How To Arrange Seating for a Conference or Training Session

Seating arrangements for conferences or training sessions help boost the efficiency and effectiveness of the sessions. Seating arrangements are more popularly knows as room setups. A setup should be chosen wisely based on the number of attendees, the theme of the conference or training, with the added intent of providing easy access and comfort to those who will be attending.

You can confer with the venue personnel and discuss what your needs are, the type of conference or training you are conducting, how the training or conference is going to be conducted, the expected number of people attending, and the size of the room you require. The seating arrangement impact largely on how you conduct the session. Are visual presentations a part of the session? Will there be question and answer portions, manual demonstrations, and audience participation? The answers to these questions will guide you and the venue personnel in making the right choice.

There are categories for seating arrangements, small groups with 40 or less attendees and large groups when attendees number beyond forty.

For small groups, the ideal seating arrangements encourage active communication and participation among attendees. These are the choices:

1.    Hollow Rectangle or Square Arrangement

  • Suited for sessions where rank is not an issue
  • Best for facilitator-led sessions
  • Tables are arranged to form a rectangle or a square with the ends touching.

2.    Boardroom Arrangement

  • Setup uses one long, big table
  • Head speaker sits on top of the table and the participants sit around the table
  • A formal arrangement with emphasis on hierarchy
  • Good for groups between 6 and 15

3.    Perpendicular Arrangement

  • Tables are placed parallel to each other and perpendicular to the stage
  • Seats may be placed on either side of the tables
  • Facilitator has a small separate table or lectern
  • Provides easy interaction among participants and facilitator
  • Center aisle provides easy access when there are demonstrations and informal discussion

4.    U-Shaped Arrangement

  • Same as the perpendicular arrangement with a smaller table on one end to form a U.
  • Facilitator can have a separate table or use a lectern
  • Setup encourages collaboration and easy access for hands-on demonstration and audience participation

5.    Circle or Semi-Circle Arrangement

  • Suited for very small groups
  • Can be with or without tables
  • For more intimate discussions
  • Facilitator can have another table, chair, a lectern or none at all

6.    Cluster Type Arrangement

  • Suited for sessions with break away groups
  • Tables can be round or small rectangles that can seat between 4 to 8 people
  • Facilitator uses a lectern

For big groups, here are some suggested arrangements:

1.    Theater Style

  • Used for very large audiences where the speaker is the main focus
  • Does not encourage note-taking since there are no tables provided for this seating arrangement
  • Participants sit side by side in long rows

2.    Classroom Style

  • Same as theater style but with tables
  • Seating arrangement varies depending on how many people can sit in one table
  • Encourages note-taking

3.    Chevron or Herringbone Style

  • Encourages interaction among participants
  • Facilitates viewing of visual presentations
  • Tables arranged at an angle
  • Most dynamic of all the seating arrangements

4.    Modified Chevron Style

  • Center tables are arranged in parallel rows
  • Side tables are arranged at an angle
  • Facilitates viewing of visual presentations and demonstrations even from the sides
  • Better choice than theater or classroom type if space and number of participants permit

Select the right seating arrangement that will support the presenter and theme of the conference or training session. Ensure also the comfort of participants and request for chairs that are adjustable and comfortable for long sessions.


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: