5 Meeting Room Setup Styles and When We Should Use Them

March 6, 2019
The way tables, chairs, and other furniture is configured in the conference room is often an afterthought for conference planners, but more importance should be given on the meeting room layout. The seating arrangement has a direct impact on the way communication is conducted, and influences the dynamics of the relationships among attendees. When organizing your conference, you’ll have lots of options as to the types of meeting rooms to set up. The layout facilitates passive learning and aids in are great for group discussions and personal interaction. First of all, here at the World Trade Center Metro Manila, we regard the layout and the table setup of a meeting room as important as the venue itself. Check out our function rooms for more info. Equally important is understanding the various facets of the conference itself is a key starting point to coming up with the best styles for meeting setups. These aspects include confirming the number of attendants, understanding your customers’ specifications and an evaluation of the resources that you have at hand. It gets really interesting when a customer doesn’t have a clue about any setup style but wants a nice setup that makes maximum usage of space while allowing free movements. As a planner you have to juggle your skills and experience and come up with the best possible suggestions for them. Here are 5 meeting room setup styles and when we should use them:  
  1. Theatre
The theatre style seating involves rows of chairs facing the front of the room, with no tables. There is typically an aisle running from the back to the front of the room, allowing guests easier access to their seats. This setting is great for sessions where all of the action is at the front of the room. It also allows for the maximum seated capacity to be achieved, and there's a clear status distinction between attendees and speakers. However, this setup is meant for a one-to-many communication, which isn’t helpful for teamwork or dialogue. Plus, there's little flexibility to move around the room, with guests largely confined to their seats.  
  1. U-shape
As the name ѕuggеѕtѕ, U-shape conference room ѕtуlе соnѕiѕtѕ of a series of rесtаngulаr tаblеѕ рlасеd еnd tо еnd to form a “U” ѕhаре. The сhаirѕ are рlасеd in the оutеr kids. This ѕtуlе is suitable for рrеѕеntаtiоnѕ, video conferences, and training sessions. Eасh group hаѕ a table in front of them which mаkеѕ this seating arrangement great for taking down nоtеѕ. It can work great for more intimate presentations where multiple speakers take turns to enter the middle space. It аlѕо fасilitаtеѕ соnvеrѕаtiоn bеtwееn the ѕреаkеr and the аudiеnсе, аѕ well аѕ аmоngѕt audience members. At the same time, participants are free to take notes and interact with each other, if e.g. prompted by the speaker as an interactive part of their presentation.  
  1. Banquet/Cocktails
This conference room style is built around numerous (usually round) tables placed in a large, open room. Depending on the room’s purpose, these tables will either have standing places or up to 8 chairs placed around them. This style of meeting room is also great for networking sessions where people moved freely as they mingle in small groups around different tables. This style is also usually used to serve lunch or other refreshments during breaks.  
  1. Classroom
Tables are configured in rows across the conference room, perpendicular to the presenter at the front of the room. Chairs are then positioned behind the tables, facing the front. All seats are facing the front of the conference room, so it's a fairly good layout for maximizing conference room floor space. However, it's a bit difficult to work in groups, with guests largely confined to their seating rows. Strategically placing aisles around the room to aid access can be tricky, and guests may associate the set up with being back at school, and therefore feel spoken to, rather than part of an open discussion. These are some things you should consider when opting for this style.  
  1. Boardroom
Guests are seated around all four sides of a long, elongated table. Often, the facilitator/presenter is seated with guests at the board table, rather than standing at the front of the room. Since this ѕtуlе allows for сlоѕе рrоximitу tо еасh оthеr, it is suitable for shorter sessions involving open discussion, such as focus groups. If your conference has workshop sessions that depend on a mid-sized group of people talking things out, this may be a worthwhile conference room style to consider. However, if a projector is being used, chairs must be strategically placed to allow all guests to have a clear view. This could mean only sitting around three of the four sides of a table. It's also a tad difficult to break-off and work in smaller groups.

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