March 25, 2014 | Valerie Wong
So you want your meeting to go without a hitch. If you're in charge of setting up your meeting room (or, at the very least, you're the one who has to tell the custodian or janitor of the building how the whole panel, table placement, and whatnot should be dealt with), then here are some handy tips and recommendations you can try out. A meeting room should not be used just because it's there; the professional way to handle things is to adjust your meeting room in accordance to your needs. Rearranging chairs and tables to face one way or another isn't just an aesthetic choice; it could also make or break the meeting itself.
The Basic Meeting Room Layout Options You Can Try Out
Before anything else, you should remember that how the meeting room is laid out will depend on the content being delivered to the participants and how the presentation should be done. If projectors are involved, then it should be laid out to accommodate that piece of equipment without making it hard for the rest of the members of the meeting to see what's going on. Your room choice or setup choice will impact the way you present, so choose wisely and in accordance to your objectives. The classroom style is the most popular style for meeting boardrooms with one speaker.
It involves using rows of tables with two to three chairs for each of them arranged to face the front of the room, as you would set up a classroom. This is perfect when it comes to a presentation that involves a lot of lectures, member interaction, and loads of information. The presenters are the providers of info, and dialogue with the audience is involved. As for theater style meeting room layout, this is perfect when it comes to short, 2-hour-long presentations (i.e., a movie or a PowerPoint slide show) with minimal notes. It also maximizes room space by having the chairs face the front of the room with a center aisle like you would a theater.
More Advanced Meeting Room Styles
Six- to-eight-foot conference tables are called for when it comes to conference style meeting rooms. They're typically gathered in the middle of the room to from one solid structure. From there, chairs are placed across the table perimeter. This is perfect for small brainstorming sessions without a designated leader or presenter. Like King Arthur's Round Table, this constitutes discussions among equals, because no one leader or presenter is setting the pace of the meeting, and everyone can contribute and have a say on the matter, like a democratic meeting place of sorts. As for the U-shape style meeting, it involves placing three six-to-eight-foot conference tables end-to-end to form the Letter U.
The chairs are placed outside the U, and it's the best meeting room style for meetings involving small groups of people that need to converse between the audience and the presenter while at the same time including conversations between the participants themselves. Finally, there's the hollow square style, and it works like this. The tables are placed in a rectangular or square outline with an open space in the middle, and chairs are placed around the square's perimeter. It's kind of like the conference style, but this time there's a "hole" in the middle plus there's more workspace, visual lines, and communication angles for each member to feel comfortable with.
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