The room was ganging up against James – not so much the people, it was the actual furniture! They had taken control of his meeting before James had even started, and he was still largely unaware of the fact.
Have you ever felt like James?
Rule 1: It is YOUR room.
And when you walk into your meeting room (wherever it is) your first action is to sort it out so that you will be able to facilitate the meeting comfortably from the outset.
  • Position the flipcharts so you can use them easily – or put them back against the wall so you can bring them out when you need them.
  • Give yourself space to move about, to direct people’s attention to the screen without getting in the way, to get to your notes, to move toward and away from participants.
  • Arrange the tables and chairs to enable you to get people easily engaged in whatever you have planned for them. Or get rid of the tables altogether.
  • Get the bits you need laid out so you can get to them easily, and don’t forget to place the waste-bin somewhere convenient.
  • Sort out the temperature, the lighting and the windows as you want them (or at least make sure you will be able to if you need to).
It will mean you will have to schedule some time before the attendees arrive, but it will be worth it.
And, if you find, part way through the meeting, that you are still not comfortable, then do not put up with it.
Move things around again so that you are comfortable and then carry on. This is equally important if you are simply doing a presentation or an exercise in the middle of the meeting. Take a moment to position things so that they will be comfortable to you.
You are leading this meeting/presentation – if you cannot control the furniture, what hope will you have with the attendees?

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