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5 Ways to Determine Which Physical Environment is Best for Your Meeting

The physical environment of where you conduct your meeting such as the room shape, room temperature, walls, furniture, and seating arrangements may impact the outcome of your meeting because the interactions, between your participants and you, depend on it. Think of a meeting, that you attended, where you feel crowded because the room is too small, you sat with your back turned towards the presenter, participants unable to interact with each other because of barriers created by tables, specifically rolls of wide tables; not enough seats for everyone; you were unable to have a clear view of the presenter and unable to fully hear the presenter because you were sitting in the back or to the side of the room. I am sure that you can add other physical meeting problems to those stated here. These problems can be mitigated with an understanding of the importance of physical environment in holding a successful meeting. You will be able to understand which physical environment is best for your next meeting, after reading this article, because of the solutions that I presented here. Here are the five ways to mitigate the common physical environments that hinder meeting successes:

Room Shape

The physical design of the room that you selected to conduct you meeting is vital to your presentation because certain room shapes are more conducive to your ability to navigate between your participants and you during your presentation. For example if your meeting is informal, where your participants will need to work in groups or get up to walk around to perform certain activities, the room shape is less important. On the other hand, if your participant groups need to work in groups and post their group’s solutions to particular problems, after brainstorming, then a square or other shaped room design may be most appropriate than a rectangular room design which tends to pose challenges to the number of tables that you can fit in the room. However, if you are conducting a formal meeting (where parliamentary procedure rules apply) such as board of directors meetings for your corporation, school board members, corporate shareholders meetings, a rectangular room shape may be most appropriate.

Room Temperature

Participants are most unlikely to listen to your presentation if the room is too warm or too cold. It is important that you ensure the comfort of all participants to avoid distracters such as participants walking in and out of the room or complaining to each other about their discomfort. If you have a room of participants, the temperature of the room may be altered from the temperature of the room when it was empty because human bodies generate heat. Therefore, you must set your room temperature to be slightly below a normal room temperature to compensate for the additional heat that the participants’ bodies will generate.


Two problems with meeting walls are the location of the doors and windows in the room because they seem to be either placed on the center of the one or two walls of the meeting room. This is a problem because they tend to take away valuable wall space that could be use for posting groups’ solutions from group activities. The position of windows and doors can also dictate where you can place your presentation platform and your seating arrangement.


In most cases you will need tables for your meeting but chairs are not optional. Tables must be avoided if no activities are to take place during your presentation because tables tend to create a wall between you and your audience, specifically square or oblong tables. You don’t want your meeting participants shuffling papers or passing notes to other participants during your meeting. Tables also cause unnecessary challenges for participants that have to leave the room to answer the phone or attend to other emergencies. However, if you have to use tables for group activities, I recommend that you use round tables because it shortens the distance between participants and heightens group involvement. Other table shapes maybe most appropriate where there is no group activities needed.

Seating arrangement

The type of your presentation will dictate the seating arrangements that are best for your participants. You can elect to use a “T” shaped table configuration for your seating arrangement or a “U” shape arrangement for information disseminating meetings. If you use a “T” arrangement, ensure that you sit at the top of the “T” so that participants can focus their attention on you and your presentation. Unlike a “T” arrangement, you must sit on the bottom of the “U” shape configuration in order to direct attention to you, and away from unnecessary distractions.

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About John Alizor

John O. Alizor, Ph.D., currently runs workshops and seminars on leadership as the founder and president of John Alizor, Ph.D., Leadership Forensics Business Consulting, Inc. He has an extensive background in education administration and business leadership roles including making his first million dollars as the head of a manufacturing company. He is sharing his leadership…