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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?!

How Do Women Succeed in Tech - Tips From Top Female Founders


1. Be Fearless
“I am often quoted as being fearless, with the lack of fear in "moving mountains."  Success is defined  by not being afraid to look at  every situation and  - to "#OwnIt" ... When we are at peace with our abilities, anything is possible.” 


- Jennifer Arcuri, Founder of InnoTech Summit


2. Understand the sector
“Business success is driven by the execution of great products that match clients’ needs, and the ability to scale a business model. It has nothing to do with gender so women can succeed similarly to men. They just have to understand the sector, start projects and work with both men and women, with no preconceived ideas.” 


- Nathalie Gaveau, Founder of Shopcade and PriceMinister


3. Live the life you want
“A woman succeeds in a sector dominated by men by focusing on her own definition of success and achieving that, and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks. My definition of success is living the life you want and doing the work you want to do, in a way that creates and leaves lasting benefit in the world, and makes a lot of money in the process. I emphasize that last part, because we don't get taken seriously as women, until we get taken seriously financially. I believe the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously, and I'm out to do that with both my startups, IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn.” 


- Cindy Gallop, Founder of MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld.


4. Channel your inner confidence
“Don’t focus on it being a male-dominated industry. Channel your inner confidence (even if it feels like you’re faking it sometimes!). You’ll find success by doing what you do best and just getting on with it. Success is following your passion and finding happiness in how you spend your life.” 


- Lora Schellenberg, Managing Director of Girls in Tech


5. Inspire others
“I never saw my gender as a barrier early on in my career, however as my career progressed I became acutely aware that there were less and less women around me.   The numbers of female CTO’s and CIO’s has improved, however there needs to be an equal representation of both men and women at the top of our industries. I truly believe that  women who hold senior technology roles have a responsibility to inspire other females technologists to pursue their true potential, be it my mentoring, sponsoring or just by sharing stories about their career paths.  In terms of success, everyone's definition is different and mine changes daily.  Sometimes my definition of success is merely to clear my inbox!” 


- Vanessa Vallely, Founder of ‘WeAreTheCity’


6. Be determined
“I think the easiest way to success is to be determined to succeed. I think that women hear ‘no’ more regularly than their male counterparts in this industry, however my choice is not to focus my time and energy on those that say ‘no’. I'd much rather keep searching for and focussing energy on those who are willing and able to say yes. 


Success is relative to the person with a goal in mind. My vision is to give every child an equal opportunity to be successful using superhero characters and the technology we have at our disposal. Ultimate success will be seeing that vision become a reality. That said, I celebrate the steps I take in getting there - from the email from a parent saying my app has made a difference in their home, to winning an award, to a feature on the news or in a blog post like this. It's a privilege to be able to do what I love to do, help others and make a change to the society we live in.” 


- Erika Brodnock, Founder of Karisma Kidz


An Interview With The UK's Top Women in Tech - #ChangeTheRatio

To celebrate International Women’s Day last Sunday, we talked to the women taking the UK tech scene by storm. These women are heading up some of the biggest technology companies in London, running extremely successful websites that help female entrepreneurs and are founding some of the the most successful up and coming start-ups across the UK.

We got in touch to find out how they initially became involved in the technology sector, their opinions on the gender gap and what their secret to success is. One thing all of these women have in common is that they are all fearless and they will never put a limit on what they believe they can achieve in life.


Jennifer Arcuri, Founder of InnoTech Summit

Jennifer Arcuri

Jennifer Arcuri is an american entrepreneur based out of London. Arcuri is founder of new video tech social network ‘Playbox Ltd’. She is best known for founding The InnoTech Summit, an event which brings together entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers, with the aim of stimulating the growth of tech clusters around the world and encouraging the tech education of future generations. 

How did you first get involved in the technology sector? 

“I first got involved with technology just after YouTube was born when I became obsessed with the way video content and video distribution changed through the advent of technology. As a film student, I was particularly interested in the way tech splintered the distribution channels of content.”

Do you think the ratio is closing between Men and Women working in the technology scene?

