Setting up the perfect meeting.
There are basic setups with which you should be familiar. Each has its own application and can be adapted to various surroundings, including obstructions.
Best suited for small meetings where close interaction is preferred. Conference style is most effective for small training sessions and committee meetings. The shape can be rectangular or oval.
U-Shape, E-Shape and T-Shape
These seatings are at variations of the conference style setup, where a face-to-face interaction is important but the group is too large for a conference seating. It's also effective to place program leaders and speakers at the cross-points.
Generally used for food functions and small discussion groups. In an emergency, they can substitute for classroom seating, with people sitting at one-half of the table facing the head table. Depending on their size, rounds seat between eight and 12 people.
Another version of the conference style. This setup works well for meetings of 30-50 people because it opens up the meeting space, allowing people to see one another. Facilities will sometimes substitute the hollow square for the conference style or vice versa to accommodate the shape and size of the meeting room to the requirements of your program. Depending on the variety of the meeting equipment, you may adapt the hollow square into a hollow circle or oval.
Designed for lectures in which people need to take notes, this seating arrangement consists of tables usually six to eight feet long with chairs. Table widths vary by site. Classroom style works well for both large and small groups, and it can be adapted to the shape of the meeting room. For example, if the room is long and narrow, it can be set up in a V-shape or without a center aisle. Talk with the event representative about the shapes and capacities of the meeting room and what works best in each room. If your attendees will be taking notes for long periods of rime, seat two people at a six-foot table or three people at an eight-foot table. The site representative will work with you to maximize your attendees' comfort based on available space.
Theater and Auditorium Style
Like classroom seating and rounds, this arrangement works well for all sizes of audiences. Because there is little "elbow room," it is most effective for shorter meetings where note taking is not required. The chairs can be moved easily during the program to form small discussion groups.
Keep in mind that when you have an audiovisual presentation or a speaker's podium, no one should have his or her back to the visual focus of the room. Try to arrange your seating so that all conferees are as close to the speaker as possible.