Where to hold meetings: an 8-point guide

Posted on: August 2nd, 2010

Where should you hold meetings if you work from home? That was the subject of the discussion a couple of weeks ago, following guest writer, Alison Harmer’s post, entitled: “Is it time your freelance business had a ‘real’ office?

I thought it would be good to expand on this topic and write a post about it.  Like many freelancers, I work from home but I don’t invite clients there. So where is the best place to have meetings? Here’s an 8-point guide:

1. Go to your clients’ premises. They expect you to go to them anyhow, so I always find that’s the best course of action. Also, they will usually have a dedicated meeting room with a proper table, so you have the space you need if you’re showing designs/plans etc. And, if you need a screen and projector for a presentation, they’ll probably have all this, as long as they’re not a small outfit.

2. But what if your client is based a fair distance from you and they happen to be in your neck of the wods and want a meeeting? If it’s an important or formal meeting, I would suggest hiring a room from a serviced office company. There are lots around but the mains ones are Regus, Meeting VenuesAvanta and eoffice. Many of them will rent you a room on an ad hoc basis by the hour. It will make you look profressional and you will have access to all the facilities you need.

3. For those in London, if you or your client is a member of the Institute of Directors, you can have an informal business meeting in the open-plan space at their premises in Pall Mall, as long as there aren’t more than four of you. I’ve had a number of meetings there, and it’s free for members to use. If you need a more private space, they have small meetings rooms for hire.

4. Don’t meet in a coffee shop, pub or bar if you can help it. They are usually noisy, with background music, so it’s not conducive to a business discussion. If a client is briefing me for a writing project, I usually take my voice recorder, so the last thing I want is the client’s words of wisdom drowned out by  the dulcet tones of Lady Gaga or Florence and the Machine.

Having said that, I did have a meeting from 5pm to 6pm at Care Nero last week. There was only one other person in the place and I asked the staff to turn the music down (which they kindly did for me). Our voices did, however, get drowned out intermittently by the coffee bean grinder.

5. If you need to take lots of notes at your meeting, don’t hold it over a meal in a restaurant – even if it is a quiet venue. A client once suggested doing a website briefing session over lunch in a pub garden as it was such a lovely day. It was great to leave the office and enjoy a meal al fresco, but quite hard to take copious briefing notes while eating my salmon fishcakes.

6. Hotel lounges are usually good places to meet, as they tend to be quite hushed. In f act, I’ve got a meeting in a hotel lounge tomorrow. However, do be aware that others can overhear you. You’d be surprised just how often the person sitting at the next table is a  competitor or a journalist. If the hotel has a small meeting room, you’ll be better off hiring that if you want your discussions to remain confidential.

7. Join a business club, if your finances can stretch to it. They’re designed to be a place to hold business meetings and they’re also good for networking. I once met another freelancer in the Adam Street Club near The Strand. This is a club that attracts media and creative industry members. There’s also a newish business club in Fitzrovia called One Alfred Place. I haven’t been to it but I gather it’s worth checking out. This  seventh point might sound a bit London-centric but, if you do a Google search, you’ll find most major towns and cities will have a business club with meeting rooms available.

8. And, as I mentioned in my intro, don’t hold meetings in your home – for all the obvious reasons.

If you work from home, where’s your favourite place to meet clients?

4 Responses to “Where to hold meetings: an 8-point guide”

  1. Pawel @ Self Employed Cafe
    August 2nd, 2010

    Good points Carole.

    Another, often disregarded option is to simply use a phone / voip phone for a meeting (or skype for a video call), especially if you work remotely. I know it’s probably the least ideal one but sometimes there is no other way.

  2. Twitted by pawelgra77
    August 2nd, 2010

    [...] This post was Twitted by pawelgra77 [...]

  3. Freelance FactFile
    August 2nd, 2010

    Yes, the phone is good, too! The designer who designed this blog for me lives in the south of Spain so we did everything by phone.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Self Employed Cafe, Self Employed Cafe. Self Employed Cafe said: If you work from home, where's the best place to hold meetings? Find out here: http://bit.ly/cUdDQ3 RT @CaroleSeawert [...]

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