How to host productive meetings

Meetings and conferences are changing all the time and people want more flexibility and adaptability from venues. Kim Roberts, Operations Director at The Forum Company, has some key points to keep in mind before you start planning.

An on-arrival breakfast is the best way to kick-off a meeting or conference, as it will help to keep people sustained and working at their optimum. Food is a major part of a successful day, so instead of pastries and bread, opt for brain food such as fruit, smoothies, juices, nuts and more.

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Create a drinks station with tea and coffee, but also enough water and cordials to keep people replenished throughout the day.

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A good Wi-Fi connection and an agenda for the day are both vital starting points. Make sure that the venue also has surround sound and top-end technology and request that well-trained staff to be on hand to assist, if needed.

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Brainstorm sessions should be fun and creative. You want people to interact easily and share ideas and the venue needs to be conducive to this.

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A good group brainstorm session will help to increase creativity and generate various talking points for discussion later on in the day.

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For mid-morning tea, you might want to include snacks that are fun or a bit different to the norm. You could also tie in your food with the theme for the day.

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Remember that a conference is an entire experience and therefore needs to be inspiring for guests – particularly in terms of speakers and content.

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An on-the-go lunch allows guests some time to catch up on work, emails or phone calls. For those who prefer to simply take a breather, make sure that the venue offers outside spaces for guests to get some sun and fresh air.

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If you choose to have a seated lunch (particularly if you have guests from overseas or around the country), food needs to be seasonal. Choose healthy options and make sure that you cater for all tastes and intolerances.

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After lunch is a good time to breakaway into smaller groups for meetings and discussions. Breakaway spaces need to be close to the main venue to maximise on time.

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Most importantly, the space you choose needs to have enough safe areas for charging phones and laptops, plus be flexible and adaptable for guests’ needs.

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Networking breaks are also extremely important – especially if your meeting is part of a bigger conference with other people from your company or industry. You could also choose to have this in the evening, to give people more time to mingle and network.

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