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Chris MacDonald: Well-being and performance are interconnected

How well one performs is directly tied to how well one feels, according to Chris MacDonald. Chris is Denmark’s one of the most acknowledged motivational speakers and experts on the topic of well-being and performance. In this interview with HUONE, he shares his insights into how well-thought-out surroundings create better and more effective meetings.

When Chris MacDonald is invited as a speaker, he always looks for the same three elements: good air quality, lighting, and acoustics, with good reason! Aside from the general preparation work, inspiring agenda, and speakers, these elements are crucial in order to achieve the best outcome in meetings and events.

In this interview, you can read more about:

  • How well-being and performance are interconnected according to Chris MacDonald
  • How well-designed meeting rooms influence positively on one’s motivation
  • Chris MacDonald’s advice for leaders post-pandemic

Chris MacDonald

(Festival Room is one of Chris MacDonald’s favourite rooms at HUONE because of its lighting, acoustics, and air quality. These elements are all crucial when it comes to one’s motivation and effectiveness during the meeting day)

What are the most essential points in your research on well-being and performance? 

When considering what is essential to our ability to perform and thrive, our communities are in the centre. It is actually not that simple. There are many things that affect our concentration level and perception.

Why is it important for meeting planners to consider?

As for meeting planners, one has to think about what makes people meet and engage with one another in a constructive way, including well-being and core elements of a room.

Can you please give some examples of what those core elements are in a meeting room?

  1. Acoustics. Is the room loud or not? When I enter a sports hall or someplace made of concrete without other materials, I know it is going to be uphill. At HUONE, even when standing on the second floor in Mezzanine Lounge in this former hangar, the acoustics are in place. Never underestimate the importance of sound in one’s meeting experience.
  2. Lighting. Can people see me? What kind of spotlights are installed? The Festival Room in HUONE resembles Roskilde Festival. There are some spotlights that highlight people. Those spots need to be always installed in the right places at a venue.
  3. Air. Even though we are currently in a smaller meeting room, Greenland Room, for about 10-15 people, there are 10 independent ventilation systems built in. That makes the air circulate better. Never underestimate how much CO2 concentration affects one’s concentration during a meeting. If one is looking to gather a crowd of not-so-focused participants, simply adjust the quality of air in the wrong direction and you will see.

It became clear to me quite early on in my career the fact that a meeting room has to check all of those boxes in order for a presenter or a facilitator to succeed. One cannot make a bad presenter be better by having perfect acoustics and surroundings. However, one can elevate Bruce Springsteen and any other huge talent to the highest degree with the right settings.

How has your meeting experience at HUONE Copenhagen been so far?

When I realised the fact that HUONE is the Finnish word for ‘room,’ many pieces came together. Here is a concept completely based upon gathering people, and doing it well. When launching a brand where the name in itself is actually a concept, one has to do it well, if it ought to be credible. Here, there are so many things where I simply think ‘wow!’ Every room has its own universe, in which the theme is thought-through. To be able to transform such a huge former airplane construction into something that aligns with the name of the brand, fascinates me.

At HUONE, you have created room for gathering in both bigger and smaller groups. I am very attentive to the social, environmental, and inner inputs from ourselves. It all plays a role. The odds for our performance and well-being are extremely low when we do not consider this in a holistic way. That is what you have done here at HUONE.

In your view, what characterizes an ideal meeting day?

  • Inspiration. I want to have learned something when the day is through.
  • Laughter. I want to laugh together. It takes a strong community to be able to laugh together as homo sapiens. So as meeting planners, we need to be mindful of that.
  • Core elements. Acoustics, lighting, air. And then of course it is a bonus if one – like HUONE – is championing the comfortability of meeting chairs and details beyond the core elements.

Chris MacDonald’s advice for business owners and leaders upon the pandemic 

I don’t think that there’s a need to motivate people into being social again. That will happen by itself. It is though we put fish back in the water after they’ve been without it – they will still know how to swim. It is more about creating opportunities, space and time to gather in different ways. We have a slogan in English saying: “If you build it, they will come.” So start building.

Read our other interviews here