Just as there are many ways to hold a meeting, there are many ways to lay out your tables and chairs, with some being more useful than others. It may seem like a small consideration but working this out early can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Common layouts for meeting rooms include:
Theatre – generally consists of chairs in rows, facing the front.
Boardroom – one large table, or many tables joined together to form one, with chairs surrounding it.
Classroom – tables set out in rows or a similar pattern with chairs behind them to imitate classrooms.
Banquet – several individual tables with chairs, primarily for dining.
To help you make these decisions, here are a few helpful questions.
How many people are attending?
This is one question that makes a big impact but should be easy to answer. If you can finalise your numbers quickly, it will make planning the rest of the event much easier and will determine what you are doing. After all, more people take up more space.
How much room do you have?
Depending on the number of attendees, you may need to book a larger room but it is worth remembering that different layouts will take up more room than others. Theatre can fit the largest number of people into one space, whereas boardroom and classroom will fit the smallest number of people. When researching your meeting or conference space, make sure you look at the headcounts for each layout type, as you may find that you need a bigger area than you thought.
What will the attendees be doing during the meeting?
One of the most I important questions for picking out a room and layout is knowing what will be happening during the meeting. If you have a plan in mind but not enough room for it, you’ll have to do some fast thinking later.
When booking your meeting space, you will need to know the rough agenda and plan for the meeting, as what you are doing will affect the layout you need. If you are going to be presenting to an audience, then theatre works best for this, as you can fit many people into the space. If it is more of a learning environment, you may need to consider using a classroom layout, as this will facilitate note-taking and use of any course materials. If group collaboration is more appropriate for your meeting, then boardroom works well, or for several smaller groups, banquet can work very well for this, especially if it is combined with a dining experience.
Will you need to change the layout partway through?
If you would prefer to have one half of your day as a theatre layout for presentations but break off into seminar groups later on, you will need to make sure that the room can handle that change. Speak to your event co-ordinator to find out what changes will be possible on the day. It may be easier to book several smaller rooms for the afternoon session to facilitate these discussion groups so make sure your venue can handle this.