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What Role Does Seating Play In Meeting Productivity?

Posted: 7.12.13
Category: AFR Residential

Have you ever stopped to pay attention to where people sit in your meetings?  Have you ever noticed how long people will remain seated before needing a break?  Have you considered how the content and layout of your meeting can have an impact on its effectiveness?  Seating has a great impact on the productivity of your meetings and general sessions.  The arrangement, the type of chair, and the configuration all play great roles in creating an atmosphere that can either help you, or work against the impact of your sessions.

At AFR Event Furnishings, we are excited about working with you to create just the right space in which you can effectively deliver your message and achieve the results you want.

two different office conference rooms pictured side by side

For smaller meetings there are three basic configurations to encourage maximum results:

Problem solving and Teamwork:  For problem solving you want everyone facing each other.  Using tables with seating for 10 or 12 work well for this type of communication. Chairs should be comfortable with solid back support.  Take a look at our Criss Cross or Sonic chairs. If you don’t need a table to work on, then try using our Empire or Whisper chairs in a circle with a large square or circular ottoman in the middle to create comfortable communication pods.  The circle configuration fosters contributions from everyone.

Training:  Try a “U” configuration for training and instruction.  This allows the trainer or presenter to interact with each person in attendance.  To achieve this in a way that is more laid back than traditional school style tables, add some panache and comfort to the equation.  Using our Hayden tables, create a classy look by surrounding them with our Accord Hi-Back Leather Chairs.  The “U” helps to encourage open communication.

Decision Making:  A rectangular set up works best when trying to come to a conclusion or make a decision.  Having everyone facing inward allows conversation to flow back and forth. Use our Mahogany Conference tables and surround them with a comfortable executive chair like the Enterprise chairs. Allowing for comfort and ease in discussion is one of the oldest tricks in the book – and it still works.

Larger Meetings & General Sessions:  Think about meetings and conferences where guests have to sit for many hours.  They may be squirming, uncomfortable and playing on their phones.  One of the easiest ways to increase productivity during long sessions are to use seating that is comfortable and placed for maximum view of the stage, so guests can see and absorb everything that is happening on it.

Theatre seating is often considered the best way to maximize space and is used for conferences where there is not much interaction needed from the audience. Chevron layout is another way for meeting planners to bring people closer together and maximize seating while allowing for more interaction. Let’s take it a step further and think comfort.

large meeting space with beige chairs and blue pillows facing a stage

More and more planners are turning to alternative styles of seating. For a Chik-fil-A session, we used our Chamois and Buckskin stage chairs to create a configuration for VIP seating, which allowed for comfort and kept all eyes on the stage.  Adding in branded pillows and accent tables, the conference took on a fresh and trendy direction.

overhead view of conference hall showing different types of seating

You can mix and match different collections to create an innovative layout for your meeting.  In this configuration for MPISEC, we used their Meeting Forward arrow logo and implemented white lounge sofas and chairs directly in the middle of the ballroom and recreated the meeting logo in an innovative way. For this look, we mixed it up with our Grammercy and Whisper Collections and Empire Chairs.

By considering many different alternatives and laying them out in optimal ways, you can create a more productive learning environment for attendees.  Using new seating options for your meetings can pay dividends in how happy guests are and how well they pay attention. At the end of the day isn’t a valuable return on investment what you want to deliver for your clients?  The way you design your meetings, directly impacts how you inspire guests.  AFR Event Furnishings is ready to help you put together a perfect environment for your next meeting or conference.

After the work is done and it is time to relax, AFR Event Furnishings has some brand-new pieces that will help you create stylish environments to fit the vision and purpose of your evening events. Visit our website at to see our latest arrivals, or call your representative to find out availability and pricing in your area.