My Best Meeting Moment By Ryan Verhulst, Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel

Mix Up Seating to Get Attendees to Stretch Their Legs and Minds

Goal: Inspire Team to Pay Attention

Renaissance meetings typically use teamwork pods. Last fall, we had 50 people in a meeting. The goal was to keep everyone in the room for the whole time, because there was a lot of content. But you also acknowledge that they don’t want to sit at the table for the whole time. I try to look at the meeting room and think about how it can be done differently.

Figuring out these solutions is part of my motivation—I try to figure out how I can make it more fun.

Create a Space for Relaxing

In the back of the room, we set up high tables, chairs and sofas. We also had beverages set up. This was a place where they could mingle during their break times but also get up during the meeting, stretch their legs and check email. We all hate getting stuck at a table. You make every excuse to go out and stretch your legs, and you try to sneak out of the room.

‘It Always Takes That First Person’

Attendees were told up front to utilize the space, but it always takes that first person or two who are brave enough to try. Eventually, people started using it, and now we use a similar set-up for all our internal meetings. It’s a great way to keep people engaged. This eliminates people getting up to go to the bathroom and not returning for 30 minutes. Now, the only reason they leave the room is to actually go to the bathroom.

A Moving Experience

It’s harder to persuade some of our corporate clients to try this configuration, because they are worried it will take away from content. It’s a tougher sell. But we love it now. If I’m going to be in a meeting from 8am–5pm, I certainly want to be able to get up and do something a little different— even if it’s just moving to another chair or sofa. It keeps me more engaged. Figuring out these solutions is part of my motivation: I try to figure out how I can make it more fun.