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Best Meeting & Conference Room Setup

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How to Arrange the Chairs?

While it may seem like an unimportant detail for many, those of us who have managed and experimented with events know that the way a room, chairs and tables are set-up is not a trivial matter.

Events of different types and sizes require different set-up. To get the right setup it is important to consider the size of the audience and the desired outcome of the event. The way chairs and tables are set up in a meeting or conference room depends on how you want content delivered to participants and the amount of interaction you are interested in. Different setups allow for various types of learning and participation.

Below you can see some of the most popular setups, courtesy of UCAR Event Services.

Theatre style

Rows of chairs are set up (or they are permanently fixed in the room) so that they all face the front of the room. Often there is a dividing line up the center and/or sides of the chairs which functions as an aisle. This is the best way to seat as many participants as possible in one room. The setting works best for presentations where minimal note-taking is required and with presentations of 2 hours or less in length.

Classroom style

Rows of tables are lined up with chairs on one side all facing the front on the room. This is particularly appropriate for informative sessions where there is some dialogue between the presenter and audience. It is possible to set up a table at the front of the room which would be ideal for a panel discussion. The setup allows for note-taking but limited interaction between participants.


Conference tables are placed end to end in the formation of a U. Chairs are placed around the outside of the table. This is best for presentations with audiences of 25 people or less. This setup is often used for meetings or discussion groups where there is a speaker, audio-visual presentation or other focal point.

Conference style

Can be set up either as several rows of tables or as a single conference table. This all depends on the number of participants. The conference style setting is perfect for interactive sessions where there is a good amount of workspace for each person and good communication/visual lines for the participants.

Banquet style

A banquet setup is usually used for events that include seated dining. This banquet style setup places participants at long rows of tables placed parallel and with the option of having a table for presenters of a panel at the front of the room. Participants can hear and see the presenter but have primary focus on fellow participants at their own table. For large conferences and events with a final dinner and show, this would be an ideal setup. Attention is on both the entertainment (which can be seen from all seats) and on what is happening at their own table.

Banquet rounds

This type of setup is generally used for food functions and is made up of standard round tables which seat 8-12 people. Banquet style setup allows for lively conversation and interaction amongst participants and breaks a large audience into smaller groups.

There are countless possibilities in terms of setups but the above options are some of the most used and popular arrangements. It is important to take the audience size into account as well as the overall goal for the event.

This chapter is a part of our e-book 40 tips for the perfect event. Sign up for our newsletter and get the complete book for free: Click here.

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