The power of seating arrangements can make or break relationships, deals, and even event goals. Brian Lee, Chief Product Management at Lifehack, says that a lot of what you get comes down to the place (event attendees) are seated. The type of event, conference, or meeting held determines where people will sit.
Learn 8 essential seating arrangements and get expert advice from event planners. Learn how the psychology of seating arrangements can assist planners in making the best decisions when designing their event plans.
How do you select the right type of seating arrangement?
The type of activities planned for the event, the length of the event and any special needs that attendees might have will all influence the seating arrangements. A week-long conference that includes many lectures will not work well with pod seating. However, a one-day workshop for small teams with creative ideas will.
Learn 8 types of seating arrangements event professionals should know:
Remember that your space, goals, and the furniture you have at hand will all affect the seating arrangements you choose.
Chevron seating has two columns of short, angled rows and an aisle down the middle. This seating arrangement is a popular choice for planners. It creates a focal point in the center of attention to a speaker. Then, strategically place participants you would like to discuss with.
- Everybody can see the speaker and work together in small groups if necessary
- Maximizes space using angled rows
- Presentations that combine the best of both worlds
- This is not the best place for large groups discussions.
- If seats are not arranged so that they are easy for attendees to see, they may experience sightline problems.
- Participation by the audience in presentations
A seating arrangement in an auditorium has built-in chairs or rows of seats that face a single focal point, usually a podium or professional stage. Use the stage space to set up background photos that are attractive, such as logo prints or textured fabrics.
- This is a great choice for large groups, speeches or speaker series, as well as ceremonies
- Sound can often be a problem
- Participation in audience breakout sessions or audience participation can be difficult
- Awards shows
- Press conferences
- Product demonstrations
For banquet seating, you will use round tables evenly distributed throughout the space. Banquet seating usually seats between 8 and 10 people. Grouping people with similar interests, such as family or co-workers, will yield the best results. You can also group people according to common interests like hobbies or project goals to encourage conversation.
- It’s easy to socialize.
- Perfect for relaxing and networking
- Each table becomes an island, and it isn’t easy to interact with other tables unless you are asked to.
- Awards shows
- Charity events
There is one rectangular table for conference seating that allows guests to face each other at the boardroom or conference tables. When creating your conference seating chart, keep the following principles in mind:
- The VIP should be at the head table.
- Their closest advisors should accompany them
- Listening is a great way to spend your time.
- Anybody sitting next to the VIP will probably feel inclined towards disagreeing with them. However, if they don’t, they should be supportive verbally so others can take notice.
- Facilitates discussion
- Focuses attention on one person
- Strategic placement of business meetings
- This is not the best choice for long, visual presentations
- Group disagreements can occur if the VIP or the person sitting next to them don’t see eye-to-eye
- Brainstorming sessions
- Meetings for small teams
- Strategic mergers
- Influencing the people seated in the middle of the table to agree with the VIP
Cornell University research has shown that sitting or standing closer to someone can make you feel more emotionally connected to them. This may be why cabaret-style seating at events helps to build relationships. You can use cocktail tables to fill your space or mix them with other types of seating. However, the chairs must be placed in a U-shape with an opening facing a focal point.
- While socializing is encouraged, guests can also focus on presentations or performances.
- It has a relaxed and organic vibe.
- Space is not maximized
- Awards shows
- Presentations on passive training
- Live entertainment