With public speaking being the world’s number one fear, you’d imagine there was greater access and resources to affect your relief.

The most important thing when planning a retreat is the place. The place has to be the right one. A busy hotel in the middle of the city, hundreds of guests and noisy distractions will not create the right environment for your students. The roads generate traffic, because the horns and people are desperately frustrated to get somewhere quickly.

So we need a small, secluded location out of town, ideally in rolling countryside. It should also be accessible by public transportation and not too far from a large town or city. Your choice of venue will make or break your event. So being away from it all, surrounded by greenery has a profoundly calming effect. You want to create a reflective and calm environment for your class and they will appreciate that effort.

The main auditorium where you will work should be light, airy and spacious. Some of the activities work well with tables and chairs, other activities require the group to work together in an open space. It is best to arrange the details in advance with the venue, providing them with student numbers and a detailed plan of the room.

In a perfect world, the place will also provide accommodation at the right price. This should be verified before you start advertising the event. If the place does not have enough or adequate accommodation, then ask the question, is this the right place? Alternatively, you will need to visit and assess all local hotels and B&Bs and ensure that they meet the required standard for their guests.

This creates a huge burden in terms of time collecting information and putting it together as part of your information package. However, as part of good customer service, doing all the legwork on behalf of your guests will help them see that you are serious business and care about their needs.

There is also the opportunity to identify a number of different types of accommodation at different budgets. Once again, giving your guests options really shows that you care.

The next consideration is the food. It’s not just an army marching on its stomach. Again, in the ideal world scenario, the venue will be able to provide quality food on site and manage special dietary requirements. If the accommodation is on site, it’s great if the students can eat together as it’s part of the shared experience. If the venue doesn’t serve food in the evening, it helps to find a local pub or inexpensive restaurant where students can dine and chat together. This togetherness is an important aspect of group cohesion and should be a key feature of the weekend.

Group dynamics are very important in this type of course. By choosing your venue carefully and planning your weekend thoroughly, you are likely to create a memorable learning experience for your students. Good luck!