6 Tips to Optimize Your Next Offsite Meeting


It’s easy to get into a rut with offsite meetings that occur annually or more often. To get full engagement from your team and optimize the return on investment, Jessica Doucette, who directs marketing and B2B events at Impartner Software in Salt Lake City, offers these tips.

Set clear meeting goals.

Employees can’t take the right actions unless you set clear meeting goals before the offsite takes place. Setting goals will also help you choose a meeting framework, craft your agenda and keep everyone on track during the meeting.

Create the perfect agenda.

Your agenda should reflect and reinforce your meeting goals. It should be detailed. It should be broken down by key informational and action items and the allotted time to spend discussing each. But don’t cram your agenda. Most meeting agendas include four to 10 key initiatives. Besides informational and action items, the perfect agenda lists:

  • All attendees
  • Date and time of meeting
  • Location
  • Meeting’s purpose and desired outcomes
  • Any preparation attendees need to make beforehand

Nurture attendee engagement the whole way through.

Engagement doesn’t just mean sending an agenda before the meeting and sending a feedback survey the day after. You need to engage with each attendee before, during and after the scheduled meeting.

Before: Check in with each participant individually. Get their input on what they want to discuss and hope to get out of this meeting. Have them review the first draft of the planned agenda, and then send out the agenda, data and anything else they need to know before arriving. This is also
a good time to assign someone to jot down the post-meeting action items.

During: Know the group dynamics. Make sure the quiet personalities get involved and are able to voice their thoughts in between the presenters and attendees who are conversation-dominant. If needed, jump in and ask those who haven’t said anything to share their ideas or thoughts with the group, so everyone is participating and not sitting there listening.

After: Send out that feedback survey, along with the assigned action items, and schedule a follow-up offsite meeting to check in with everyone on their progress, review issues that have since come up and share feedback from their internal teams or departments.

Balance the human need for psychological safety and getting people out of their comfort zones.

As humans, we all need to feel safe in our environments. But in a work environment, you can’t just play it safe. In order for people to grow and decisions be made, you have to get some out of their comfort zones. So if you want your meeting to produce its desired outcomes, you have to find that balance between meeting the human need for psychological safety and challenging people. Holding your corporate business event at
an offsite location, but somewhere that’s still comfortable, and keeping them around known colleagues is one way to achieve said balance.

Don’t forget the food.

Ask your employees (or yourself) why they show up to a business meeting, and I guarantee more than half will tell you it’s for the free food. But please, don’t serve the same old cold deli sandwiches and fruit platters. Get creative with your food. Check out local restaurants and catering companies. Hire a food truck. If you’re really stuck on what to serve, just ask attendees what they want to eat.

Incorporate pleasure with work.

To keep everyone engaged, you have to break up the PowerPoint presentations and serious end-of-the-year numbers discussions with fun. You can easily meet your meeting goals and still have fun. Most business meeting venues make it easy to add recreation into the mix. Whatever you do, be sure to build time into your meeting agenda for some fun.

Book the right business meeting venue.

Most of your meeting budget will go toward renting a venue. And ultimately, the right venue will make or break your offsite business gathering. This means much of your meeting’s success depends on the venue you choose — feeling the pressure yet? Don’t let the pressure overwhelm you. Picking the right venue isn’t as tough as it sounds. Ask yourself the following questions to help you book the right meeting space:

  • Is the location close to where attendees live or work?
  • Is it near public transportation?
  • Is free parking available?
  • Do the layout and atmosphere match the type of meeting we’re wanting?
  • Do we have access to the latest technology?
  • What fun extras does this space offer?
  • Is this space within our budget?

Be sure to vet locations online, and then visit in person before reserving a meeting space.