Plan your conference layout flawlessly

When it comes to conferencing and special events, there is a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes coordination, flawless logistics and designing elements, ensuring that tailor made experiences that foster bonding and great interaction amongst attendees is provided.

“That’s why events professionals should understand and harness the true potential of a good seating layout,” states Sean Granger, General Manager of Granny Mouse Country House & Spa. “Apart from enhancing the attendee experience, the way you map the site and accommodate the venue will greatly affect how your guests interact with each other.”

One needs to take several aspects into account ensuring location of seating and proximity to attendees.  To help navigate all these aspects, Granny Mouse has some tips on how to create a layout to ensure guest interaction.

Choose the right type of interaction format and, depending on your goals and the type of attendees, you should come up with a specific seating layout for your conference.

From open spaces, round tables to fishbowls and pro-action cafes, there are multiple interaction formats for events. If you want to help people connect, you can place them in small discussion groups and, during the event, ask them to interact. If you want the participants to mingle at some point during the event, make sure your seating layout supports that environment. The only thing you must keep in mind is the intention you’re pursuing and if you’ll be able to reach it through the interaction format you’ve chosen for your event.

Decide the optimal number of guests per group/table and if you choose to go with roundtables or a half-moon layout, you must know exactly how many attendees you can seat per table. The number of people per table has a big influence on how well they interact with each other. For example, if you want attendees to connect through problem-solving or decision-making skills (using different games during the event), seat no more than five guests at each table.

On the other hand, if you want to foster engagement through problem identification skills (through challenges, for example), it’s advisable to have bigger tables of about ten people.

When mixing and matching your table groups an important aspect to consider when choosing a round table format for your event is deciding who sits next to whom. For better interaction, it’s recommended to mix your attendees up a bit and try to sit people who don’t already know each other at the same tables. This is best done by pre-planning the seating arrangement.

A great seating layout is sometimes not enough if your goal is to get everyone to interact with each other. Think about providing a series of engaging activities to lift spirits. This will make everyone feel more comfortable and break the ice.  Design a series of co-creative dynamics and help people bond while doing something together.

The secret to a successful seating layout is not just about the venue design. Although the interaction formats are crucial in engaging your guests, it’s also important to understand a series of subtleties that will make this happen.

Make sure you have clear goals and know on what basis you want the attendees to interact. Be very careful in identifying the expectations of your guests and positioning key influencers at certain tables. Apart from that, don’t expect the seating layout to work by itself.

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