How to set up your home for a meeting

Hosting a business or professional meeting in your home can be both fun and trying. Filling this important need for your colleagues can be gratifying. But turning your home into a corporate center, even for just an hour or two, can be stressful. Here are a few suggestions that may help you get ready:

1. Create a business environment. Herd family members into another area of the house or perhaps out for the evening altogether. Put Fido in his kennel and turn off the phone. Keep distractions at bay while the meeting is in progress. Select and prepare the most suitable room for this purpose. For example, it may be your living room, family room, or dining room (if table space is needed). A den, library, or home office can work well for smaller groups of people. Tidy the room by dusting and vacuuming before guests arrive. Check lighting to avoid glare or dimness, and adjust the temperature for a comfortable feel.

2. Arrange a meeting format. Using either a table or comfortable chairs, set these in a circular formation for unimpeded interaction. Or arrange chairs around a table if writing or reading tasks will take place. Depending on the formality of the meeting, you may want to have snacks available on side tables or end tables.

3. Provide supplies. Writing tablets, pens or pencils, and handouts, if needed, should be available when group members arrive. If members bring personal laptop computers, check in advance for plug-in capabilities unless they plan to run their computers off batteries for the meeting. If you are in charge of organizing the meeting (as opposed to merely hosting it), prepare a typed agenda and have copies ready.

4. Set up a place for coats, hats, and accessories, such as a spare bedroom if your coat closet will not hold them all. If you prefer that visitors remove their shoes after entering the house, have a place for them to sit down and do this, especially if there are aged or disabled guests. Point out the area for overshoes or boots, along with umbrellas, to be left.

5. Indicate where the amenities are located. Tell folks ahead of time about parking arrangements. Make sure the bathroom is clean and scented, with fresh hand towels, and tell folks at the outset where it’s located. You also may want to have a telephone handy for meeting use or messages, unless members plan to bring their cell phones.

6. Offer refreshments. Usually it is a good idea to provide coffee and tea or soda (unless it is a late evening meeting), along with a low-calorie snack such as cheese and crackers, pretzels, or veggies and dip. Or you can forget the health-conscious approach and go for broke with rich brownies or home-baked cookies if there’s time.

7. Run the meeting as you would at work. While the general tone may be more informal, don’t let proceedings lapse. Follow the agenda and appoint someone to take minutes. Cover the usual business in a serious manner. Have the secretary record proceedings and distribute the minutes later. After the meeting adjourns, you may want to extend the get-together to a short time of socialization with the refreshments, but indicate this on the agenda so attendees know when to leave.

Hosting a meeting at home is not difficult, but it does require a few arrangements in advance and during the event. Follow tips like these to ensure that you (and your home) will make a good impression and get good results.

Hosting a meeting at home

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