Last May while attending the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City, I participated in a seminar: “Shaping the City with Dwell.” Or at least I think I did. This program was held in a funky tent structure in the Javits Center beneath a gigantic exhaust fan.
Deafened by a maniacal, roaring hum, I strained for half an hour to hear the intricacies of reshaping urban design before being driven out into the convention hall. By contrast, the next ICFF program – “Italian Creativity, Future Perfect” – was held in a normal, non-tent meeting room off of the main show floor. In this session, it was much easier to hear, comprehend, and learn.
As an editor for Buildings and BI-Buildings Interiors over the last six years, I have attended countless meetings, seminars, conferences, discussions, and roundtables. Some meetings were good; others were long, uncomfortable, and noisy. And I am sure my faithful readers have had their share of less-than-fruitful meetings.
Recently, we offered a poll question to our readers on Buildings.com: “What are the most important components of a productive meeting?” One online respondent wrote: “[The most important factors are] speakers who have made the effort to carefully prepare their presentations, including timing them so they don’t go over their share of the agenda and staying on topic; helping to maintain the momentum of the meeting; and keeping the energy level of attendees high.”
Fifty-two percent of respondents ranked having well-prepared speakers as the most important factor for a successful meeting. Having a specific agenda, a wide assortment of snacks and beverages, and good supporting materials – in that order – were also ranked high.
For quite a while, I wanted to tackle how facilities managers can change the physical environment to create conference rooms that promote learning and collaboration. From high-tech audio-visual equipment to a nice cushy chair, this BI-Buildings Interiors section will examine how facilities managers can facilitate successful meetings through design, as well as provide tips to improve your own meetings. While there are limits to what anyone can do about chatty speakers and stale pretzels, BI offers examples of meeting spaces that work.
– Regina Raiford Babcock, Senior Editor