Barefoot’s 16 Meeting Venue Must Haves

October 2022:

Have you ever been planning a big meeting when you realized that your usual office space just won’t cut it and you’ll need to rent out the perfect space to foster the best conversations? What are some of the things that you look for first in a great meeting venue?

We’ve facilitated many sessions and meetings at a variety of venues across Canada, and have compiled our top 16 things to look for when you’re looking to rent a venue for your meeting:
1. Free WiFi
Whether it’s to pull up a video, check an email, grab a document from the cloud, easy to connect and reliable WiFi is a must have.

2. Tables setup
Think about the table styles/setup that would best suit your conversation. Our go-to choice is always tables with wheels to allow for movement/flexibility, and half-round tables to encourage group conversations and breakouts!
Photo by Ivan Aleksic
3. Seating
Your seating needs will likely depend on the amount of participants and the context of your meeting. The things we look out for most are wheels to encourage movement and of course -comfortability!

4. Technology setup
Know exactly what sort of tech equipment you’ll need for your meeting prior to looking for a space, and make sure any potential venue is able to provide you with what you need. Just a few things we at Barefoot look for regularly includes:
  • Screen displays (via HDMI)
  • Hands free/cordless microphone
  • Easily adjustable sound system
5. Adjustable lighting
Ever felt the headache of being in a room that was “too bright”? if you’re planning a meeting that will last over a few hours, your participants will thank you for having lighting that’s easy on the eyes.
6. Natural light
Confirm if the venue has windows/how many. Confirm that the windows have easily adjustable blinds should you need to adjust lighting throughout your meeting!

7. Adjustable heating/cooling
Keep in mind the season and ask about heating/cooling systems as appropriate. Ask if you’re able to adjust the temperature in your space independent from the rest of the venue as well for the most flexibility!
Photo by Danielle Cerullo
8. Acoustics/sound proofing
Think about both what you want your participants to hear, and what you DON’T want your participants to hear. Does your voice project enough through the venue so that all participants will hear you? Are you able to hear sounds outside of the space that might distract participants?

9. Wheelchair accessibility
Confirm with the venue that everything you’ll need to use is accessible to wheelchair users. In addition to the room itself, this could include the entrance to the venue, washrooms, reception areas, etc. If you’re able to see the space, consider how spacious the area is to accommodate movement for wheelchairs.

10. Gender neutral washrooms
Washrooms will likely be among the first things you think to ask, but don’t forget to take note if gender neutral washrooms are available as well!

11. Parking
If participants will be driving to the venue, is there ample parking space close to the venue? Is the parking free and reliable?
12. Kitchenette/dedicated space for food
Is there a space where you can store food/drinks or setup water/coffee? If participants will be bringing their own drinks, will there be areas where they can refill water/etc.?

13. Onsite caterer/permission to cater
Appropriate snacks and drinks are important for any lengthy discussion. If you’re planning on having lunch, coffee, etc. as part of your meeting, be sure to check with the venue that either they’ll be able to cater your needs, or allow for you to bring in an outside caterer (along with any potential fees that may be added!)
Photo by Petr Magera
14. Square footage
Can the venue fit everyone comfortably? Does it allow any extra space for activities/movement that your meeting may require?

15. Wall space
If you rely on using flip-chart paper like we do, knowing how much wall space you can work with is always a top question! Confirm any policies surrounding tape on walls/etc. as well.

16. Geographic location
Is the venue convenient for all participants to get to? Try to be as central for participants as you can accommodate and consider how each of your participants might arrive at the space/any accommodations you may need to offer should you choose the venue.

Bonus: Dedicated contact person
Having a specific contact name, email and phone number to answer questions and help with any troubles might just be the one thing you remember most from a great venue. Most of our top venue picks all have a specific staff person we can reach out to directly with any venue related questions!
Have any of these points reminded you of a time where you booked a venue that didn’t turn out quite perfect? Feeling confident about making your next venue meeting the perfect experience for participants? Tag us on social media with your thoughts and stories!

The Barefoot Facilitation Team