In Venue Information

Event Organisers can spend hours planning conferences and events, the room layout is not always something highly considered but it can, in fact, be one of the most important factors and can make all the difference.

Events are about communicating a message and different seating arrangements can have different impacts on your audience so therefore different outcomes. You can change the environment just by changing the way in which participants interact with the speaker and one another.

Sofitel London Heathrow - Accor Hotels
Meeting Room layout - classroom style

We have put together a guide listing some of the most popular seating styles along with their pro’s and con’s so that you can choose the best option for your next corporate event.

Theatre style

This style reflects the seating found in a theatre or cinema where the chairs are aligned in consecutive rows.


– All seats face forwards so it makes for a great presentation layout.

– Maximum seated capacity can be achieved.


– Difficult for audience to interact with each other as not facing.

– Delegates cannot take notes or consume plated food easily due to no tables.

– Access – audience members need to push past each other to enter/exit the seating area.

Theatre style room layout

Classroom style

Reflecting a school or lecture theatre, this room layout also has chairs in consecutive straight rows but they sit behind a trestle table.


– Again all seats face forward.

– The tables allow for note taking along with the consumption of plated food and beverages.


– Seating capacity is reduced from that of theatre Style due to the space required for the tables.

– Access is again difficult.

Boardroom style

One large table with chairs around the sides usually in a square or rectangular shape


– All audience members facing inwards which encourages discussion.


– Not practical when it comes to presentations as someone will always have their back to it.


As you would expect from the name, the tables and chairs are in the shape of a ‘U’, an open ended configuration where the audience faces inwards.



– Presenter can interact and engage with all audience members.

– Audience can interact with each other.


– Unproductive use of floor space with an empty middle section.

– Majority of the audience are sat side-on to the presentation area.

Banquet style

Audience sit around the circumference of multiple tables (usually round) facing inwards. Ideal for a dinner.


– Audience can fully interact with each other.


– If there is an award giving, entertainment or a presentation a large number of people will need to turn their chairs to see.

Cabaret style

Similar to ‘Banquet Style’ the audience sit around multiple tables, however not fully around the circumference but in an arc.


– The open end allows audience to see presentations.


– Inefficient use of floor space, seating capacity is reduced.


Unlike any other style, there are no chairs or tables, this layout is literally standing space.


– Audience can network freely mingling and roaming.

– It offers the maximum room capacity and most efficient use of space.


– Standing only- no opportunity to sit or rest.

– Does not allow for easy consumption of plated food.

When choosing a layout for your next event, there are some key questions that you need to consider:

Is the event formal or informal?

Is there a designated leader?

Do all delegates need to be able to see a presentation?

How many people are attending the event – are there any obstructions in the room (such as pillars) that may block sight level

DeSouza Associates offer a free venue finding service and can advise you on the ideal layout for your event – call us on 01252 722185 or complete our contact form.


We look forward to hearing from you

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