Space plays a critical role in great collaboration. A great space can inspire clear, innovative thinking. A poor space can suffocate that.
Part of picking a great venue is understanding the specific role that space will play in your process. Some of this is common sense — acknowledging things that we all inherently understand, but that we don’t always pay attention to. A quiet space with high ceilings and great natural light, for example, will make for a more powerful experience than one that’s dark and noisy. Some of it requires a more sophisticated understanding of group processes.
This checklist is meant to serve as a practical guide for finding venues for collaborative, participatory meetings that will best meet your needs. At the same time, we hope that studying and using this list will also help you understand the role that space plays in great collaborative processes. It encapsulates a lot of wisdom from several people experienced with organizing and designing these kinds of meetings.
This checklist is meant to be comprehensive, and we invite you to customize it as you see fit. Some of the content is purely logistical — is there parking at the venue, for example? Some of it encapsulates a lot of domain knowledge about designing these kinds of meetings — favoring an open layout versus classroom-style rooms, for example.
This checklist is in a Google Sheets document. To use, click on this link to go to Google Sheets, then select File > Make a copy… in the menu. This will make a copy of this spreadsheet in your Google account. You will then be able to customize it as much as you’d like. Some of the fields in the checklist have notes which explain their purpose. We recommend that you add this to your Google Drive templates library so that you can easily make copies of this for each of your event venues you’re investigating.
For calculating space dimensions needed for your meeting, we suggest two rule of thumbs. The first is to take the classroom-style capacity of a space, and divide it by four. For example, a room that fits 80 people seated classroom-style would accommodate 20 people in a collaborative gathering — assuming, of course, that you can move the tables and chairs around or entirely out of the way.
The second is to assume 150 square feet per participant. For example, a meeting for 20 people would require a space that’s 3,000 square feet. This is not a perfect calculation, as the actual dimensions (e.g. long versus square room) are important as well. But it will serve as a good rule-of-thumb.
- Jessica Ausinheiler
- Eugene Eric Kim
- Rebecca Petzel
- Julia Pinces
- Jeff Shults
Unless otherwise stated and to the extent possible under law, we dedicate this toolkit to the public domain.
April 16, 2019