Outdoor Meetings and Venues - The New Choice for a Post-Lockdown World?

Rob Newton 15 June 2021

Casting my mind back to January 2019, the Speakers Corner team decamped to Norfolk for our annual strategy away day . While the temperature gradually lowered the further we travelled from Liverpool Lime Street station, the rolling green countryside appeared. The team would nudge each other, pointing out cattle they had spotted on farms, tiny villages that came and went in the blink of an eye.

As we stepped off the train in North Norfolk, the stimulus needed for an action-packed couple of days was already with us. We bounded eagerly into the meeting room, ready to get started.

The pandemic has forced us to change our meeting habits. During lockdown, the golden hour was taken up exploring local neighbourhoods that previously we scuttled past. Outdoor parks and open spaces have become our sanctuary when hospitality venues were closed. And when lockdown ended, never have so many people braved the temperamental British spring weather to meet up with friends and family in pub garden.

For internal event organisers and meeting planners, there’s a dilemma to consider looking ahead to their future in-person events programme. It is generally considered that most of us are looking forward to getting back together and meeting in the live experience. But there are some reservations, not just from a health and safety perspective, but from a relationship building stance too.

The dilemma is how to find a venue, and create a content programme, that provides a real springboard for employees to move forwards, while solving all their concerns. Perhaps that can be solved by looking at venues which have a large outdoor space? After all, I think we’re all a little sick of being stuck indoors!

Even as we head into Autumn and Winter, provided attendees have plenty of notice to bring appropriate clothing, organisers can create breakout meetings and networking opportunities in the open air. Imagine going for an Autumnal walk, strategizing, imagining, bonding as a team, followed by a mulled glass of wine and hog roast!

Content still remains at the heart of your event. The stories and messages from an external keynote speaker who can inspire new thoughts, discussions, and pose questions to the audience, are a vital component of any event.

Whether the event is a leadership summit, a sales kick-off event, a strategy away day, team bonding experience etc, event organisers and meeting planners need to get their audience talking to one another.

When I was researching this blog post, I was reminded of a time, during our January 2019 strategy session, where the Speakers Corner team were divided into small groups. We each went out on a walk through the Norfolk countryside, discussing ideas we could take back and present to the team. Without a hierarchical table structure, the outdoor environment allowed everyone to have a voice.

What we found was each team member contributed to the discussion. This allowed them to take the lead and feed into the new creative ideas we came up with, who then took the lead to present back to the wider team, answering questions confidently and articulately. Some of those ideas were actioned back in the office.

The great outdoors has long been associated with many benefits to develop creative thinking. This article articulates the link between fresh air and creativity  far better than I can. It’s certainly worth reading and exploring the studies mentioned in the article further.

Now, for some readers, you might be a bit concerned that treading through the muddy countryside wouldn’t be practical. Well, we like to think we have a solution for every eventuality at Speakers Corner, so let me leave you with this statement I heard from a nursery teacher;

there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.”

Our team of experts are ready to help with some inspiring choices for your next event, so why not call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk Newsletter Sign Up

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