Seating Etiquette 101: Meeting Efficiency

Every business has unique needs and expectations to consider when planning a meeting. Researching and being specific about what you need and expect for every meeting will minimize stress for everyone involved. Remember that the meetings you organize will reflect and build your business brand, leaving a lasting impression. 

Sitting side by side is great positioning for collaboration and brainstorming between two people. Most people gravitate to this position naturally when they are working on the same project. Depending on your level of comfort prior to the meeting there might be a feeling of discomfort or invasion of personal space because of the close proximity of the parties at the table. A circular table is the best when collaboration and respect is needed at the meeting. However, the bigger the circle, the less effective the collaboration becomes.

We’ve all experienced the tense atmosphere that sitting directly opposite someone (or in a competitive position) can create. In an office setting it can be used to establish a superior-subordinate role. The power position is at the head of the table. Everyone in the meeting can see you. From this seat you can best facilitate the flow of the meeting.

Sitting in the power position doesn’t mean you have the biggest ego. As Chair, you need to keep the agenda moving, keep the meeting focused and throw in some jokes to keep everyone’s attention sharp. The meeting gets sloppy when there is no clear Chair. Some facilitators choose to have no seat available at the opposite end of the table, placing the meeting attendees on the sides of the table instead.

Another aspect of seating etiquette for meetings is the placement of your attendees. Consider if you should organize a seating protocol for meetings in advance or leave it up to the attendees. Ready Set! Offices understands this and provides a great deal of flexibility and amenities with our meeting rooms. Seating arrangements can psychologically influence your overall meeting effectiveness. Consider a hierarchical seating protocol for meetings; which positions attendees in order of descending authority, starting with the meeting chairperson who’s seated at the head of the table. Classically the seat to the right of the Chair is the spot for the second in command. The left seat is the spot for the up-and-comer. If none of the attendees have ever met before, it can be helpful to make place cards for everyone. Having water, coffee and catering available helps to break the ice between meeting attendees. Consider having music playing in the background before the meeting to break the silence and encourage conversation. The professionals at ReadySet! Offices strive to provide your business with the meeting room space you need – on your terms. Share with us what you envision for your seating protocol for meetings, and we will be happy to best accommodate your requests.

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