The Evolution of Corporate Meetings: From Boardrooms to Unique Venues
The typical business meeting is one that most modern working people are familiar with. It’s depicted in our media, used in our governments, and a part of many people’s everyday work lives. But why do our meetings look the way they do, and how have they changed in terms of venue from traditional boardrooms to more interesting and unique venues?
Here’s what you need to know about the evolution of corporate meetings from ancient Greece to Zoom.
A Brief History of Meetings
The ancient Greeks developed the first known public forums, called Agora (now translated as “meeting place,” interestingly enough). In the Agora of a city, philosophers, politicians, students, and other citizens would meet regularly to discuss the latest educational and theoretical topics and hold discussions on important government matters. Agoras were the scene of public voting and lawmaking, which is why the concept was later brought into and evolved upon by the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire is where we actually get the word “forum,” which comes from the Latin “foris,” meaning door. The word meant something similar to an outdoor market or, again, a meeting place. In the Forum’s center was the Curia, a designated meeting spot for the Senate, the governing power of the Empire and, at the time, the most powerful political body in Europe and the surrounding regions. The Senate had strict rules for meetings, including a hierarchical speaking pattern and regular, recorded orders of business. Senators would vote for major issues by physically moving to the side of the Curia with the party they agreed with - this is where we get “making a motion” in a business or political sense.
Modern meetings are structured similarly to Roman Senate meetings in many countries and are largely based on a set of standardized rules recorded and compiled by an engineering officer from the United States in 1876 named Henry Martyn Robert. Robert’s Rules of Order is now considered a standard for executive business and political meetings and is designed to allow for an organized, equitable, and productive meeting that covers a wide range of topics and addresses issues directly.
The Evolution of Meeting Venues
As early as the 17th century, businesses were growing large enough that one person could not manage them alone, and so they were often run by small groups of invested individuals - those who had an important role in its function or provided necessary funding and therefore had a stake in the company’s success. This group would meet around larger tables to have their meetings, in individuals’ homes, local dining halls, political meeting halls, or other similar venues. These tables were often referred to as a board, and over time, this name came to be associated not with the tables themselves but with the committee that met around them.
As businesses expanded in the early part of the 20th century, following the Industrial Revolution and into the modern era, they began to find that meeting in a small office or local public space was inconvenient; there wasn’t enough room and the business they had to share was private, usually proprietary to the company and at risk of being stolen by competitors. This is why, around the 1950s and 1960s, offices began to structure themselves with not only regular office spaces for everyday work but also larger, designated meeting spaces that could accommodate larger groups of people. These rooms became known as boardrooms, as they were where boards of directors often met.
In our current world, meetings are beginning to evolve to match the technology we have available to us. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have embraced remote cooperation alongside standard office setups. Digital and hybrid meetings - meetings that happen online and in person simultaneously - have become the norm for many companies and often take place via digital meeting software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet. That being said, traditional, in-person meetings are still the standard and, in the opinions of many, most effective methods for conducting important business such as discussing mergers, planning and executing large-scale deals and launches, and organizing company structure. It is well known that nothing really beats how effective face-to-face meetings still are!
The Benefits of a Unique Meeting Venue
Many modern businesses have found that their in-person meetings are more impactful and effective if they’re held in unique venues that offer something interesting for meeting attendees that can’t be accessed via digital call. The Washington Post reported in 2022 in-person meetings were up to 34 times as effective than digital correspondence and more than 8 in 10 executives preferred in-person meetings to virtual ones.
According to the Event Leadership Institute, unconventional or particularly unique meeting venues can have a wide range of benefits from creative inspiration to a poignant memorability that can leave you and your clients and business partners with a more positive view of both each other and the issues at hand.
Unique venues for meetings offer a chance for your team to escape the everyday grind of the office and enjoy a refresh in scenery. This can help to remove previously unconsidered blocks and stagnation from your process and offer inspiration and room for your team to think creatively and experiment with new methods of addressing issues. Aesthetically pleasing venues or venues with rich histories are especially valuable in this respect in that they offer a strong sense of value that might help a potential client or business partner both feel justified in their investment in the meeting and believe that you and your business genuinely care about their needs and time, offering value to any dealings you propose.
A well-conducted meeting has, for centuries, been the go-to way to address personal, political, or business dealings with grace, style, and organization. Though these meetings are evolving to include digital elements that help us stay connected around the globe, in-person meetings still hold a value that can’t be matched and offer a refreshing change of pace to everyday office work.
If your company is looking for a venue for your next important meeting or event, consider The Box SF. The Box SF, located in the heart of San Francisco in a historic mercantile building, is a gorgeous venue designed with five unique event rooms that are perfect for business meetings, luncheons, and other special events with up to 100 participants. Not only that but there is an on-site antique ephemera and paper store containing 15 million pieces of rare printed history and displays dating back to 1700 with 11 rare letterpresses dating back to 1837., This means in addition to spectacular and unique meeting spaces on the upper floors, that The Pressroom and Mercantile at The Box SF can offer your guests access to historic and one of a kind exclusive and often rare printed history in a museum-like Store. . You can contact The Box SF today to plan your next meeting, training, pop-up or event in style.