Boardrooms and Conference Rooms »

How to Design Your Boardroom or Conference Room

Theater? Classroom? Banquet? Conference? U-Shape? Which type of meeting room setup should you use? The answer depends on the objective and primary function of the room. The most important features to consider are:

  • the size of your conference room
  • number of people you need to accommodate
  • uses for the conference table
  • power and data in your conference room
  • audiovisual requirements
  • the need for integrated monitors
  • furniture, such as chairs
  • accessory furniture
  • budget

In addition, there are a few configurations that you should be aware of to accomodate your needs:

Theater Style
When your participants will be treated like an audience (i.e., listening to a speaker or watching a slide presentation), theater-style is the most efficient setup. Chairs should be lined up in rows facing the speaker. The rows can be straight, semi-circular, or herringbone (angled toward the front of the room). If space isn’t an issue, it’s best to offset each row so that you audience members are not sitting directly behind one another.   This design  maximizes the seating capacity of meeting rooms and allow the audience to be as close to the speaker as possible. It is not recommended for taking notes, referring to material in binders, or any event at which food is served.

Classroom Style
Classroom-style is the best setup for situations in which the presenter is expected to do most of the talking and/or participants must take notes, refer to material in binders, or work on computer equipment. Long, narrow tables are positioned in front of rows of chairs facing the speaker. This is the most comfortable design for very long sessions. It is not the preferred setup for encouraging conversation among attendees.

Banquet Style
Banquet-style is the setup of choice for most meal functions. Guests are seated at round tables — usually 60″, 66″, or 72″ in diameter.  In addition, it’s appropriate for small committee meetings and small breakout or study groups involving group interaction and/or note taking.

Crescent Style
This design works well when you need to use a room for meals and for an educational session that immediately follows. Attendees are seated at round tables — usually 60″, 66″, or 72″ in diameter. The two or three chairs in
which delegates would have their backs to the speaker are removed, thus forming a “crescent” of seating facing the
speaker. It’s also appropriate for general sessions where attendees break into small discussion groups in the same room.

Conference Style
The conference-style setup is often used for board meetings, committee meetings, and other smaller functions at which interaction between participants is expected. This design also can be used for high-level food and beverage functions with a small number of guests. Participants are seated on all four sides of a table. For smaller groups (16 people or less), a single conference table is typically used. For larger groups, several 6′ x 30″ or 8′ x 30″ tables are often combined to create a solid rectangular table.

Rectangular tables are positioned to form a “U.” Seating is usually on the outside of the U, but it’s possible to seat delegates on both inside legs of the U. The U-shape setup is often used for board of directors meetings, committee meetings, and breakout sessions involving audio-visual presentations because all attendees can see the AV when the screen is placed at the open end of the U. It also can be used for banquets, with seating on all sides of the U.

Hollow Rectangle
Larger committee or board meetings of 17 to 30 people, at which interaction among attendees is important, can benefit from the hollow rectangle design. 30″ wide classroom tables are arranged in a square or other multi-sided design in which the center of the design is empty. (Note: Avoid long straight sections of tables over 12 feet long. Octagons and hexagons work well to improve sight lines among attendees.)