Most, if not all, companies rely on regularly scheduled meetings to enhance communication and to make major decisions. Truthfully, these meetings are often boring. Meetings can be too long, too frequent, confusing, pointless, or all of the above.
While this may be true, meetings are still important. It may be more accurate to say that good meetings are still important. You should be doing everything in your power to make meetings both enjoyable and productive for all participants.
If you’ve been trying to improve your company’s meetings, try taking things outside. This simple change of venue opens up numerous opportunities that add flair and ingenuity to otherwise ordinary meetings. Let’s break down the benefits of outdoor meetings:
1. Great Lighting
Artificial light is still a long way away from replicating the warmth and energy radiated by the sun. While artificial light can be helpful in the winter for those who struggle with seasonal depression, the lighting found in a conference room isn’t always that great. This is the first area that goes in favor of the great outdoors.
Natural lighting is fantastic, which is why architecture for ages has been centered in part around windows, glass doors, and skylights. Natural light does wonders for both physical and mental health. It’s no secret that your team will work together more effectively when their health is being prioritized in ways like this.
The main drawback to sunlight is the glare. If your team likes to have their laptops on deck during a meeting, you must make a few accommodations. Still, that little extra effort is well-worth the positive benefits you’ll receive by getting some extra time outdoors. If you’re sitting out in the sun, you might also consider sunscreen!
2. Fresh Air
Another point in favor of the outside world is the air quality. With the exception of major cities with severe air pollution, breathing the air outside is so much more refreshing than being cooped up indoors. Fresh air isn’t just nice because it tastes or smells better or anything like that. This air can spur productivity in a number of ways.
The outside air can have a similar effect as natural sunlight. Both have been proven to increase energy and improve your mood. These two things are typically in short supply during a work meeting. It sure beats that stale office air, at the very least.
The only thing to really worry about here is the wind. Plan your outdoor meetings on days when wind speeds are expected to be low. Nobody needs their hair in their face or their papers strewn across the lawn during an important team meeting.
3. Wonderful Ambience
There’s something about being outside that beats sitting in an office meeting room. Maybe it’s the gentle breeze or the sound of birds in the distance if you listen closely. When compared to the drab walls of a conference room, this is almost always the preferred atmosphere.
This improvement in meeting location is more than just the aesthetic. The ambiance simply feels more positive and open. This can promote more positivity and openness in your team members. You might find them more likely to share their thoughts and ideas in these circumstances than they were otherwise.
When hosting an outdoor meeting, really lean into your surroundings. Position tables next to a bubbling fountain or place your projector screen between some shaded trees. If nothing else, your team will remember this meeting due to its uniqueness compared to what they’ve grown accustomed to.
4. Creative Opportunities
Meetings don’t have to be constrained to PowerPoint presentations and boring employee surveys. Employees will quickly disengage from a meeting that is more of a lecture than anything else. Participation is the key ingredient for a successful meeting. When holding a gathering outdoors, there’s much more room for creativity.
Try a team-building activity for your next outdoor meeting. Put together a scavenger hunt, a mini golf course, or any other kind of fun activity. Use this as a way to break the ice and bring your team together. Just keep it short, so you can cover the actual content of your meeting without using too much time.
The only true limit is your imagination. Your meeting can double as a picnic, a nature stroll, or even as the most productive fishing trip the world has ever seen. Experiment with ideas that aim to keep your employees engaged and connected while still accomplishing important business tasks.
5. Increased Space
This is an important point for small companies and large teams alike. Not all indoor meeting spaces are created equal. You’ll come across times when there simply isn’t enough room to comfortably fit your team and all of your meeting essentials into one meeting space.
Needless to say, there is a lot more room outside than there usually is inside. You can fit more desks, chairs, serving tables, and screens depending on what you hope to accomplish with your meeting. This extra space makes it possible to pursue some of the activities mentioned previously or simply ensure that there’s a seat for everyone in the organization.
Moving a meeting outside sure beats renting out an expensive meeting hall, especially if you repeatedly need the space. After a few outdoor meetings, you’ll have a good system in place so that setup and takedown isn’t even a concern. You can even assign roles to your team members, such as having the sales department be in charge of setting up chairs and the IT crew to get the projector screen rolling.
6. Varied Venues
The most convenient thing to do is to set up an outdoor meeting somewhere on your property. This is effective and acceptable. However, there is a benefit to taking your venue around the town every once in a while.
The key benefit here is the change of scenery. Each meeting takes place somewhere different, giving it a fresh and unique feel. This variation in meeting location can help spur new ideas and conversations that might not have formed in the regular old meeting hall.
Depending on the size of your meeting, you can take a short trip to a local park to set up shop or plan a mobile meeting where brainstorming is done on a walk. Each new place may have a different aspect that brings out the best in some of your team members when regular meetings have them feeling stagnant.
7. Face-to-Face Encounters
This last bullet point tackles the subject of remote meetings. In recent years, more and more people have been able to work from home. Instead of commuting to meetings, they Zoom in online to participate. Zoom meetings can be even more difficult to make enjoyable than office meetings. Planning the occasional outdoor event can be a happy medium.
Let’s say most of your remote workers live in the general vicinity but are not super close to your office. Once in a while, you can plan an outdoor meeting at a central location. Provide a meal and some social time, and your remote workers will have the opportunity to feel more unified with their team than ever.
It will be a long, long time before the corporate world gets rid of the meeting schedule — and that’s it they ever do. But as long as meetings continue to exist, you should do whatever you can to make them as enjoyable and effective as possible. Your company will be able to accomplish more, and your team members will feel less apprehensive toward meetings that pop up on their schedule.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by August de Richelieu; Pexels; Thank you!