COnference room with the chairs arranged in a theatre-style seatingOnce you’ve located the perfect venue for your next meeting, the next step of your planning should be to maximize the use of your meeting space.

The type of room layout you use will depend on your meeting’s purpose. Today we’ll be discussing theatre-style seating: when to use it, what it’s good for, and how to maximize your meeting space with it.

As one of the most popular styles of seating arrangements, there are many benefits to setting up a theatre seating arrangement for your next business meeting.


What Is Theatre-Style Seating?

Theatre style seating, as the name implies, mimics the seating of a movie theatre. Chairs are placed in parallel straight rows with aisles between them. Attendees face forward toward the stage or main speaker. This seating arrangement is one of the easiest to set-up and therefore one of the most common.

For meetings where guest speakers or long presentations play a key role, theatre-style layouts are one of the most effective ways to keep attendees focused.

Therefore, many professionals use theatre style seating arrangements for their most important meetings. Not only are participants facing forward, making them less likely to talk amongst themselves, but the seating arrangement also allows everyone to see presentation materials easily.

There are a few disadvantages to using this seating arrangement. Narrow access in and out of seats is one of the biggest issues with theatre seating. Care must be taken to arrange the aisles and rows so that they are not too narrow. Additionally, non-digital notetaking is difficult due to the lack of tables or desks.


When To Use A Theatre-Style Seating Arrangement

When the purpose of your meeting is to capture your audience’s attention, using theatre style seating helps reach that goal.

Theatre style seating is used in a variety of venues and for meetings of all types. Because a theatre-style layout lacks tables, it is best suited for meetings that will not require extensive note-taking. This style of seating lends itself well to informational or promotional meetings.

The following types of meetings lend themselves well to a theatre-style meeting room setup:

  • Annual review meetings
  • Product launches
  • Team briefings
  • Presentations

Theatre style seating is also one of the most frequently used room layouts when trying to maximize space. Due to the lack of tables, there is more space available for attendees. Attendees can still easily use laptops or phones to take quick digital notes as well. Due to this, many meeting planners prefer theatre-style seating over classroom-style seating.


Classroom vs. Theatre-Style Seating

Classroom style seating mimics the type of layout used in most school classrooms. Chairs and tables are set in parallel rows with aisles between them. While this meeting room layout may allow for extensive note-takers to feel at home, everyone else may feel cramped and transported back to the classroom.

However, there are many ways that theatre-style seating and classroom seating are similar. They both focus attendees’ eyes to the front rather than with each other, which limits participation but increases the overall focus on the meeting. Additionally, rows for both seating layouts are designed to maximize space usage.

When deciding how to stage a room’s layout, there are many factors to consider. For various meetings, theatre-style seating will use your space in the most efficiently by allowing all attendees to see presentations and stay focused on the speaker. Due to the lack of tables, more chairs can be used to increase the capacity of the meeting. However, for meetings where note-taking or handouts are required, a classroom-style seating layout should be considered instead.


The Importance of Your Seating Layout

The seating layout of your meeting room sets the tone for the entire meeting. A cramped seating layout leaves attendees feeling uncomfortable and unfocused. A well-planned seating layout allows you to keep your attendees focused on the purpose of your meeting.

When planning your meeting, consider the purpose of your meeting before selecting a layout. For many traditional marketing or business meetings where attendee engagement will be limited, a theatre-style seating arrangement makes the most effective use of your space. In addition, this style of seating keeps attendees facing forward toward the presentation or speaker. These subtle benefits of this type of seating arrangement, when combined with the ease of setting it up, make it a popular first choice for many business meetings.

Spare Workspace allows you to compare thousands of potential meeting rooms for your next meeting. Whether you’re looking for a large meeting room that allows you to present to entire teams using theatre seating, or are simply looking to give a small presentation to a select few employees, Spare Workspace helps connect you with the perfect meeting room for your needs. When you need a break from the regular monotony of your own office space, taking your meeting to a new venue can encourage innovation and motivation among your employees.


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