When planning an event, it is important to understand different seating plans and how your venue will best accommodate your guests. When designing a seating plan for your next event, keep in mind the type and size of the event and the venue, any planned entertainment, and participant communication.
Here are some of the most common seating plans, and the events where they are most often used.
When your event requires little or no interaction between attendees, and features some form of entertainment, speaker, or a presentation, theater style seating is an ideal option. Chairs are set up in rows, facing a stage or the front of the venue. These rows may be straight, semi-circles, angled, or circles (with the focal point in the center).
In order to provide maximum comfort for guests, be sure to leave some space between the chairs and allow for a minimum of 24 inches between rows. If your event requires participants to take a test, fill out paperwork, use a laptop, or have food and drinks, consider placing banquet tables or conference tables in front of the chairs; (this is called classroom style seating).
Theater style seating is commonly used for presentations, wedding ceremonies, concerts, etc., and allows maximum seating capacity to be achieved for the venue.
Cocktail style seating can vary, depending on the event. In some cases, only tall cocktail tables without chairs are used; other events may use tall cocktail tables with or without bar stools, along with some low cocktail tables with chairs. These tables serve as a place to gather and place food and drinks while socializing, but encourage movement. Cocktail style allows for guests to sit or stand, thanks to the ability to use both tall tables and shorter tables with chairs.
This layout is common before dinner at wedding receptions, for cocktail parties, holiday parties, and other social gatherings.
U Shape or Horse Shoe
U Shape seating is exactly like it sounds – a rectangle with one short side open (ideal when using tables); Horse Shoe seating is very similar, but uses chairs to create a rounded semi-circular layout.
These seating layouts allow the participants to face inward, toward one another, which is ideal for small conferences where open discussion is necessary or encouraged. Because one end is left open, the front of the space can be used for presentations or entertainment. This also allows a presenter to walk in the space in the center and interact with attendees.
U Shape or Horse Shoe seating is commonly used for training workshops, conferences, and meetings.
Boardroom or Conference
Boardroom style seating places the participants around a large rectangular table, all facing each other. This allows for open conversation and interaction. This setup is not ideal if there is any kind of presentation, since there will always be some people with their backs to the front of the room.
Boardroom style is often used for small meetings, interviews, brainstorming, briefings, and presentations where the presenter remains at the head of the table.
This seating plan has all participants facing inward in a closed square (or rectangle). This plan is ideal for gatherings in which open communication is necessary, but there is no presentation or speaker in which the audience must face the front of the room.
The hollow square layout is commonly used for discussions, support groups, and meetings.
This style uses a large round and/or rectangular tables, with the attendees seated all around the perimeter of the tables. This allows interaction among small groups, and typically includes a number of tables situated throughout the venue space.
Banquet style is popular for wedding receptions, fundraising events, awards dinners, holiday parties, and other large events where guests will be having a meal.
Cabaret seating is very similar to Banquet style, however one side of the table is left open, so everyone at the table is facing forward with a view to the front of the room. This allows everyone in the room to easily see a main focal point for a presentation or entertainment.
Cabaret is used for gala dinners, awards nights, and meetings.
Check out our wide variety of table and chair rentals to meet your next event’s needs.
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