In planning for a negotiation, attention should be directed to the conference room and its setting. Overlooking this detail may concede the initiative to the other side. A few cautions are appropriate. Never allow the other party to place you in an uncomfortable chair or one facing the sun. The shape of the table is important. Seat your people around the team leader in such a way that they can maintain eye contact and direct communication with each other. Both teams are better off if there is symmetry of positions between their respective specialists, leader to leader, lawyer to lawyer, and expert to expert sitting opposite one another.
The size of the room should be scaled to the size of the meeting. A small group in a large area is intimidating. A large group in a small area makes it difficult to concentrate or work in. Each side should have enough room to spread its papers and documentation. It is essential to have nearby conference rooms to allow each side to discuss strategies in private. Having lunch and dinner facilities close by is helpful. Each side should be able to choose a place to eat away from the other if they wish to.
Finally, a few tips are useful to help make an effective presentation in the conference area. Choose a setting that will permit you to easily direct the other side’s attention to your presentation materials. Assure yourself of access to white or blackboards, markers or chalk, graphs, paper, overhead projectors, charts, computers, fax, copy machines, and computer graphics. If you fail to plan ahead for these items, you will not have them when the need arises. Check in advance whether the lighting and audio aspects of the room are adequate.
Oh yes, and don’t forget what I once forgot. Tell your people in which city you are going to negotiate. I once forgot to tell my pricing specialist in Los Angeles that we were negotiating in New York. He never showed up because he assumed we would negotiate in Los Angeles. Logistics are an important but often overlooked factor in maintaining the initiative, especially when you are far from home. Someone should be in charge of hotel arrangements, travel coordination, backup materials, charts, calculators, computers and other aids and comforts. This will allow the negotiator far from home better control of the bargaining process.