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Spark Meeting Energy with Creative Seating Arrangements

September 10, 2015

Get ready to shake things up at your next conference or event and spark the meeting energy with creative seating arrangements. Meeting planners looking for a fresh vibe that will inspire ideas and foster collaboration can have a huge impact simply by switching up the seating. Opting for eclectic furniture groupings with mixed seating and comfortable workspaces are great ways to create a unique and more effective meeting environment.

Here are a several suggestions that can ramp up the seating and ultimately the energy of your next program:

1) Functional Comfort – Make sure guests are comfortable.
 At lengthy meetings and seminars, attendees can spend as many as eight hours in the same chair, so it better be comfortable. Adding padded armchairs or even high tables with padded stools can enhance the overall experience and increase attention spans.

2) Encourage Creativity & Teamwork – Did you know that soft seating such as beanbags encourages collaboration and creative thinking? According to an article on neuroscience in Inc. Magazine, relaxation inspires creativity, which invites ideas and thus collaboration. Likewise, having attendees face each other fosters teamwork. Instead of basic banquet rounds, try arranging comfortable sofas in small square clusters or opt for the more casual beanbags set in a circle.

3) Social Functionality – Millennials are tech savvy, quick moving and social. Seating that promotes interaction and mobility is ideal. Lounge clusters, or high top sharing tables with quick access bar stools are perfect for this social, on-the-move group.

4) Workspace Options – What are the needs of the attendees? Will they be taking notes or using their computers? Is it an interactive meeting? Will guests need space to work? Offering workspace stations within the meeting space can be an easy way to help attendees take notes or spread out without disturbing others. Adding several high-tops with bar stools behind the traditional seating can quickly provide the much needed but often overlooked work areas. Make it convenient for everyone attending the meeting by placing charging stations and/or email workstations throughout the meeting space.

5) Twisting Tradition – In cases where there just doesn’t seem to be any option but to use a traditional set up, making just a few minor tweaks with the furniture on hand will still spice things up and boost attention spans. Combining cocktail tables, banquet rounds and highboys or even sharing tables along the perimeter will add variety and dimension. Additionally, diverse seating arrangements automatically put the brain to work; synapses fire a bit more quickly, inspiring creativity and thought.

6) Consider the View – Traditional conference seating (classroom or theater) may seem like the best use of space but it does not offer the best stage visibility and hinders communication. Choosing unconventional seating arrangements can maximize visibility and increase interaction. Los Angeles based interior designer Susan Manrao suggests positioning colorful lounge furniture closest to the stage, with standard-height tables and chairs next, followed by higher tables and stools farthest from the stage. Not only does this arrangement give attendees plenty of seating options, it also allows for the best sightlines.

7) Encourage Interaction – 
Create original groupings that spark creativity and social interaction by using chairs, couches and ottomans to promote a more comfortable conversational setting. Or bring the outdoors in and set the tone for a casual but inspired meeting. At a recent conference held in Newport Beach, CA, the meeting planner scattered brightly colored, fun patio furniture throughout the pre-function area. The look became a conversation starter and instantly fired up the energy, jumpstarting creativity!

As the Experts
Not sure what will work in the space you’ve booked? Ask about existing inventory and take a look at what other groups have done with the same space, or hire a professional event designer. There are plenty of furniture rental companies with designers in-house as well as DMC’s and CVB’s who have seen space transformed with unique options. Asking what worked, what didn’t and why will help minimize any possible problems before they arise and ensure a comfortable yet functional meeting design.

Are you in need of a great destination with plenty of indoor and outdoor function space? Contact Visit Newport Beach, we’d love to help! We have an abundance of knowledge and resources that can help extend the meeting budget,

Written by Visit Newport Beach Meetings

As a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Visit Newport Beach provides destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources tailored specifically to the needs of meeting planners and their clients.

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