Logistics:Venue Checklist

From Facilitation Wiki
Revision as of 20:55, 4 July 2023 by Wikiadmin (talk | contribs) (→‎Security)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The basics

Ideally, a suitable meeting venue offers both a large space where the group can meet as a whole, as well as "break-out" spaces, where smaller sets of participants can have discussions and collaborate.

In particular, an optimal venue for a participatory event has...

Open, simple meeting spaces

  • A large, open main meeting space with capacity to seat all participants in a circle, oval or square arrangement of chairs in the main meeting area
    • A simple question to ask the venue is "how many chairs fit side-by-side on the long and shorter sides of the main room?"
    • An ideal main meeting room can support a circle, oval or square for twice the number of anticipated participants. This insures that multiple breakout conversations can be held simultaneously in the main meeting space.
    • No fixed-in-place furniture; collaborative events go better when participants face each other without any furniture between them
      • No tables for use with chairs; if space permits, shallow tables around the edge of the room can be good for participants to place belongings and supplies
      • No cords, cables or power strips taped to the floor
    • No columns in the main meeting area that block views across the room
  • Permission for organizers and participants to reconfigure the space by moving chairs around during the event
    • Easily movable chairs: lightweight and not inter-connected.
  • Ideally 1 breakout space/room per 10-12 participants
    • Breakout rooms should be easy to get to from the plenary space (on the same floor, in the same building)

Basic collaboration infrastructure

  • Empty/open walls, ideally with permission to use post-it notes on the walls.
  • Easels and flip-charts at non-usurious rates.
  • Both wall-mounted and movable whiteboards and pinboards can be useful but are not required
    • Fabric-based pinboards are not useful

Internet and audio basics

Accessible and inclusive design

  • Accessibility: are all meeting spaces fully accessible, in particular for mobility- and vision-impaired participants?
  • Gender-flexible rest rooms: do they have gender-neutral/gender-inclusive/single occupant restrooms?

Flexible dining options

  • Ideally meals happen in a different location than the main meeting room
  • Menu should support all dietary needs, including, potentially, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, Kosher, Halal, as well as allergies (e.g. peanuts or fish)
  • Meals should not require setup/take-down in the main room or in other critical meeting spaces
  • Buffet-style or boxed serving is preferred over plated/seated serving
  • For buffet-style or boxed lunches, ability for participants to form multiple queues (e.g. on both sides of serving tables) is a big difference maker

The following are not needed...

  • Projectors, screens or any other "presentation" technology
  • A stage of speaker platform
  • Any setup or arrangement for "panels"
  • Tables for participant laptops

Things to obtain for venue comparison

  • A floor plan that shows what space we have to work with, ideally with
  • A link to images of the event space
  • Confirm hours of access
    • Verify that organizers can be inside at least 1 hour (ideally 2 hours) before event start time and stay at least 1 hour after event end time
  • Information about access to meeting space and building security
    • Do participants have to sign in or pass through any security to enter?
      • Is any biometric data collected (including pictures)?
    • Are there security cameras in the space?
      • If so, where and how is the data stored? How long is it kept, etc.?
    • Is it easy to go outside for a smoke or fresh air?
    • Are there other access protocol considerations?
  • Any other venue guidelines, policies or constraints to be aware of

Other considerations

Costs and related policies

  • What is the base cost for the venue?
    • If you're lucky, you can find a free or cheap facility, but beware, as you often get what you pay for.
    • In most US/EU cities, 10-20 USD or EUR/person/day is a good price for rental, and we've gone as high as $40 USD or EUR/person/day.
    • Are there taxes or other local usage fees not included in the base cost?
  • What kind of deposit is required to secure the venue?
    • Are there any situations in which some or all of the deposit would not be returned after the event?
  • Are there any fees for internet access?
  • Are there any other potential costs we should be modeling or anticipating?
  • Cancellation or rescheduling: if you have to move your event dates or cancel outright, what happens with venue, including deposits, any penalties, and other responsibilities
  • Insurance requirements
    • Does the venue require any type of insurance coverage?
    • Can they provide it (i.e. by adding organizers to their insurance certificate)?
      • If so, what does it cost?
  • Are any discounts provided to nonprofit/NGO organizations?
  • What forms of payment are accepted?
  • Can supplies be shipped to the venue in advance?
    • If so, is there any charge for storage or handling?


  • Can you bring in your own food/catering, or are you obligated to use the facility's caterers?
  • Is there a fee for using non-approved caterers?
  • Are there any prohibitions on organizers bringing additional foodstuffs (snacks, candy, alternative beverages, etc)


  • Public transit: how reachable is the venue
  • Parking: Is there parking for anyone who drives, and if so, what is the per-vehicle cost?
  • Bike parking/storage: is there space for bicycles to be parked and locked?

Participant experience

  • Does the space have a “good vibe”?
    • Does it feel like a warm and inviting space to meet?
    • Natural light is always a plus
    • Any potential triggers with the type of space (religious, political, governmental affiliation)?
    • Depending on the season, how does heating or air conditioning work? Can we easily adjust during the meeting?
  • Any potential usage conflicts within the space?
    • If other people/orgs will be using the same or adjoining space, consider:
      • Can meeting conversations be overheard by non-participants?
      • Potential noise issues from adjacent meetings (applause, amplified audio, etc)
      • Resource conflicts (e.g. limited bathrooms, overloaded internet connection, or overtaxed service delivery for the facility)
  • External noise issues: Additional questions we have learned the hard way to ask...
    • Are there any loud external noise considerations, such as traffic, trains or planes passing by outside?
    • Is there any construction or any other noisy activities (lawn mowing, tree trimming, etc.) scheduled for the event days?
      • It is useful to find out if e.g. a new big building is going up nearby
      • Ask even though the venue is not highly like to know the answer very far in advance :)
    • These factors have wrecked events in the past.


When security needs and event threat model dictate, is the venue willing to discuss and support security needs, including:

  • Supporting anonymous/pseudonymous participation?
  • Genericizing any event signage?
  • Limiting access to the meeting room?