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If you’re spending 6 hours in a meeting, it better be worth it. Try using these 6 hacks to make the most of your meetings.

  1. Put away the tech

Ask attendees not to use their phones, laptops, iPads, etc. while in the meeting. In fact, suggest that they put their devices in their purses or in a different part of the room. Stowing devices in pockets will not do; the enticing vibration of a mysterious new text makes it difficult to focus on the meeting. Likewise, taking notes via computers is essentially just another form of distraction. With new emails popping up every five minutes and breaking news stories every two, staying solely on Microsoft Word is quite the challenge. Try to avoid this altogether and recommend attendees take notes on paper instead of on their laptops.

  1. Establish a time keeper

Elect someone to be in charge of keeping track of time. This person should make sure the group stays in line according to the scheduled agenda. This could mean giving 10-minute warnings before it is time to move onto the next topic or simply changing the conversation all together if necessary. If attendees are hesitant to move on from the current subject, take note of where they left off and ask them to follow up via email. It is essential for everyone’s sanity to stick to the scheduled agenda.

  1. Physical activity

Break up the meeting and get moving! After sitting for several hours, your body needs some rejuvenation. Participate in some light exercise. Try walking around the room, going out for a coffee run, or taking a stroll through the neighborhood. If you don’t have time to leave the meeting site, break out a few stretches. If you want to lead the group in a series of crunches and downward dogs, even better, but it’s certainly not necessary.

  1. Leave the office

Try leaving the office and working in a new location; a fresh perspective can make all the difference. Help employees get out of their comfort zones and be inspired by inviting them to work in innovative, creative spaces. The less like an office the meeting venue appears, the better.

  1. Loosen up

Helping attendees to relax in the meeting space can aid them in feeling comfortable expressing their ideas. You can achieve this conductive atmosphere by establishing an informal setting. For example, ask people to dress in casual clothing or try making attendees laugh in the beginning of the meeting (a chubby cat wearing a sweater can almost always do the trick).

  1. No sugary foods

Try not to serve particularly sugary foods to meeting attendees during the break times. While cupcakes are far cuter than carrots and hummus, they are quick to stifle productivity. Consumers of sugary foods are lulled into a hazy mindset, generally counteracted by myriad cups of coffee, which only dehydrates employees. A healthy, balanced assortment of lunch and break foods will best serve your employees and sustain their energy levels throughout the meeting.

Image from viewology.net
Image from viewology.net

In an age when people own more versions of iPhones than notepads, laptops have become a staple in the meeting space. Do laptops, however, help meetings or hurt their productivity? We determined the pros and cons of laptops in meetings, letting you be the judge of what to consider acceptable meeting etiquette.

The Pros:

More engagement
Portable tech makes it easy for meeting attendees to further engage with the speaker. They can quickly look up supplementary material online, live tweet their opinions and questions, and connect with other attendees. The constant online interaction helps people to stay interested; it spurs attendees to really think about the content rather than merely absorb it.

• Easy to follow up
I will be the first to admit, my handwriting is far from Times New Roman. Typing notes makes it much easier for attendees to review what was discussed in the meeting; they can simply copy and paste sections of notes or quotes into emails, to do lists, etc. Furthermore, typing along with the speaker allows you to take copious notes, jotting down exactly what the speaker is saying rather than paraphrasing in an effort to save time. There is no denying it: typing is much, much faster than handwriting.

• Environmentally friendly
Typing notes and doing everything online eliminates the need for speakers to bring in paper copies of handouts or for participants to bring paper notebooks. This saves a lot of paper in the long run!

The Cons:

• Bad retention rate
It has been proven that hand writing notes leads to better retention rates than typing notes. The slow process of writing forces you to synthesize the information you are listening to since you are not able to absent-mindedly write down the presentation word for word.

• Sidetracks meeting attendees
You have the entire Internet sitting in front of you; that’s thousands of pictures of cats wearing adorable sweaters. It is incredibly tempting to start surfing the Internet if there is a lull in the meeting. You can check your email, catch up on the score of the game, send an IM to your coworker, however, your full attention is not with the speaker. It is easy to tune the presenter out if you unwittingly become too absorbed in your laptop. And lets be honest, how different is sending IM’s to your co-worker in the middle of a meeting from passing notes to your friends in your fifth grade classroom? Not that different.

• Distracts meeting presenters
Presenting to a group of people whose eyes are staring at a screen in front of them can be a daunting experience. Is that guy typing out notes? Or is it a completely unrelated email? Is she fact checking me? Is he IM-ing his coworker across the conference table? Without the reassurance of eye contact, the speaker is easily led to question what the meeting attendees are actually doing on their laptops. This can lead the speaker to feel self conscious as whether people are paying attention or not.

