Check Room Setup and Seating Arrangements
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Seating Arrangement Options
There are a few standard seating arrangements that you can use at your events. These include theatre style (where you have chairs with nothing in front of them), classroom style, U-shape, and round tables.
If you have an event that lasts longer than a few hours, don’t use theatre style seating. Although you can pack a lot more people into a smaller room, it’s difficult for people to tolerate sitting that way for any length of time. People need a place to write.
A U-shape (also known as a horseshoe) is best used with groups under 25. This is where you set up tables in the shape of a U. You then deliver your presentation within the U itself. This is best to use if you want to set up classroom style but you don’t have a large crowd.
For groups of more than 25 where there will be a lot of writing and note taking you’ll want to set up classroom style This is where every participant has a table in front of them.
Round tables are a favorite of many presenters where there will be a lot of group exercises. I like using round tables for seminars where there is a lot of interactivity among participants.
People have to be seated comfortably to increase the chances of their buying. The more comfortable you can make them without making them sleepy the better off you’ll be. For presentations longer than two hours, never seat people theatre style.
Scoping Out the Room
The people who set up the seminar meeting room for you may not get it exactly right. It’s important to check the room setup and the seating arrangement before it’s too late to fix them.
Make sure that you and your visual screens (if you’re using them) can be seen from all the seats. Take note of where the projector is located and sit in the seats whose views might be obscured by it. If those seats don’t work well, relocate the chairs or have the hotel staff do so.
Where do you control the room temperature and lighting? Do you understand how to use them? If not, get someone to show you. Few things are more disruptive to a smooth-flowing seminar than to have these kinds of logistical issues get in the way.
Is there enough space between chairs, both side to side and front to back? Are your attendees going to be comfortable sitting for several hours? You can’t always control this, but if you start early enough, you often can.
Is all the equipment you need in place? Easel? Markers? White board? Eraser? Overhead projector? If you’re using any projection equipment, do you have at least one spare bulb for each unit?
If you’ve asked for a classroom setup where everyone is seated at a table, do you have pens or pencils (maybe with your company’s advertising on them?) in place? Are there writing tablets for everyone, assuming they’re not included in the seminar packet you’re going to pass out? Sometimes in classroom settings, it’s a good idea to have water and perhaps some hard candies available around the room as well.