When it comes to setting up a conference event, you have more choices for seating than you might think. And depending on the type of event that it is, your choice of seating can be very important. Will note-taking be required? Will there be a motivational speaker? Do you need to discourage talking amongst the conference attendees during a presentation? Will food be served? Believe it or not, each of these scenarios calls for a different seating style. Learn about the different conference seating options and discover which one is best for your next event.

The Boardroom

If it's going to be a small conference, with no more than a dozen or so attendees, the boardroom arrangement might be right for you. This is a somewhat intimate seating set-up that usually consists of office chairs around a long table, and is best used for when the attendees will all be participating in the conversation and will be on relatively equal footing.

If the guest list is too large, the intimate feeling of the boardroom falls apart. There will be too many people shouting over the table and the room will feel too crowded.

The Horseshoe

Arranging chairs in a U-shape facing the speaker is a common choice for conferences that include a motivational speaker. This seating arrangement also works best when there are a smaller number of conference participants, though the horseshoe can support more people than the boardroom. This set-up allows the speaker to easily see and address individuals within the group.

For groups larger than 25 or so, the intimacy of the horseshoe seating is lost, and the room becomes too crowded for the speaker to navigate easily.

The School Room

The school room conference setting is just what it sounds like: a seating arrangement that consists of chair and desk set-ups. This seating style supports more people than either the boardroom or the horseshoe seating arrangements, as long as your conference room is large enough, but requires less space than the remaining seating arrangements.

The school room is ideal for a conference where the attendees are expected to take lots of notes, such as a training session or sales conference.

The Theater

If you have a large list of invited attendees that need to be able to easily see and hear the speaker or presentation, theater seating is the way to go. Theater seating is believed to actually discourage the people in the seats from talking amongst themselves as well. This is vital when you expect to have a large group of conference attendees. The occasional side conversation may not pose a major problem in a smaller, more intimate setting, but during a large presentation such distractions should be avoided if at all possible.

While theater seating may not be appropriate if you expect your conference attendees to take copious notes, it's actually to your advantage not to have tables or desks for a presentation that doesn't require note taking. Theater style seating also discourages attendees from pulling out unneeded notebooks and writing materials, which can also distract other audience members.

The Banquet

Banquet style seating requires a large room and round tables, with anywhere between five and ten people seated around each table. It's important not to crowd people into their tables, so be sure that you have enough tables to seat guests comfortably around the tables, leaving everyone plenty of room to move their arms.

Choose banquet style seating when food is going to be served, and when the conference event is formal or of a celebratory nature. Banquet style seating can accommodate as many people as the size of your conference room allows, and it works better with large groups than small ones.

The next time that you're responsible for choosing the seating arrangements for a conference event, careful consideration of the event type and number of attendees will help you choose the perfect seating style, along with professionals like Preferred Seating Co, Inc.