• Stifles discussion
Laptops create a physical barrier between the users and everyone else. That barrier, no matter how compact your laptop may be, lessens the inclination to participate in discussions. A “someone else will do it” mindset is adopted, meaning laptop users frequently take on a passive role and let others participate in the discussions.

So what do you think, yes or no to laptops in meetings?


We’ve all been there; you are trying to wrack your brain for a great idea, or really any idea, but nothing is coming to you. Your stress level is steadily rising, making it even more difficult to think of ideas. Before you know it, you’re sweating, maybe even hyperventilating, and can’t think about anything other than drinking a grande soy latte and crawling into bed. Keep the following 7 tips in mind to prevent such situations from ever happening again.

1. Put yourself in a creative space
Creativity breeds more creativity. Whether that means playing music out loud, hanging art on the walls, or decorating with vibrant colors, it is essential to work in a space that you feel expresses the type of inspiration you wish to elicit.

2. Stay alert
Grab a coffee or do some crunches, whatever you need to do to stay alert. And no, alert is not the same thing as awake. Alert means being engaged in and contributing to the discussions at hand, absorbing what is being said, and drawing connections to other applicable material. This way, you are thriving off of the energy the other meeting attendees are putting forward; making you only more alert and engaged.

3. Take breaks
Think about something completely different, go for a walk, remove yourself form the environment you are working in. One ten-minute break every hour will help you stay alert and keep your brain refreshed. That way you won’t get bogged down or frustrated with the task at hand.

4. Write down your ideas
Seeing your ideas physically written out allows you to acknowledge all of the work you have already done. You can see your progress and more easily build off of it. You won’t be lacking inspiration when you see all of your hard work laid out in front of you.

5. Relax
Coming up with ideas can be intimidating but you just need to start; get out those obvious notions, the bad ideas, and the stupid thoughts. You will feel better hearing them out loud and, although they may not be great ideas, they often spark better ones. Clearing your mind of the obvious and the ridiculous will let you focus on the innovative and creative.

6. Find fresh perspectives
A change in perspective, even if it is not directly related to the task at hand, can spark new ideas and let you dissect problems with a different lens. Reading about a new topic, talking with people in other industries, or working in a new space are just some of the ways you can challenge your point of view.

7. Develop a routine
Although it is good to switch things up, when it comes to the time to actually do your creative work, it helps to have a solid routine. Your brain will be conditioned to certain circumstances that signal when to be creative, allowing you to fall into the mindset quickly. Train your brain to know when to be creative.


Meetings are en essential part of the workday, however, they are often perceived as bland and predictable hours of doom. Recent trends are spurring meetings to become more efficient and engaging than ever. Make your meetings events that employees enjoy going to by adopting some of these trends!

1. Kale Please
It is pretty obvious that gluten-free, vegan food is infiltrating restaurants and cafes all around Manhattan and now the trend has reached the catering domain. Many meeting clients are opting for seasonal and local foods as well as gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Some venues are even beginning to serve cold-pressed juices as an alternative to coffee!

2. Break it up
Energizing activities are becoming a staple in the modern day meeting. Breaks have been proven to boost productivity and creativity. So, rather than streamlining through the meeting, clients are opting to regularly break up the time. Often, these breaks will include interactive activities that get employees moving and out of the dreaded meeting-coma.

3. Drop and give me 20
Using it as a team building activity or as a method for breaking up the meeting, exercise allows attendees to stretch a part of their brain they may not be using. It invigorates employees and brings a sense of freshness to the meeting. Activities can include roller blading, jump roping, taking a walk, stretching; the possibilities are endless, just be sure not to get too sweaty right before you have to present that PowerPoint.

4. Don’t go into the office
Offsite meetings are becoming the norm for companies wanting an innovative edge. A new space that looks and feels completely different from the office coerces a fresh perspective from employees and provides a much-needed change of pace, leading to greater productivity. In addition, offsite meeting venues provide the ideal outlet for team bonding and an increase in office morale.

5. Loose the suits
Establishing a casual environment is a popular meeting tactic right now. Clients arrive in everyday clothing and talk to each other in an informal manner (the occasional pun is even shared). There is no divide between executives and entry-level employees; they all sit together and work on the same tasks. This mitigates office hierarchies and allows for people to feel comfortable expressing their ideas.

6. 10 is greater than 20
Meeting with smaller groups comprised of around ten people is becoming more prevalent than standard meeting sizes of around twenty employees. Smaller meetings engage attendees more and force everyone present to share their ideas and let their voices be heard. The tactic strengthens individuals’ agency and spurs deeper and more detailed discussions.

