Everybody is talking about Meeting Architecture. Seating groups, moving theatre, Catchbox, building your own seats out of cardboard or simply borrowing from your local furniture shop... In this article, we will be going into the benefits of creative design for meeting rooms.
Let’s be honest: We still have very mixed memories of the seating arrangements that seem to still prevail at many congresses and business events. In our imagination, our teachers are walking around the class and we just hope they won’t catch us (doing something or other... ). It brings back memories of our time at university and that oh-so-boring maths lecture.
Using chairs at business events is usually practical at best. Such arrangements are not precisely inspiring and motivating. There’s another way, though.
Before you start thinking about creative seating arrangements, you need to answer some basic questions.
What is particularly important to you? Would you like participants to be able to interact with each other during small breakouts? Is your event more festive or informal? These points have a very strong influence on the seating options. That said, we have the impression that interactive, informal meetings are generally on the rise.
How long do you expect the participants to spend sitting down? How much time will be dedicated to networking breaks? The longer the guests have to sit for, the more comfortable the seating needs to be. Nobody enjoys sitting on a cardboard stool for three hours at a time...
How much space is available? Round tables can be great for interaction, but they also require at least double the space compared to traditional seating in rows.
What logistics are necessary and what is your budget? If chairs have to be delivered, the venue needs to have sufficient delivery and storage capacity.
We all know what classic chairs look like. And they do have their advantages: they can be stacked and interlocked, and they are quickly set up and put away again.
In the Middle East, it is common for the first row at conferences to be equipped with sofas - for VIPs and the ruling family. This can’t necessarily be applied to Central Europe or other destinations, but using sofas easily creates a much more relaxed atmosphere. Since everybody is a VIP at your events, they don’t necessarily have to be in the front row!
Mixed seating concepts with sofas, armchairs, and bar tables in the background provide a creative working atmosphere. You can often buy unusual types of seating locally. Donating the seating you bought to a charity after the event also doesn’t necessarily mean higher costs than hiring it. And it’s even good for publicity.
What also works well: Foldable cardboard stools that your guests have to assemble themselves before being able sit down. The perfect IKEA DIY sort of feeling right at the start of the event!
Flexible walls, perhaps even walls that are magnetic or can be written on, support the New Work principles. Surprise your participants with changing room layouts – from plenary sessions via smaller breakouts to separate communication zones.
Moving Theatre concepts are also exciting. Platforms move around the room and – with the help of light and sound effects – create constantly changing environments. This helps the participants to adopt new points of view and to leave their comfort zone.
People often have the best ideas while they are going for a stroll – at least it has been scientifically proven that exercise promotes creativity. Therefore, be sure to include movement zones in the course and structure of the event.
These might be, for example, experimental zones in which the participants can try out products or services. Or they might be hanging chairs that move upwards – as were used at IMEX 2018 in Frankfurt.
Why does a hostess actually always have to carry the microphone around the room when you get to the Q&A part? Using the Catchbox, a throwable microphone, will make any Q&A session more dynamic.
Reinventing the wheel – the saying applies just as much to chairs! Try to achieve a creative, relaxed atmosphere at your events with new, varied seating options. It doesn't cost the earth, but the effects are fantastic. We will be happy to advise you and to give you tips on how to implement such innovative concepts at low cost. We can also recommend local event agencies, DMCs and PCOs that are familiar with this topic and have staged creative events already.