When you host a workshop or multi day event, the meeting room should be arranged the right way for the type of meeting you are running. There are several styles of meeting room set ups to choose from. There are room configurations that are especially suited for instruction with little interaction and there are other sets in which interaction is stimulated. Keep your vision and your strategy in mind when you select the set up. If you want your attendees to have more opportunities to interact, which stimulates learning anyway, choose one of the arrangements conducive to collaborating.
If you have a meeting for 24 people or less, a U-shape usually works best. In a U-shape, the tables are placed in a U with the open end facing the front of the room. This allows everyone to see each other, the presenter and any audiovisual (AV) equipment in the front of the room. This is the most popular grouping for smaller meetings.
If you have 8 attendees or fewer a conference style will work just fine. This style places tables together to form a large conference table. This is a good set up for board meetings or strategy meetings. Every one sits with their side to the front of the room. Although with a little turn of the chair they should still be able to see, this arrangement is better Meeting Room Equipment for groups that do not have presenters and little need for AV.
A hollow square is pretty much the way it sounds. This is good shape for interaction, as everyone can see each other. It allows you to place more people in a meeting room than with a U-Shape, or if you have the same amount of people, you can be closer together. However, since there is no open end and no front, this is not a good shape if you have any kind of AV, such as a projector or flipcharts. Inevitably, there will be attendees with their backs to the presentation.
Another good configuration for interaction in small groups is the cluster conference. In this set up, conference tables are set up in clusters or pods of 6 people facing each other and the front of the room. They can see the presenter and AV in the room, but when it comes time to work in groups this is the perfect grouping.
A similar set up is crescent rounds. Large (72″) tables are placed with chairs only on one side of the table facing the front. They can also see the presenter, any AV at the front of the room and still work in small groups, usually containing only 5 attendees.
For larger groups, or groups that do not need any or little interaction, the classroom or schoolroom style works well. The tables are positioned in rows facing the front of the room, with an aisle in the middle. Another way to place the tables if you have a larger room is to have 2 aisles toward the sides of the room. This way the speaker does not look into an aisle, but the friendly faces of the attendees. The advantage of this configuration is that everyone is facing the front, and that you can fit more people in the room than other set ups.
The last configuration is theater style. This is rows of chairs facing the front. This is only recommended for large groups with short general sessions. As there are no tables in the room, it is hard to take notes. There is also less space per person, so it is less comfortable for the attendees and generally not conducive for learning. When you have a large group that needs to be rallied and motivated, this style will work just fine. Even if you have a small group, but the workshop is short and you don’t expect a lot of note taking, the theater set up is ok.