Event Seating: Choosing the Best Style for your Audience

Event Seating: Choosing the Best Style for your Audience

Every live event aims to deliver key messages that leave attendees feeling motivated. Through stimulating ideas, captivating speakers and creative presentations, you can inspire and engage your audience.

But behind this engagement lies a strategic planning process. Your messages are fruitless if not received to full effect and seating plans play a key part in this process. We’ve listed six of the most common seating styles below to help you pick the approach that best suits your needs.

1. Theatre Style

As the name suggests, theatre style seating consists of forward facing rows, with access aisles between such as you would find in an auditorium, cinema or, of course, a theatre. Allowing for the largest number of attendees, theatre style is a popular choice for large conferences and events where the stage is the focal point and little to no interaction is required amongst delegates. 

If using theatre style seating, consider your stage and set design. Your audience may get the best view from straight horizontal rows or staggered rows at an angle. 

2. Classroom Style

As you would expect, classroom style greatly facilitates a learning environment. Attention is still drawn to the front as with theatre style, but with the addition of tables for notetaking, handout materials or laptops.

As such, classroom style is well suited to training or breakout sessions, workshops and educational presentations.

3. Boardroom

The boardroom style sees attendees seated around three or four sides of a rectangular layout or large conference table, enabling group discussion. A classic meeting room style that allows for face to face interaction, boardroom seating is commonly associated with high level executive meetings, team briefings and sales presentations.

Many conference venues will have dedicated boardrooms already laid out in this style, allowing for more intimate meetings as a compliment or addition to the main event.

4. U Shape or Horseshoe

A layout which sees tables arranged in the shape of a U – or horseshoe – with attendees facing inwards, creating a central presentation area. This style is perfect for smaller meetings where interaction is required between the presenter and audience.

This makes the U shape a great choice for interactive workshops and training sessions.

5. Banquet 

The classic dining style – round tables with attendees sat in circular formation. Perfect for events where food service plays an integral role, banquet style seating is most commonly found at weddings and gala dinners. The key to banquet style is good use of space – your guests will expect to dine in comfort so don’t overcrowd your tables – and allow plenty of space between for service staff to move with ease.

Banquet seating is also a popular choice for award shows, however, if your attendees are required to look towards a stage for a long period of time, banquet style can prove uncomfortable. Which brings us too….

6. Cabaret 

Banquet with a view, cabaret style sees a portion of a circular table left clear, allowing the audience a line of vision towards a central stage or presentation area. A slightly less formal and more interactive layout, cabaret lends itself to many styles of event including conferences, training seminars and smaller product launches.

It is, however, also the most restrictive of layout styles in terms of numbers, so make sure to work to your highest attendee estimate when planning for this style.

This list is not extensive. There are many ways to plan the layout of your event seating but these tried and tested methods are, more often than not, the best way to engage with your attendees. Making the most of your space requires effective collaboration between you, your venue and your creative, production and AV teams.  

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