How to Plan a Conference Meeting Room Set up

Have you ever gone to a conference meeting where the room set up didn’t really match the format of the meeting? It can be uncomfortable and can really take your mind off of the meeting at hand. How to plan a conference meeting room set up basically depends on what’s going to happen during the conference meeting itself. Most of my beefs with the meeting room set up are centered around theater style settings. Those are the meetings where there are only chairs (like a theater) that faced the stage where the presenter is. This set up is perfectly fine for a keynote or presentation style of conference meeting. But all too often the audience is expected to take notes or participate in some way shape or form. This is when it becomes a little difficult to balance a notepad and whatever else you brought into the meeting.

How to Plan a Conference Meeting Room Set up for the Type of Meeting

A good conference facility, or more particularly a good conference manager, is able to suggest room setups based on your conference meeting format. I have been in the position where I’ve suggested formats to meeting planners in the past. Of course my suggestions were just that, suggestions. The ultimate decision is up to the person paying the bills – usually the conference planner. And often I see where they wouldn’t take the setup advice because they wanted to increase capacity or for whatever reason didn’t think the suggested set up was for them. And all too often I have listened to the attendees or conference delegates while they complain that there was no place to put their coffee, to write on, etc.

Following Is a Guidelines on Meeting Room Set ups:

Theater Style

As mentioned above this is a very common set up as it involves only chairs set up in rows facing the stage or front of the room. This is an ideal set up for a keynote speaker or for conference meeting were the format is more presentation style. This is also the typical format for press conferences.


Is very similar to a theater style set up except that each row of chairs has a small narrow rectangular table in front of it. As the name suggest this is an ideal set up when you require your conference attendees to write down information that they will receive during the meeting. Of course as you deviate from the theater style set up you do start to lose room space as you are adding additional equipment.


A round set up is very typical for a meal function. However, rounds are also used for some conference meeting setups. Usually rounds are used during a meeting if there will be food and beverage offered either before, during or after. When Rounds are used for a conference meeting, the setups is usually referred to as a half round. Unlike a meal function, you will lose about 40% use of the round as you position the chairs to face the front of the room (where the speaker or action is occurring).


As the name suggest this set up involves a series of tables joined in position in the shape like the U. The conference meeting presenter is usually positioned at the opening and have a table all to themselves. In-house company meetings use this popular format. You’ve probably seen this set up for many political meetings or hearings with the leader at the head table.

Hollow Square

Think of a U-shaped but completely closed. Basically the set up completes a square. There can still be a conference speaker or lead, but they are positioned at a seat like everybody else. Negotiating meeting rooms are commonly set up this way. It enables all sides to have equal workspace. And, especially for negotiations, the set up is ideal as you can easily see the people or persons that you need to speak to.


Budget – if your budget is tight, consider having a theater style setup. The benefit is that it takes the venue far less time to set up and you can use a smaller room than you would by using a different configuration.

Food and beverage – when determining your configuration, and if you are also requiring food and beverage consider a set up where your attendees have a table in front of them. This can save you both on time and from having to rent another room to host a meal function.

These are just a few of the more common conference meeting room setups. When you are selecting a venue for your conference, ask your venue contact for their recommendations. They know their meeting rooms, and after a few questions about what you’re looking for, they will be able to match a conference meeting room set up that will work for your group.

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