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Which Seating Plan Will Make Your Meeting Perfect?

You’ve put hours and hours of thought into arranging the perfect venue, organising invitations, having a water-tight agenda, but how much time have you put into choosing the most effective seating plan for your meeting?

No two meetings are the same, so by looking at your meeting goals, the shape of the room as well as the necessary level of interaction between speaker and attendees, you can be sure to create a layout that will lead to a unique and successful meeting.

As with all things, there are pros and cons to each setup, so without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best layouts and what each has to offer:

Theatre Style 


Probably the first layout that comes to people’s minds when they think of a meeting is the theatre style. With rows of seats laid out facing the front towards the speaker or screen, this is a popular style for educational seminars, announcements and launches.  This can be a great set up for meetings that have a high number of attendees as it will make use of the entire room capacity, and has all attention directed towards the main focal point.

This layout can give meetings an incredibly formal feel which can make it hard for attendees to interact with one another, so if you’re looking to make it a little more relaxed, perhaps try placing the chairs in a circular or semi-circular arrangement. There can occasionally be problems with the audience having to push past one another to get to and from their seat, and there is also nowhere for the audience to put any refreshments should it be a long meeting.

Boardroom Style 


A great layout for a small meeting or an interview, the boardroom style looks exactly as it sounds; a large elongated table with chairs on both sides and has attendees facing one another. This really encourages interaction and participation between everyone so is great for discussing opinions and ideas.

To make the boardroom style a little less formal and intimidating, you could always use a round table with chairs surrounding it. This is not the best layout to go with, however, if you’re planning to have a speaker or presentation as visibility will be awkward for some attendees.

U-Shape Style 


Another layout that looks like its name; tables and chairs are set-up in an open-ended ‘U’ shape with the audience facing towards each other. Whilst this layout doesn’t really make the most use of the space you’re given, it does lend itself incredibly well to mid-sized meetings of about thirty people that need a fair amount of interaction, and can also incorporate a presentation or speaker.

It’s best not to use this for meetings larger than thirty, as the sides can become too long, causing problems with visibility and interaction. It is also important to skirt the inside of a U-Shape layout to ensure a clean-cut, uniform appearance.

 

Banquet Style 


If you’re planning an event such as a gala or awards ceremony, the banquet layout is exactly what you’ll be looking for. With the audience seated around the circumference of a round table, this is a great set-up to encourage interaction and networking. The table set-up means that attendees are free to have refreshments in front of them, as well as having space for note-taking.

You can change up the banquet style by leaving half the table open-ended so that the audience is sat in an arc-shape which will direct focus on a certain focal point. Whilst it may not be the most efficient use of floor space, it is by far the best layout for longer events or those with food, such as a working lunch.

Cocktail Style 

Definitely the most informal of all meeting set-ups, the cocktail layout is great for maximising all the available floor space in the room. Whilst there may be a few high tables dotted around the room for refreshments, it is unlike any other meeting style as there isn’t a chair in sight. This is far and away the best kind of set-up for an informal meeting or party that involves a lot of networking and interaction.

Bear in mind that attendees will be unable to sit down so may get tired or restless quite quickly, making a steady flow of food and beverages absolutely imperative to maintain interest and energy. Lots of companies are now opting for the modern cocktail style in the event of smaller, shorter meetings between teams or departments in order to imply a more relaxed, vibrant atmosphere.

We’ve told you some of our favourite seating-plans, so now it’s time for you to tell us: what’s your favourite seating plan for meetings and why?!