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Meeting and Conference Room Layouts Ideas

meeting & conference room
layout ideas

If you have invited your audience to communicate a message, deliver a presentation, introduce key stakeholders or meet new delegates, the space in which the meeting or conference is held is often just as important as the message you are trying to deliver to the audience or those in attendance.

Without the right space, your message may get lost. For maximum impact, considering the layout of your room is key, ensuring everyone can hear the speakers clearly, and for those who are joining virtually, the digital screen must be in view. Those longer and more complex meetings have a different set of factors required compared to a small interactive meeting that welcomes the opinions and input of its guests.

Here, we will consider several meeting room layouts and the efficacy depending on the meeting type.

Boardroom Style Layout

A more personable approach to a conference or meeting setting. The boardroom style layout consists of one single table that is large enough to seat all delegates comfortably. Available in melamine, wood veneer and glass, allow your boardroom table to breathe life, and purpose, into your meeting space. Pair with quality boardroom chairs, choosing from traditional or modern, depending on your style preference.

Perfect for aiding discussions, hosting business meetings, and delivering agenda focussed sessions or interviews with prospective employees, the boardroom style layout positions guests facing inwards, encouraging interaction from all directions around the boardroom table.

Theatre, or Auditorium, Style Layout

Think classic conference, the theatre style layout lends itself to keynote speakers, opinion leaders, lecturers, insightful guests or conference hosts. Similar to the standard theatre formation, there is a central spot for the speaker to command the attention of their guests or audience.

Audience chairs are placed in a straight line facing the stage, making this an ideal layout for passive learning and one-way knowledge sharing but with little opportunity for two-way conversations or engagement between the speaker and their audience.

When hosting larger groups, the theatre style conference room layout works best for delivering presentations or speeches, however, guests are often positioned tightly spaced together with little room to jot down notes on a pad or laptop. If the room does not adhere to the space that the theatre style requires, the classroom style layout may be more suitable.

While the theatre style layout is often the most simplest and popular of layouts, this style hinders guest interaction as audience members donít face each other directly and engage in conversation.

U-Shape Style Layout

Small and intimate, yet engaging and purposeful. The u-shape style layout is perfect for smaller discussions, presentations, or in-house training. As the name suggests, the u-shape conference room style is created from several rectangular tables placed end to end to illustrate the letter U.

The u-shaped style, or horseshoe formation it is also referred to, allows all attendees to clearly see both each other and the speaker, allowing for easy discussions/debates between their peers or for questions with the speaker. The speaker often positions themselves at the open end of the u-shape, allowing for a two-way conversation. In comparison with the other table layouts highlighted, the u-shape format is one of the most interactive ways to position your group, aiding productivity and discussion.

For speakers, the u-shape is a great way to command the attention of guests and encourage guests to engage in meaningful comments and questions, facilitating conversations between the speaker and the audience.

One of the most versatile conference room layouts is the u-shape arrangement, which lends itself to so many situations, particularly for those more intimate and those that involve discussion. With each guest comfortably seated at a table, guests can make notes with ease and interact with their peers.

Hollow Square (a.k.a box) Style Layout

Ideal for hosting discussions and welcoming open communication, the hollow square formation works best for meetings with breakout sessions involving smaller groups. The distinguishable element of this particular design is the empty space in the middle, which allows a speaker to navigate between the surrounding tables to facilitate discussions, display a presentation to the group or inspire a discussion.

For easy communication, the hollow square style aids communication between delegates and allows for the meeting facilitator to roam between the surrounding tables to check in, observe progress and engage in smaller group discussions.

Cabaret Style Layout

Comfortable and spacious, the cabaret style layout for meetings or conferences is a great choice in several situations; team building activities, presentations, workshops or group work. In an informal seating arrangement, guests are seated forward facing across two-thirds of the table so all delegates have an unobstructed view of the front of the room, each other and the presenter. The open end of the table directs an audienceís attention to a focal point such as a screen or stage.

Whether your purpose is to encourage discussion, enable teams to work together or showcase a product or presentation from the front of the room, the cabaret style of seating offers versatility depending on the requirements of the meeting.

Classroom Style Layout

A classic classroom style layout is arranged in parallel rows facing the front of the room in a single direction, supporting interaction between the speaker and the audience, and less between participants. Common in training sessions or workshops, there are many perks to this style of seating.

Tables or desks can be used by guests for jotting down notes or using their laptops with ease and the layout can help to maximise space with tables and desks so it is ideal for larger groups.

While this layout is convenient in many ways, this room setup requires careful planning to ensure each participantís line of vision is clear and that all participants can become properly engaged with the content that is being delivered.

If the space allows you, staggered seating helps keep the view clear for guests seated near the back of the conference room.

Banquet (a.k.a dinner) Style Layout

Similar to a dinner table setup, the banquet style room arrangement consists of round tables with participants facing inwards towards each other.

Encouraging full interaction between people sitting at one table, this formation is often used for interactive workshops or meetings that require group discussions or exercises. Ideal for networking, formal or informal gatherings, award ceremonies or annual gala meetings, the circular seating allows guests to converse and get to know each other without the need to focus attention on a central focal point e.g. stage or platform.

Both engagement and participation are two key factors in more or less every meeting or conference, and the arrangement of the room can play a big part in making this happen successfully. The room set up in a meeting or conference is a critical aspect and has the potential to determine the speakerís effectiveness and the interaction of the audience.

Becoming mindful of the conference setup can encourage interactions between the speaker and their peers and different arrangements will complement different purposes.

Whether the purpose is for a meeting, in-person or video conferences, product launches, keynote speeches or training presentations, it is important not to overlook the arrangement of the room to ensure maximum productivity for all those in attendance.

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