In a recent interview, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that his company has “the weirdest meeting culture.” Bezos went on to explain that for every meeting at Amazon HQ, someone has to prepare a six-page, narratively structured memo (no bullet points allowed fyi). All participants then sit down together and read this document before any discussion is allowed to begin. One more thing – strictly no PowerPoint presentations.
It’s fair to say this approach is probably a little too extreme for your average organisation, however making an effort to host a productive meeting or conference is something everyone can get on-board with. At some point , we’ve all experienced a meeting that wasn’t the best use of our time.
With this in mind, we asked the experts at some of Bankside’s top meeting and conference venues about the factors you can control to guarantee productivity whilst using your time efficiently. Here’s what they had to say:
Do you all actually need to be present in the same room?
Travelling between venues and offices is sometimes unavoidable, but ask yourself the question whether this actually needs to be a face-to-face meeting. Top sustainable venue, 15Hatfields recommend an alternative option is to conduct the meeting via video conferencing or webcasting. You may still need to use the AV equipment at a venue but it is usually very reasonably priced and certainly cheaper than paying for 100 delegates for the day. Webcasting can effectively transmit your message to a potentially limitless number of people. The video conferencing suite at 15Hatfields can connect up to four different callers with the capability to share presentation and video worldwide.
Find the right environment that works for you
A windowless, functional meeting room will not inspire creative thinking or keep concentration levels going. Equally, the casual and relaxed vibes of a café won’t work when you realise the lunchtime rush starts in 10 minutes. Especially when it comes to the summer months, why not make the effort to book a meeting room with a view that also has outdoor breakout space. Take for example Coin Street Conference Centre – their rooms have floor to ceiling natural daylight and all delegates have access to their stunning rooftop terrace which provides a great setting for lunch. Blue Fin Venue also offers an assortment of tastefully designed meeting rooms that look directly over Tate Modern with access to two large landscaped terraces.
If you’re looking to create a relaxed atmosphere, citizenM Bankside offers inspiring but practical modern meeting rooms that break from tradition. All seven rooms have been cunningly designed as a series of contemporary living rooms, furnished with plush Vitra furniture, progressive art and wipe-clean walls which are perfect for creating large mind-maps. All rooms offer free Wi-Fi, have been installed with the latest high tech features and can accommodate numbers varying from 2 to 30 people.
Have a clear purpose and objective outlined from the onset
It’s perhaps the most basic tip but there’s nothing worse than going in blind to a meeting, so get your agenda sorted and circulate it to your delegates in advance. Attendees will then know what’s expected from them and are more likely to come prepared. Note in the agenda how long you plan to discuss each item for – this also helps set expectations about how much input is required from other participants.
When it comes to your larger meetings or conference events, it’s not just about forward planning. Glaziers Hall suggest that if you have any speakers, make sure their slides are online as soon as the event finishes. If you video the event, put individual talks up and circulate the access link. Doing these two things will allow people who may have missed part of the conference to re-engage and get more out of it. You can also publish the results of polls or other information to engage attendees post event. These are best presented in a single, well-organised location so that delegates do not have to search to find what they are looking for.
Avoid the carb-overload and afternoon slump
Take a break from the pastries and biscuits. It’s often hard to avoid these at business meetings but they’re neither nutritious or particularly good for you. Hilton Bankside however offers a healthier alternative, with a menu designed by their chef, Paul Bates. The menu features snacks as well as a healthy lunch. It’s designed to keep delegates awake and focused, with brain-boosting ingredients aplenty. So why not kick your meeting off with cereal bars and lemon and kiwi spritzers. When its break time, raw vegetables and mint yoghurt, plus apple, banana and soy shakes are on hand to keep you going.