How many times has your business group or service club met in the same room? As you look forward to the New Year, why not shake things up a bit and put some life back into your meeting? At least one time in 2016 plan to take your group offsite. Getting away to a new venue can help your team re-focus and think outside the box.

It may be a little more work to change things up, but there are several benefits to meeting offsite one or several times next year.

1. Wake up the Audience
Merely putting your group into a new environment can help make everyone more alert and focused. Your members will pay more attention not only to what’s being said, but also to fellow group members. For one thing, there is a good chance they may be positioned beside someone with whom they may not normally interact. But even if they are beside the same people they normally are, they’ll pick up on non-verbal cues they usually miss and learn new things about the person just because they are in a new environment.

2. Do Things a Little Differently
Meeting offsite means you may be using different tools. Those tools could be technological. It could be meeting at several tables rather than one long table. It might mean meeting at a different venue like a gym or a place with more ambiance or even the opportunity to share an experience. New tools can arouse better learning and greater involvement.

3. Jumpstart Some Brainstorming
Being someplace different stimulates fresh thinking and creative ideas. Your members won’t be sitting in the same chair, staring at the same four walls and watching the same clock tick away the minutes. If you want to get some creative juices flowing, putting your group in a new locale can flip that switch.

4. Get the Group Involved
One of the biggest benefits of leaving your regular meeting space is that it allows you to completely mix things up. You can place less emphasis on monologue presentations and spend more time in group discussions, hands-on exercises, role-playing or live demonstrations.

5. Try Being Active
During the warmer months you could plan your offsite meeting outdoors – in a park, on a rooftop, or even poolside. During cooler times, make the most of different indoor venues. This past year the Eastside Rotary club decided to do a little team-building and met at the B-Fit CrossFit gym. This gave members an opportunity to get outside of their comfort zones, try something new and support a local business.

The important thing is to make the choice to step outside the box. It will require some extra planning, but your service club or business group will reap big benefits as you interact in new ways.

St. Joseph East Rotary Club

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. The main objective of Eastside Rotary in St. Joseph, Mo., is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today's most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy and violence. They also support programs for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers and other professionals, and vocational and career development.