7. Crank up the tunes
Playing music throughout shifts in the meeting is a fairly new trend that is taking hold quickly. Music helps to signal that a new topic is about to be discussed and that attendees should refresh and change their mindset. It also helps employees feel comfortable with one another and lets people mingle without feeling like they are having their conversations listened to.

8. #TechSavvy
Perhaps the most significant trend of meetings right now is the dramatic incorporation of technology. Creating a twitter hash tag solely for the meeting is a popular way to let employees interact throughout the meeting. Displaying YouTube videos is an extremely popular method of boosting employee engagement, especially if that video includes a baby animal or two. In addition, PowerPoints are becoming a relic of the 90’s and new methods of presentations that are more engaging are becoming the norm.

Post written by guest blogger, Veronica Smith.

The last two decades have seen an exponential amount of innovation and technological advancement from the invention of a portable music device capable of holding thousands of songs and fitting in the palm of your hand to the invention of ASIMO, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot. The general formula for these success stories is: increased innovation/creativity → increased productivity.

Three ways to increase creativity are to create a work environment conducive to more creative thinking, hire more creative employees, and find ways to build up the creative abilities of the employees you have. Sounds simple enough, right? Then why do companies still get stuck in the same ineffective uncreative cycles? What’s missing from the formula: ? → increased innovation/creativity → productivity? Laughter!

Imagine a company facing some PR nightmare and calling in its head executives and creative team to problem solve and diffuse this potentially catastrophic situation. The tension in the room is palpable, the pressure is high and expectations for your team to perform well are even higher. Several employees have light bulbs go off in their heads, but are too nervous to share for fear of sharing a bad, stupid or unhelpful idea. Now imagine someone blurts out the most ridiculous hilarious sounding idea causing the boardroom to burst into giggles. The tension and pressure in the room suddenly drops and all those withheld ideas that could promote innovation and creativity are released and a true brainstorming session can ensue.

Humor allows one to emotionally distance themselves from the problem so the stress of finding a solution does not hinder creativity. Thinking outside of the box is also made possible by humor because finding the humor in something means making a new or unexpected connection between two things. A punch line is called a punch line because it unexpectedly hits you with a connection between a chicken and why they crossed the road that you didn’t see before. Besides making the workplace a more enjoyable environment, laughter can increase creativity and innovation and give your company the competitive edge it so desires.


SoHoSoleil hosts clients from all over the world and, while they spend a majority of their time in meetings, clients leave at the end of the day to retire to their hotels. Luckily, SoHoSoleil is surrounded by trendy SoHo venues, making your commute from SoHoSoleil to the hotel so easy that you won’t even need to break out the Google Maps app.

One of our clients’ favorite locations is the Hotel on Rivington. The sleek and modern hotel is renowned for its Tempur-Pedic beds and floor to ceiling views. One of SoHoSoleil’s returning clients, Ian from the Truth Campaign, was a huge fan of his stay at the hotel. He says that, “The room was surprisingly spacious… huge bed, huge shower, huge room. I’ve stayed in numerous NYC boutique hotels, and the Hotel on Rivington provided a comforting and creative use of space… I felt more at home. Plus the complimentary water, cookies, and popcorn were DOPE!” The hotel’s restaurant, CO-OP Food and Drink, offers locally sourced food and fresh sushi, securing its place as one of the most popular Lower East Side restaurants. Added bonus: on Fridays and Saturdays, the hotel’s bar turns into an all-out party with two DJs and three rooms dedicated to making memorable weekends in New York City.

We highly recommend the Hotel on Rivington for an outstanding stay in New York City that compliments the creative and unique atmosphere of the meeting spaces at SoHoSoleil. Shoot Cristina an email at clebron@hotelonrivington.com for a great rate!

Post written by guest blogger Jane Belkin

Four years ago, I began my internship at SoHoSoleil as a bright eyed, bushytailed newbie to most things South of Houston. As a native New Yorker, born and raised on the Upper West Side, I was hardly a stranger to the vast density of one of the world’s greatest cities, but would soon find myself amazed and captivated with all that SoHo had to offer— from world renowned art, to some of the best food in the city, to some of the most beautiful work environments around. Of course, SoHoSoleil manages to expertly combine all three, concocting a seamless recipe for working creatively in a peaceful, inspirational environment away from the office grind.

Throughout my four-year relationship with SoHoSoleil, I have witnessed firsthand a phenomenon of evolution, namely—the transformation of this flourishing habitat so many artists and creatives call home.

