Okay, so you’ve picked your event venue – now there are big decisions to be made, from food to decor to technology and more. One decision that meeting planners may not realize has the ability to sway the entire outcome of the conference: seating arrangements.
Why do they matter?
You may be wondering why this is such a big decision. A meeting room is a meeting room, no matter how the chairs are set, right? Not so anymore, thanks to new research. According to Convene, a national event venue network, where people sit affects not only how well they learn, but how they engage, network, and whether or not they enjoy your conference. This means that your seating arrangement depends largely on your event/session goals. Listening audience? Maybe classroom is fine. Brainstorming session? Collaborative spaces are key. Decisions to be made? Plan for a moderator and perhaps a U-shape to encourage conversation.
How to choose
You still maybe be thinking that there are really only a few options to choose from, so why is it such a big deal? Truth is, many events are incorporating couches, high top tables, typical round tables and areas for those with laptops, and many more alternatives. So what is best for your event? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want engagement from the audience with the presenter? If yes, then you may want a smaller space where the speaker can easily move about the room to interact with attendees.
- Will attendees be consuming plated food and/or beverage? If so, you need to plan for table space that also allows all attendees a view of the presentation and speaker without having to turn their chairs too much.
- Will attendees need to interact with each other? Consider a relaxed, collaborative arrangement with couches or even simply round tables where attendees can see each other.
- Will attendees be mingling in this area? Again, couches are inviting for conversation and networking, as are high-top tables for those who would rather not sit.
Other things to consider are power sources for laptops or phones, options for attendees to stand if they need a break from sitting, and handicap accessibility in the chosen arrangement.
Examples of arrangements
There are around 8+ common arrangements for setup including theater, classroom, herringbone, horseshoe, hollow square, boardroom, banquet, cocktail, lounge zones and more. By asking yourself the questions above and reviewing the diagrams below, you should be able to make an informed decision on which arrangement will work best for you.
Let us help!
The Convention and Visitors Bureau you are working with to plan your event should be able to help you decide which seating arrangement would work well for your attendees. They can also likely recommend unique venues and vendors to achieve out-of-the-box meeting spaces that are not only fun for attendees to work in, but that insure attendees learn and interact as much as possible. Visit Greater St. Cloud is happy to help with any questions you have on seating arrangements, venues, or anything else when it comes to planning your next perfect event. Feel free to reach out whenever you need to!