With Meeting Rooms, Size Isn't Everything

Often, meeting planners' evaluations of meeting rooms are limited to whether or not the rooms are large enough to hold a group.

But for those who truly want to produce an effective meeting, that's not enough, says Coleman Finkel, president of the Coleman Center, a full-service meeting facility in New York City.

"Planners typically will look at size, and not at the details of the room that are really important and impact the outcome of the meeting," Finkel says. "Furnishings, design, decor, and atmosphere of the room—the smell, sound, and color of it—should produce a total-immersion learning environment."

So how can one measure such things? Finkel has created a barometer designed to help planners determine if the design and ambiance of a meeting space are conducive to an effective meeting.

The barometer, offered free to planners who contact a staffer at the Coleman Center, consists of 14 different statements concerning a room's environment. Planners determine how well the room fits the statement by giving it a rating of one (low) to four (high). The statements cover everything from ceiling height to lighting to carpeting and more. For example, one statement reads, "Lighting is evenly spread throughout the room. No spots of light. No high and low shadows on walls. No sconces, chandeliers, or cove lighting."

Once planners complete the barometer, they can total their ratings to determine the quality of a space. A score of 50 to 56 is considered excellent; below 34 is deemed poor.

After a long corporate meetings career, Finkel founded the Coleman Center in 1992, and has written several books, including Plan Meetings Like a Professional and The Total Immersion Learning Environment.