In the late 1970s, the area South of Houston was gritty and far less polished than the chic artistic neighborhood it is today. This is of course a welcomed consequence of the influx of artists searching for a new and fresh environment to call their artistic home. A component of the area that caused many artists to take interest was the architecture, which provides openly sculpted lofts with large bright windows with stimulating views of the city. SoHo became a bustling community for artists of all kinds, turning the less than sophisticated neighborhood it once was into an elegantly cultured ocean of people bubbling with inspiration.

The creative atmosphere of SoHo makes for the perfect environment to hold creative gatherings outside of the usual office setting. The multi-dimensional neighborhood is a true asset for clients attending meetings at SoHoSoleil, and never ceases to inspire, whether it is for pleasure or for work.

Though the metamorphosis of SoHo has been evolving for more than four decades, each time I return to this sweet neighborhood I am greeted with at least one new façade, from Ladurée, a retail bakery, café, and full service restaurant, to the 3,500 square foot Greene Street flagship store of designer Etienne Aigner.

As the old adage goes, New York is the city that never sleeps, and SoHo is an exceptional example of how true that is. While it seems like new storefronts and restaurants will continue popping up, it is comforting to know that many famous landmarks and old favorites, like the historic building housing SoHoSoleil, remain standing to welcome me with open, and stylish, arms whenever I find myself South of Houston.


Cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg generally defined creativity as “the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile.” Boosting creativity is one of the main motivations behind the desire for companies and focus groups to escape the familiar office setting and stretch their mental legs, so to speak. A fresh environment allows for new inspiration to be found and for creativity to flow freely, without being stifled by the often suffocating everyday routine. Creativity is about finding innovative ways to problem solve and discover new approaches to everyday situations. To help boost your creativity, here are some useful tips for opening your mind, based on knowledge from the top psychologists of today.

1. Commit
Devote yourself to developing your creative skills. Set goals and consider them seriously, no matter how out-there they may be. Creativity is all about potential and possibility.

2. Surround yourself with creative people
Whether you’re a group working on the same project, or a group all working individually, it is important to surround yourself with people who will inspire you and encourage your creative freedom. Debbie Downers and idea-stiflers are not welcome!

3. Reward yourself
It is a grave misconception that creativity and curiosity are indulgences akin to daydreaming. Having bold ideas is never a bad thing! Rather than reprimanding yourself, reward yourself for your curious notions and let yourself explore new topics and thoughts freely. There is no harm in dreaming big!

4. Take risks
If you’re going to think inside the box, you might as well stay in the confines of your cubicle. Let your ideas be as limitless as the views from SoHoSoleil’s floor to ceiling windows. Though the dreams you have may not come true or be award-winning ideas, you will be building a skill that will serve you very well in the future. Fight your fear of failure!

5. Make the time and use it wisely
It will be difficult to develop your creative talents if you don’t make time for them. Dedicate a time specifically for creative thinking, however, don’t put pressure on yourself or enforce a deadline. You may have a time limit, but creativity does not.

6. Brainstorm
Brainstorming is all about the volume of ideas produced. Use brainstorming tools and techniques that boost creativity, like snowballing or creating a flow chart, a mind map, or a journal. Jot down as many ideas as you can possibly think of, without judging whether or not they’re brilliant ideas. After giving yourself a break, go back through your list and narrow down the best ideas with a clear head.

7. Remember that there can be more than one solution
When narrowing down your brainstormed ideas and thinking of new solutions to problems, try not to get stuck on finding which one is the best. The truth is, there is not always one finite, be-all-end-all solution. Problems can often be solved through many different paths, sometimes all of equal worth, value, and success.

8. Constantly look for new sources of inspiration
Creative ideas can come from anywhere at any time, but you shouldn’t expect creativity to always simply happen. Look for motivation and inspiration from books, museums, and music, and keep your mind open to new things. Fresh experiences create new ideas. Leave the old boring stuff at your cubicle.

9. Try the “Six Hats” technique
Based on the knowledge of some of the most groundbreaking research on creative psychology, the “six hats” technique is all about looking at a problem or situation from six different perspectives. This allows you to come up with fresh solutions.

1. Red Hat: Look at the situation from an emotional perspective. Trust your emotional instincts and see what they tell you.
2. Yellow Hat: Be positive. Think of which elements of your solution are most likely to work.
3. White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. Follow the facts and use them to your benefit. Be confident in what is concrete.
4. Green Hat: Think alternatively. What are some outside ideas you haven’t thought of; let your mind wander.
5. Black Hat: Use the negative. Think of which elements will definitely not work. Try to think of them without being too harsh. This isn’t about a negative attitude, but realizing what isn’t going to be beneficial or problem solving.
6. Blue Hat: Think broadly and generally. Pinpoint what the best solution would be overall.

