As businesses and organizations place a growing emphasis on their people, the role of an annual retreat changes and is becoming more important. Here are a few tips for ensuring your next retreat is the best one ever!

Choose the Right Space

For teams to truly disconnect from workplace distractions and be fully engaged, retreats need to be held offsite. No one will be talking about the “office conference room retreat” in 5 years. Finding a space with day-lighting and comfortable furniture is important. A relaxed, creative setting encourages teams to open up and is the perfect setting for connecting, reflection, and brainstorming.

Write an Effective Agenda

Design the retreat to ensure each team member is involved in the conversation. This means agenda topics must be relevant to the entire team. Take all other discussions off-line. To maximize the importance of the agenda topics, write the topics in question form. For example, instead of writing, “Discussion on Budget” try, “What are some ways we could reduce spending?”. Additionally, be sure to share the agenda a day or so prior to the meeting versus having your team see it for the first time when they arrive at the retreat. By doing this, your team is prepared with ideas and possible solutions before the day even begins.

Context Trumps Content

Rather than giving a presentation to the audience about Here’s How We’ve Done; consider planning a two-way idea exchange offering time to process the experience. More white space for teams to have conversations about what they’re learning contributes to higher levels of participation and info retention, and everyone will walk away with an understanding of how they can contribute to shared goals.

Schedule Frequent Breaks.

Frequent breaks are a must! Make it a point to break every 90 minutes and add it to your agenda. Breaks need to be short (7-10 minutes) and efficient. Ensure the team knows the meeting is starting back promptly. Having frequent, shorter breaks keeps participation levels higher and distractions lower.

Put an Action Plan in Place.

A plan for follow-up and accountability is critical to maximizing the planning and ideas generated during the retreat. Before the end of the day, make a point to create deadlines and assign members to action tasks. Discussing progress and holding each other accountable is the best way to see direct results from your retreat.

Meeting organizers must now consciously plan environments and agendas which make members of their team feel safe to learn and grow. Cheers to your best retreat ever!