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
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:
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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