“Yes- but just like most things, I believe women like to take their time to come into a sector. There needs to be less worries about women coming in and more of a focus on how much more can be accomplished and productive when there are women present. I am a woman in tech constantly obtaining new skills and I do hope to inspire other fellow women to join in on the excitement of the industry.”

How does a women succeed in a sector previously dominated by men? 

��I am often quoted as being fearless, with the lack of fear in "moving mountains."  Success is defined  by not being afraid of look at  every situation and  - to "#OwnIt" ... When we are at peace with our abilities, anything is possible.”


Nathalie Gaveau, Founder of Shopcade and PriceMinister

Nathalie Gaveau OF sHOPCADE

Nathalie Gaveau is best known as the women who sold her firm, online shopping site PriceMinister, for 200 million euro. She sold it and then she moved straight on to another project, because that is what successful women in tech are all about. Her current venture, Shopcade, is a leading fashion-focused social commerce application where you can discover new products, list what you want and get exclusive personalized deal alerts and rewards.

How did you first get involved in the technology sector? 

“After studying business, I cofounded what became one of the top e-commerce players in France with my school alumni. I wish I had known more about technology, code & web design during my studies. I got very passionate about innovation and learnt a lot while working in the tech sector, which is a fascinating industry.”  

Do you think the ratio is closing between men and women working in the tech sector?

“I have no numbers but I think more and more women get into technology and it’s only going to be more mainstream and open. Frankly, it’s about having a good balance. Some sectors are too female dominated and some are very male. Success is probably to be well balanced.”

How does a women succeed in a sector previously dominated by men? 

“Business success is driven by the execution of great products that match clients’ needs, and the ability to scale a business model. It has nothing to do with gender so women can succeed similarly to men. They just have to understand the sector, start projects and work with both men and women, with no preconceived ideas."


Cindy Gallop, Advertising Consultant, Speaker and Founder

Cindy Gallop

Cindy Gallop is an English advertising consultant, founder and former chair of the US branch of advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and founder of the IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn companies.Gallop has talked at some of the biggest technology conferences around the world and her 2009 Ted Talk on ‘Make Love Not Porn’ was one for the most talked about presentations at the 2009 TED Conference. She has now has turned her illustrious advertising career into a lifelong pursuit of changing the world, her way — one daring project after another.

How did you first get involved in the technology sector? 

“I was monitoring what was happening in tech to see what could be applied in advertising, back in the late 90s when I started up BBH's (Bartle Bogle Hegarty advertising firm) New York office. “

Do you think the ratio is closing between men and women working in the tech sector?

“Not yet, but I think the desire to #changetheratio is finally tangibly there for both women and right-minded men working in the tech/startup scene.”

How does a women succeed in a sector dominated by men? 

“A woman succeeds in a sector dominated by men by focusing on her own definition of success and achieving that, and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks.

My definition of success is living the life you want and doing the work you want to do, in a way that creates and leaves lasting benefit in the world, and makes a lot of money in the process. I emphasize that last part, because we don't get taken seriously as women, until we get taken seriously financially. I believe the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously, and I'm out to do that with both my startups, IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn.”


Lora Schellenberg, Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech


Lora Schellenberg

Lora Schellenberg is Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech, London which aims to support and raise the visibility of women in technology & entrepreneurship through monthly events and mentor-ship schemes. Schellenberg is also the Co-Founder of UK Startup Jobs, a job board and career advice website for those who want to work in start-ups.

How did you first get involved in the technology sector? 

"Completely by accident! I was looking for a job in healthcare (because I studied health administration) and found one at a health tech startup through volunteering at the Health 2.0 Europe conference. "

Do you think the ratio is closing between Men and Women working in the tech sector?

"Absolutely, Because of the incredible awareness efforts of organisations like the one I co-lead in London, Girls in Tech, as well as others like Geek Girl Meetup, Stemettes, Ada’s List, Women Who Code, Code First: Girls and so many more!"

How does a women succeed in a sector previously dominated by men? 

"Don’t focus on it being a male-dominated industry. Channel your inner confidence (even if it feels like you’re faking it sometimes!). You’ll find success by doing what you do best and just getting on with it. Success is following your passion and finding happiness in how you spend your life."


