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Elements of an offsite meeting

Elements of a successful and memorable offsite meeting

Getting out of the office for an offsite meeting can enable memorable team building and serve as a powerful jumping-off point for pursuing short- and long-term goals. Getting to that Eureka!” moment can be tough amid the distractions and details of a typical working day. Next-level thinking happens when we shake up our routines and get out of the straightjackets of the roles and ruts we all fall into.
You know the word “hidebound”? It means being unable (or unwilling) to change in the face of stodgy tradition. It also pretty well describes just about every single one of us at one time or another—unable to see past the day-to-day, maybe even a little afraid of stepping outside the familiar.
We can get stuck as individuals, and we can get stuck as teams. A focused, constructive offsite meeting can set the tone for a more creative and successful trajectory. But they’re also a pretty big undertaking, and they don’t always go as well as they could.
Here are a few tips for making your offsite successful and memorable.
Know what you’re there to accomplish
We’ve all been there—the weekly meeting that drifts away from the agenda because of personal differences, unresolved issues, or just a general lack of focus in the room. It can be pretty demoralizing to feel we’ve wasted time, and that feeling is far worse if the team squanders the goodwill and shared possibility (not to mention the financial investment) of an offsite.
So it’s important going in to have a defined idea of what you’re there to do. Maybe you’re there to innovate and think outside the box. Or you’re hoping to get team buy-in on a big decision and how to implement it. You might be there to plan the near future, or even resolve a major conflict that’s getting in the way of happiness and productivity. Setting concrete goals in advance gives you the best chance of coming away with concrete benefits.
Plan ahead
Every great offsite meeting starts with a great planner, who’s able to look at the circumstances of the meeting with a clear eye and envision all the ways things might play out. This starts at home—with the culture of the team and your company, the size of the group attending, and the nature of the group (a more introverted team might benefit from some exercises designed to build bonds in a lighthearted fashion, for instance).
Then there’s all the all-important logistics of the meeting. We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we realize we’re trapped in a room too small for the assembled group, or feel that mid-afternoon lull settle in when a sandwich or cookie could make all the difference. Knowing the offsite venue, amenities, parking, technological offerings, and onsite support and troubleshooting are all primed to set you up for success can elevate the offsite into the stratosphere. And communicating details in advance to the team can give them a sense of positive anticipation and the comfort of knowing that they’re taken care of so they can bring their whole attention to the work at hand.
Pick the right meeting method
One of the common goals of an offsite is to inspire teams to think and behave differently. So you may need to shake up the ways you typically do things—even if they’re really effective in your usual process. In Zen Buddhism, teachers use stories, questions, and statements called koans in order to shake up a student’s thinking and expand their mind. You won’t need to reach Enlightenment to have a great offsite, but it’s a principle worth keeping in mind.
Generative and powerful meeting methods used by thought leaders today include: Six Thinking Hats, Co-design, Design Thinking, Journey Mapping, StrengthsFinder, SWOT Analysis, and EOS. Thinking through which one fits your group and objectives sets the stage for valuable, long-lasting, game-changing outcomes. You can learn much more about all these methods in our free e-book about offsite meetings.
Sweat the small stuff (then stop sweating)
The good news is that your team almost certainly shares a desire to do things differently, if only for a day. Yuval Noah Harari’s recent bestseller Sapiens describes how, not long ago, we spent our time traveling over wide swaths of territory, hunting and foraging and having different experiences pretty much every day. Feel a little stale at the office? It’s not your fault—you’re programmed for variety and creative solutions (on the plus side, there’s not likely to be a ferocious lion at your offsite).
Free up that creativity by dialing in on the details. Hand out prep packets for everyone participating to let them know what to expect. Maybe have a gathering or a happy hour before your offsite, to kick things off and spur a creative vibe. Plan out icebreakers, snack times, and all the supplies you might need for prototyping, laying out ideas on whiteboards, and keeping a record of what transpires—including what works and what doesn’t.
At Coco, we love hosting offsite meetings. Our spaces are designed to inspire creativity and collaboration, and our community managers are the best in the business at supporting the success of your event. Get in touch today to learn more about having your offsite at Coco.

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