10. Keep your environment in mind
Last, but certainly not least, it is of the utmost importance to find a space that promotes creativity. Dark and dingy is not the way to go. Instead, find somewhere open, welcoming, and calming to get those creative wheels churning. If you’re unsure of where to go, look no further than SoHoSoleil Locations. Sit back, enjoy the view, and get creative!

There’s no doubt about it, organizing a meeting can be stressful. Coordinating multiple schedules, equipment, and topics is enough to give even the most experienced planner a headache. To make your life easier, we have created a list of the seven essentials you need in order to have a successful meeting. Stick to this list and you can be free to worry about other matters, like whether your meeting attendees will remember to use the clever meeting hash tag at the end of their tweets!


1. Flip Charts and Markers
Flip charts are a necessity for every meeting. Writing out key points on the large pieces of paper helps to focus attendees. In addition, the flip charts make a great visual of your progress throughout the meeting. Bonus: Make sure to have flip charts with a sticky back. That way you can post the papers around your meeting site, allowing attendees to visualize their work.

2. Projector
A projector is key for meetings. Whether it is used to show a classic PowerPoint presentation, display a live feed of tweets, or play funny cat videos, a projector helps attendees engage with content and stay attentive.

3. Speakers
Be sure to bring speakers that can connect to your computer. No one, I repeat, no one likes the crackly sound of built in computer speakers. Even if you are not planning on showing a video, I recommend bringing speakers. A current trend in corporate meetings is to play music as attendees are arriving and leaving the space or over lunch breaks. These music breaks help attendees feel at ease to mingle with one another.

4. Adaptor
Perhaps the most frequently forgotten piece of equipment, the little adaptor is absolutely essential. There is nothing worse than arriving at a meeting, after preparing slide upon slide, and embarrassingly struggle to display your presentation. Bring an adaptor; save yourself from embarrassment.

5. A Great Space
The meeting space can make all the difference. A unique and creative space will cultivate inspiration and innovative ideas. SoHoSoleil, for instance, is designed with lots of natural light and open spaces in an effort to help meeting attendees feel open to express their ideas. An average, lackluster conference room will produce mediocre ideas.

6. Catering
It can be extremely complicated to organize a group outing for lunch in the middle of the meeting and to navigate transportation, costs, etc. Although off site meals allow for valuable bonding time, save the opportunity for after the meeting is over. A catered lunch allows time for a break, but also simplifies the meeting agenda and coordination efforts.

7. WiFi
Honestly, there is no excuse not to have WiFi. Meetings today need WiFi in order to fully engage attendees in multi media dimensions. Additionally, lack of WiFi will lead to some pretty upset employees that will just be waiting for a chance to escape the meeting and check their email.

To make it easier (and cheaper!) for our clients, SoHoSoleil has brought all these meeting items together, offering them in one simple Flat Rate Package. The package helps you save more than 30% on your meeting budget. The package provides you with a kitchen, breakout areas, projector, speakers, WiFi, adaptors, 2 easels, 2 flip charts, and markers. For catering, SoHoSoleil‘s clients work directly with Don from Zaro’s. This direct approach to catering saves middlemen costs, lets guests enjoy a greater food selection, and allows for attention to individual dietary needs such as gluten-free, Kosher, vegetarian, cold or hot plates, etc.

Our Flat Rate Packages are the best deals we have ever offered. Take a look at our SereneSite Flat Rate package here!

Event Space SereneSite SoHoSoleil

Event Space SereneSite SoHoSoleil

Event Space SereneSite SoHoSoleil

Event Space SereneSite SoHoSoleil

Event Space SereneSite SoHoSoleil

SereneSite – Event Space

  • Single room 1000 square feet
  • Free-floating kitchen island stovetop
  • 1 Bathroom
  • White walls for collateral + projection
  • Windows with shades
  • Furnished

Additional equipment and furniture available upon request

The chic, open loft, SereneSite, is an ideal event space for galvanizing staff and clientele. The opportunity to move between the boardroom table and the couches and folding chairs provides a welcome change of pace during group discussions. Clients have the option of rearranging the furniture to best suit their needs. They can also take advantage of the large, white walls to post collateral and project presentations. Corporate executives seeking a private event space frequently book SereneSite. The space stimulates thought processes in a non-traditional setting, one that is sure to be remembered by everyone long after their visit.

Check out our other locations: CornerLight and MeetingSite.

Call us at + 1 212 431 8824 for catering, hotels, and photo and video shoot rates.

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