Vanessa Vallely, Founder of ‘WeAreTheCity’

Vanessa Vallely

Vanessa Vallely is the founder of leading Women’s network, job board and website ‘WeAreTheCity’. Vallely is also the co-founder of the UK wide diversity network, The Network of Networks (TNON) which includes the heads of women’s networks from 90 FTSE firms. 

1. How did you first get involved in the technology sector? 

"When I left school in 1988 it was the only real skill I had.  In my last year of school computers had just been introduced and they were mostly being used to support existing exams.  I played on a game called “L” which consisted of a series of mathematical challenges whereby you would win keys which gave you access to different parts of the programme.  Conquering this programme contributed heavily towards the Maths GCSE within my school.    I was hooked and there followed a 25 year in Technology.  Ironically, my school Technology GSCE result was an F, however I did get a C in Maths!"

2. Do you think the ratio is closing between Men and Women working in the tech/start-up scene?  

"Given the events we run at WeAreTheCity, I am seeing more and more women in corporate technology roles. However, there are still not enough girls coming through the pipeline to sustain the shortage of technologists we face in the future.  The biggest issue is the technology curriculum at schools,  it just isn't appealing for girls.  Throwing girls in to coding is not the answer. There are so many different roles in Technology, therefore we need to think about how we raise awareness of all the different career paths that can be taken. " 

"I think existing female technologists also need to play their part in terms of sharing their experience and guiding younger generations.   There are so many organisations where you can volunteer and inspire the next generation, for example Stemettes, a  wonderful organisation that inspires girls to pursue STEM careers."

3. How does a women succeed in a sector previously dominated by men? 

"I never saw my gender as a barrier early on in my career, however as my career progressed I became acutely aware that there were less and less women around me.   The numbers of female CTO’s and CIO’s has improved, however there needs to be an equal representation of both men and women at the top of our industries. I truly believe that  women who hold senior technology roles have a responsibility to inspire other females technologists to pursue their true potential, be it my mentoring, sponsoring or just by sharing stories about their career paths."

"In terms of success, everyone's definition is different and mine changes daily.  Sometimes my definition of success is merely to clear my in box!"

Erika Brodnock, Founder and CEO of Karisma Kidz

erika-brodnock

Erika Brodnock is an extremely busy woman. Mother of 5 children, she spent 14 years working in the area of education and performance improvement as a parenting support officer and coach. More recently she founder her own company, Karisma Kids, a site which aims to teach children social and emotional skills through a mix of physical toys and digital games and helps kids to deal with stress.

1. How did you first get involved in the technology sector? 

"In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, I decided that I wanted to create something that met children where they spend most of their time now-a-days (in front  of a screen) and offered a way for them to learn the emotional intelligence and social skills they need for a happy and successful future. Technology for me is an involving symbolism of things we once thought to be impossible becoming the norm so I decided if it could work for connectivity online why not for teaching children the skills they need to connect off line too."

2. Do you think the ratio is closing between Men and Women working in the tech/start-up scene?

We have a long way to go before we see equality in the tech scene, but there are far more women in tech now than ever before and that is a welcome step in the right direction for me.

We're using the Karisma Kidz characters to open girls up to the possibilities of a future in technology as early as possible so I'm hoping that in years to come the equality of ratios we now aspire to will become a tangible reality. 

3. How does a women succeed in a sector previously dominated by men? 

"I think the easiest way to success is to be determined to succeed. I think that women hear no more regularly than their male counterparts in this industry, however my choice is not to focus my time and energy on those that say no. I'd much rather keep searching for and focusing energy on those who are willing and able to say yes.

Success is relative to the person with a goal in mind. My vision is to give every child an equal opportunity to be successful using superhero characters and the technology we have at our disposal. Ultimate success will be seeing that vision become a reality. That said, I celebrate the steps I take in getting there - from the email from a parent saying my app has made a difference in their home, to winning an award to a feature on the news or in a blog post like this. It's a privilege to be able to do what I love to do, help others and make a change to the society we live in."