In my previous post on where should we meet, I have mentioned how I think meeting rooms should be designed. I only managed to change one room (out of 20) in my organization and you probably stuck with the same problem as well.
So today I would like to say what we CAN do while sitting in a traditional meeting room.
One size doesn’t fit all
Somewhere in the past, someone has designed the traditional meeting room, while imagining that meeting rooms would be used by a lecturer standing by the screen displaying a presentation.
If that was reality, then OK. However, reality is different, at least in High-Tech companies and specifically in R&D departments.
Most of the time meetings in meeting rooms, are done while the presenter is sitting down with her laptop, usually at the head of the table (the side that is far away from the screen). The presenter lectures from her sit and presents from her laptop on the big screen.
Did you notice what is wrong here? Imagine that you are one of the participants in the room. Now think where your head and sight are targeted to. Is that the screen direction OR the lecturer direction? Remember, the lecturer and the screen are in different directions.
Do you see what I mean? You either looking at the screen for conveying vitual information OR you are looking at the lecturer to get engaged with the lecture. I heard a lecture recently describing that looking at the speaker face while she speaks leverage your communication to 80% (as opposed to 20% where you don’t see her face, but just hear her voice). Amazing.
So what does it mean? It means that our information gathering during a meeting in traditional meeting rooms is poor.
What can we do about it…
Simply request the presenter to sit near the screen, even if it means the presenter would sit with her back to the screen. After all, the presenter has her laptop for presenting and she can see what everyone else can see.
I know there are many kind of meetings, dependeds on the type of the organization. However, many of the meetings in R&D groups, that require presentation (design, architecture, whatever) are of this kind (lecturer with a laptop, presenting). And BTW, the bigger the room, the poorer the communication engagement (plus you leave the meeting with hearting neck after moving it back and forth endless times between the screen and the presenter).
Think about it.