Effective off-site meetings spur attendees into action, providing an ideal setting to come together on a plan, goal or general strategy. Getting out of the office for a meeting, which is something we always encourage in our facilitation training, is a nice change of pace, offering a more intimate and refreshing experience that can accommodate new ideas and perspectives.
However, a poorly planned off-site meeting can turn into a major time-waster. As a result, planners should be aware of the differences between off-site and on-site meetings and how to remain productive despite those differences.
Strive for Smaller Groups
An overstuffed off-site meeting can result in dozens of attendees struggling to get their ideas across, with a larger likelihood for lack of order and clear communication. As a result, strive for groups that are no more than a dozen or so people, but not less than five, or else you may lack diversity in ideas and approach.
The ideal group composition is that of a dozen or so diversely qualified attendees, with various experience and tenures. Ideally, they can converge their experience and knowledge into a productive result. If you need to convey the message to more people, consider holding off-site meetings for various teams on different days, or undergo time management training to better handle a large group of people.
Scout a Creative Location
A big benefit of off-site meetings is the allure of a meeting place beyond the office. A creative location, like a museum or hotel, lets attendees have fun and shows them the business isn’t overly rigid toward creative ideas. Be sure to scout the location prior, to make a game plan for any functions and general navigation.
A great off-site meeting can include a section of serious discussion in a conference section, followed or preceded by a fun activity like a venue tour or game. Mixing essential though potentially dull office work with off-site fun, shows impressive meeting skills, as an organizer.
According to one survey over 90 percent admit to daydreaming during a meeting and almost 40 percent have actually dozed off.
A new environment can help attendees see things in a different light, since shifting from their usual room, chair and office view into a different environment can be just the refreshing change they need. Consequently, the role of a creative location can be significant in bringing out new, innovative ideas.
Provide a Realistic Time and Schedule
Being several hours off from your schedule will annoy attendees, who may be forced to cancel dinner plans or more because of your lack of foresight. This can put attendees into an understandably sour mood and can sap potential for collaboration. Moods have a significant impact on collaborative potential.
Prevent schedule-based mishap by creating a detailed plan alongside the venue of choice. Consider travel to and from the site, in addition to how rigid you want the meeting to be. If you’re aiming for a more flexible, laid-back affair, then add extra time, just to be safe. Attendees are likelier to be more receptive to future off-site meetings, as well, if you have a reputation of providing accurate hours.
Give Proper Foresight on What to Expect
There’s no need to be vague about a meeting. Inform attendees about the details, including when the event starts, when it concludes and any materials they should bring. Include additional details, like if there is ample walking required or if the event is outdoors, so attendees can dress appropriately. Distribute this information via email any other platform that’s appropriate. Clarity can help avoid chaos, and confusion can lead to a lack of productivity.
Having a productive and fun off-site meeting is a great way for a business to develop new ideas and collaborative relationships. In an ideal off-site meeting setting, a fairly small group will have excellent clarity on their attendance at a creative venue with a balance of work and fun.
By Sarah Landrum
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