How to Choose the Best Conference Room Setup Style

At first blush, it may not seem like your conference room’s setup has any effect on your event. Many treat it as an afterthought. However, your conference room setup style plays a big part in reaching your goals. It can impact the speaker’s effectiveness as well as your employees’ engagement levels.

Each layout has its purpose. For example, some facilitate passive learning, whereas others may encourage group discussion and collaboration. To maximize your event, your setup, equipment included, must cater to your attendee’s needs.

In the following sections, we dive into why your conference room setup style is vital and share six of the most common styles to choose from.


Quick Jump

  1. Understand Your Conference
  2. Boardroom Style
  3. U-Shaped Style
  4. Hollow Square Style
  5. Banquet Style
  6. Auditorium/Theater Style
  7. Chevron


First: Understand Your Conference

Not all conferences are the same, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. The seating arrangement you choose directly influences a conference’s success, the way the speaker is received, and how involved your audience is. Before you begin choosing the setup for your next meeting, you first need to define what kind of event you’re hosting and consider the following:


How many attendees can you expect? This number is crucial. The wrong setup can leave your attendees feeling crowded or have them struggling to communicate with those around them. Some setup styles, like boardroom or chevron, are better suited for larger groups.


Will there be group interaction? You want your presenters to be able to communicate and interact with all participants effectively. Styles such as the u-shape or banquet are ideal for encouraging conversation and brainstorming.


Does your meeting need video conferencing or local presentation/collaboration capabilities? If so, you need a layout that allows everyone to easily see and be seen. If you need collaboration or video conferencing functionality, Applied Global Technologies is more than happy to assist with system design and implementation. Contact our team, for more information.


Where is your outlet? This information you need to know upfront, as the location of your outlets can determine how you set up your conference room and even what style you opt for.


boardroom style

Boardroom Style

This conference room setup style is perhaps the most well-known of any layout on our list. It has been featured in countless movies and sitcoms and is also the default layout for most conference rooms. The boardroom style features a rectangular or oval table with seats on all sides. This layout can accommodate up to 25 people and is ideal for agenda-focused meetings or video conferencing that involve open discussion.

If you have a larger group, you can join two tables to maintain face-to-face interaction. A few examples of meetings that work best in this setting are committee meetings, board of director meetings, team briefings, and interviews.


U-shaped conference setup style
Photo Credit: AMA Conferences


U-Shape Style

After the boardroom style, the U-shaped setup is most popular. As its name suggests, this style consists of a series of tables positioned end-to-end in a “u” shape. For the attendants, this setup is inviting, as it mimics a classroom setting, encouraging note-taking, conversation with neighbors, and participation in interactive learning settings.

The chairs are placed on the table’s outer sides to give the speaker room to interact with each person while they present. The U-shape is most suitable for training sessions, video conferencing, and presentations with multiple speakers. To achieve the best results, use this conference room setup style for small, annual meetings and workshops with a group of 25 or fewer.


Hollow square conference room style
Photo Credit: Equatorial Hotel Ho Chi Minh City


Hollow Square

Also known as the “closed u” style, the hollow square setup mimics the u-shaped design, requiring four tables in a rectangle, square, or other multi-designed shapes. It is ideal for breakout sessions that consist of smaller groups or those that incorporate problem-solving tasks.

What makes this one of the best conference room setup styles is that it inspires easy communication and interaction between team members. With this setup, the presenter can freely roam inside the square, directing attention toward them and interacting with each employee. This creates a more intimate experience where the audience is more likely to engage with the speaker.


Banquet style conference room setup style
Photo Credit: The Academy Hotel


Banquet Style

If you plan to host a large conference that includes entertainment and seated dining, then a banquet style is the best conference room setup style for you. Although the first thing that comes to mind is an award show, banquet-style seating is also used for team-building activities and networking events. The layout calls for long rows of tables that are placed parallel to one another. Sometimes it also includes a panel of presenters or honorees seated at a perpendicular table at the helm.

Alternatively, a banquet-style setup can also consist of a series of round tables that seat between eight and 12 guests. Unlike its rectangular tabled sibling, this version allows those in attendance to converse with one another without straining their necks and makes it easier for waitstaff to serve food.


Auditorium style seating
Photo Credit: Marquette University

Auditorium/Theatre Style

This simple setup is synonymous with the idea of a classic conference: rows of chairs facing the front of the room, parted by a single row, and accented with a stage at the front of the room for the speaker. We are most familiar with this style in TED Talks and Apple presentations.

If your symposium doesn’t require much note-taking but commands all focus to be on the presenter, then consider this conference room setup style. It is perfect for one-way knowledge-sharing and passive learning environments such as mass meetings, annual general meetings, product launches, and audio-visual events.


chevron style conference room setup
Photo Credit: Viola Zhou


Chevron Style

If you’ve ever been in a classroom, chances are, you’re familiar with this layout. The chevron style is an updated take on the traditional classroom setup and remedies issues where only some employees can see the presenter. Instead of multiple rows of straight, parallel tables, this version features tables and chairs that are angled, maximizing seating capacity.

This also allows for a better line of vision and engagement between recipients and the speaker. There is ample space to take notes and comfortably use any appropriate devices. Because of this, it is the optimal conference room setup style for large or small instructive learning settings, including training sessions and workshops.



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