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MLP 052: 13 Practical Questions To Answer Before You Book A Meeting Room

Preparation is key for meeting leaders who want to get the absolute most out of every discussion.

Well-planned agendas help you stay the course in meetings, but the most experienced meeting leaders know mishaps can derail even the most thorough planning.

Episode #052 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast will ask the important practical questions that separate facilitators:

  1. Do I need to book the room?

  2. Is the room too hot or too cold?

  3. Is the room clean?

  4. Does the room have a projector, screen, sound system, and computer connections?

  5. What is the phone number for the audiovisual technician?

  6. Do we need a conference speaker or a device for video calls?

  7. Do we need flip charts, markers, pens, pads, or sticky notes?

  8. Are the chairs in working order?

  9. Does the table move?

  10. Where are the electrical outlets?

  11. Do we need wireless Internet? What’s the WiFi password?

  12. Do we need to order refreshments?

  13. Does anyone in attendance have special dietary restrictions?

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

00:00 – Show opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach, with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:28 – Podcast starts here

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I just want to say thank you so much for being here. So, whether you’re on the treadmill, or maybe you’re driving around in the car, wherever you are, the fact that you’re taking time to listen to this podcast to get the practical tips that you need to build your leadership skills, to find more strategies that you can bring in to make your next meeting way more productive and way more profitable, well, I really appreciate that you’re choosing this podcast to get that type of information. And today we’re going to talk about something that every meeting leader must deal with. Because today we’re going to get into 13 practical questions to answer before you book a meeting room. And it’s the before part that we all know we need to do, but often we don’t know where to get started.

01:12 – Question 1 – Do I need to book the room?

What does happen though is we get 10 minutes into the meeting and somebody hasn’t figured out how to work the projector. Well, today we’re going to go over these questions so that you can then turn them into actionable items and get all of that stuff out of the way so that when your meeting starts it starts. And now I’m going to jump right in with the first question which is this, do we need to book the room?

Now, this might not be an issue for many places, but in some places that I’ve worked, I can tell you, there’s usually like a signup sheet on the door where you put your name on when you’re going to be there, or there might even be like an online calendar that everybody there has access to. Well, so often the reality of these situations is that the communication is poor. So, you think you’re showing up at the time that you booked, but maybe somebody else is in there, especially the boss. They often like to run in and they’re having a sidebar meeting and they’ll go, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were coming in.” And you’ve got to deal with that kind of awkwardness.

02:07 – Question 2 – Is the room too hot or too cold?

If you really know how things work where you are, then as a meeting leader who wants your meeting to be successful, you will make the effort to ask this question and really ensure that that room is available for you and your entire team. And once you’ve got the room booked, then you really have to start getting the room ready. So you have to ask questions like this. Is the room too hot or too cold? I can tell you as a facilitator, I prefer a little bit too cold because it keeps people awake, and if it’s going to be too hot, you want to make sure you do something about it. Like, can you open a window or get a fan in there? What can you do to get the room temperature exactly right for your people who are meeting?

02:43 – Question 3 – Is the room clean?

And another great question to ask in advance is, is the room clean? I mean, this really gets down to basic values of how we want to treat each other on the team. And if you’ve got those coffee cup stains, or there’s old papers lying around on the desk and you need to clean up when you walk in, as a meeting leader, that’s really an indicator about how you want people to feel when they walk in the room. It is absolutely worthwhile to get in there early and make sure it is neat and tidy.

03:10 – Question 4 – Does the room have a projector, screen, soundsystem, and computer connections?

And of course there are the dreaded technical considerations. So you have to ask, does this room have a projector? Does it have a screen? Does it have a sound system? Are the connections there for the computers? These questions are absolutely critical to answer because we’ve all been there. You’re 20 minutes in, somebody can’t get their PowerPoint slides up. Everybody’s kind of tapping their pens on the desk, and it’s an absolute waste of time.

03:34 – Question 5 – What is the phone number for the audiovisual technician?

And even though you’ve made every effort to get ready and answer those tech questions, the next question you’re going to ask is absolutely critical, which is, what is the phone number for the audio visual technician? Because even with our best efforts, sometimes things go wrong and you don’t want to be waiting too long to get the help that you need so you can continue having your terrific meeting. 

03:56 – Question 6 -Do we need a conference speaker or a device for video calls?

And another thing that’s happening in meetings these days is that not everybody is actually physically present. So you have to ask, do we need a conference speaker phone? Do we need like a laptop to bring somebody in on a Zoom or a Skype call and make sure that you’ve got those things there in advance.

04:10 – Question 7 – Do we need flipcharts, markers, pens, pads, or sticky notes?

And depending on the type of meeting you’re having, you also have to ask, do we need flip charts, markers, pens, pads, sticky notes? These are the kinds of things that can stimulate innovation discussions and they may be necessary for you to have a great meeting. And the next few questions are super practical but they are really worth getting answers for. And here’s the first one.

04:33 – Question 8 – Are the chairs in working order?

Are the chairs in working order? I can’t tell you how many board rooms I’ve been in where you sit down in your chair and you can’t get it to raise up or it’s tilted back and then suddenly you’re not participating in the meeting, you’re just talking about the chair. So make sure the chairs work. 

04:48 – Question 9 – Does the table move?

And another great question that’s related to the chairs that is really worth answering is, does the table move? Sometimes in meetings we have to be kind of in a circular type pattern, but if you’ve got any breakouts scenarios or that kind of thing, maybe you want to be in the type of room where it’s got little pods, like smaller tables that can be grouped together. Or if you’ve got a big conference room, sometimes those tables are locked down and you wanted to move them but you didn’t check in advance and you’ll get stuck.

05:19 – Question 10 – Where are the electrical outlets?

And if people are going to be bringing in their laptops, you may also want to ask, where are the electrical outlets? Because some people, they need to plug in those older laptops. 

05:25 – Question 11 – Do we need wireless Internet? What’s the WiFi password?

You also might want to ask, do we need wireless internet access? And what is the WiFi password? And what’s the code and can we actually get in there and make it work? That’s one of those ones that I would actually definitely get there early and make sure that it’s working so when people arrive, you know that everyone’s going to be happy about it.

05:44 – Question 12 – Do we need to order refreshments?

And if you’re going to be having a longer meeting, you may want to ask, do we need to order refreshments? 

05:51 – Question 13 – Does anyone in attendance have special dietary restrictions?

And if so, does anybody have any special dietary considerations? Are they gluten free? Vegetarian? If you order the muffins, do you need to order all different kinds of muffins in this kind of thing? And this level of detail, if you’re a really strong meeting leader, you know the value of really being able to connect in this way with specific people on your team.

06:07  – Recap of 13 practical questions to  ask yourself before a meeting

And let me take a moment to recap the 13 practical questions to answer before you book a meeting room. Number one, do we need to book the room? Number two, is the room too hot or too cold? Number three, is the room clean? Number four, does the room have a projector, screen, sound system and connections for computers? Number five, what is the phone number for the audio visual technician? Number six, do we need a speaker phone? Number seven, do we need flip charts, markers, pens, pads, and sticky notes? Number eight, are the chairs in working order? Number nine, does the table move? Number 10, where are the electrical outlets? Number 11, do we need wireless internet access? Number 12, do we need to order refreshments. And number 13, does anybody have any special dietary considerations?

07:06 – More resources –  MLP 059, MLP 066, and MLP 070 (see: links section)

And don’t worry if you didn’t get a chance to write those down because they’re going to be available in the show notes for this episode, Episode 52. And you can get that by going to