The meeting venue should have the following characteristics:
- It should be a relatively private and quiet place
- It should be able to hold the number of people you expect, seated comfortably.
- It should have a separate area that can be used as a"stage".
Anything else is a welcome addition:
- A TV that can be connected to a computer, or (even better), a projector.
- Room set up (or that the owners allow to be set up) in a "theatre"/"auditorium", "classroom" or "u-style" setting.
- Try to avoid the "conference", "banquet", and "hollow square" style settings:
- Try also to avoid settings where the audience is distributed unevenly in two or more completely different areas, or with obstacles between the audience and the location of the speaker:
|Different Audience Distributions||Obstacles|
- If you have the choice, try to make the entrance as far away from the speaking area as possible, to avoid distractions if someone enters or leaves the room during the meeting.
|Door at the back||Door in front|
When searching for a venue, have in mind that meetings will be around 2 hours long (to keep it on the safe side).
Some ideas for meeting venues:
- Rooms in schools, universities, libraries or other public buildings. Since we're a nonprofit, we don't charge any fees and our activity and meetings are of educational nature, these institutions may offer a meeting place for free. If you need that we write officially to some government or public institution in order to prove our nonprofit nature and to help you secure a room, we can do that. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you schedule the meeting time on an appropriate day, many restaurants or bars may be willing to let you have a room for free in exchange of people attending buying, for example, a drink, as otherwise during that day their place might be empty anyway. So it's a win-win: they get some customers, you get a private room for free.
- Some of the interested people might work in companies that can offer you a meeting place at their premises.
- If the club membership is small, you can even meet in someone else's home.
- If all else fails, you can rent a room for 2h and share the cost among all people that attend.
- If there's absolutely no other possibility and the weather allows it, you can also meet in a park. These outdoor meetings are actually sometimes done on purpose even by clubs that do have a nice meeting venue, as it gets people out of their comfort zones and it draws lots of curious people that may later sign on.
Remember that you're not alone and that you're not selling a product or service and dealing with "customers", but instead you're creating an environment that will help other people in their lives. Involve all the interested people in the venue search. You might get ideas and suggestions that you didn't even think of.
For the initial meeting, try to keep the opening costs as low as possible.