Would you rather spend the next three hours in Conference Room B or The Alpine Room? It probably doesn’t matter to you what the cornballs who actually put stuff in the ”suggestion box“ decided to name the conference rooms. You know it’s just another meeting.

Sometimes companies actually follow up on these names by decorating the room accordingly. This lends a little character to the typically drab conference room. More often the room is named for what can be seen outside the window.
I have worked in great rooms like ”Bayview“ and ”Riverside“ and, duh, ”Skyline“ recently. Funny thing, there was nothing inside the room to distinguish one room from the others though I could see some buildings from the Skyline Room. It probably impresses clients and potential employees to be escorted to ”The Eagle’s Nest“ (didn’t Hitler use that one?) to conduct business rather than be shown to Conference Room C.

Okay, I’ll give you folks who rename your conference rooms some credit for trying to reduce the drain of everyday office life.  You get a D. For those who actually try to make a Tahitian Room look tropical, you get a D-. Who wants to conduct business in a luau setting? Do I keep my shirt on? Should I wear a parka to my important meeting in your Alpine Room?

Look, the name isn’t the point. I understand what you’re trying to do but you’re not doing it. Do this instead.

Go to Target or Wal*Mart or Office Depot and spend a whopping $150 on neat stuff that will actually generate some creative thought at your meetings—unless you don’t want creative thought. In that case you can put out legal pads (must be yellow) and black pens. But if you do want creativity and energy to abound at your meetings pick up these items:

  1. A timer. All meeting rooms must have a timer. A one hour meeting should last one hour. Get a quiet, digital timer. Actually use it.
  2. Different sizes and colors of post-it notes. Get lots of these.
  3. Colored Index Cards
  4. Colored Marker Pens
  5. Sheets of Poster Board (Large around 3’x 3’)
  6. Tape assortment (Masking, Duct (Duck?), clear)
  7. Glue (White glue is fine)
  8. Playdough (or clay if you want to get fancy)
  9. Sheets of plain white paper
  10. Rulers
  11. Scissors 
  12. Crayons
  13. Cheap ($2) calculators—the big, cheap, solar kind
Next time you have a meeting with a problem to solve, have this stuff out and watch what happens. You’ll not only get the answers you’re looking for, you’ll get brilliant suggestions for other improvements. Your meeting will end on time and people will leave the meeting fired up. It takes a little practice to get this stuff started but once people know it’s ok, the ideas will flow.
Why? Some people prefer to show you an answer rather than explain one. Give them a few simple, inexpensive tools and they will do so.
It’s not about what you call the room or how you decorate it; it’s about what you accomplish within the walls.
Shameless Promotion: If this is done right you’ll get great results. Do it wrong, and just like kids, somebody will get an eye poked with the scissors. Often these kinds of ideas are best introduced by an outsider. (Hint, hint)
Chris Reich— [email protected]
Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog