When speaking to clients and booking venues there is always that moment when we need to confirm the conference room layout or the space requirement for the team meeting and subsequent team building session – whatever that may be.
This is just a quick reference guide as to what needs to be considered and the terminology used in order to make your next team offsite event a success and how to make the best use of the space available.
When considering a venue, the first thing to think about is space and the requirement of the presenter(s), the requirements of the audio-visual solution, your chosen team building activity and finally the requirements of your guests. This intelligence will help you and your selected venue ascertain which meeting rooms and events spaces are suitable. There are 8 common room layouts as listed below:
Cabaret style uses more space per guest than any other of the room layouts. Cabaret layout will be a 6 or 7 foot round table with 6 or 7 chairs just to one side of the table facing forward. Cabaret is a good format to use when presenters require guests to make notes and they need to interact with the audience. Guests will have a clear view of the presenter and any materials being shown on the screen in front of them.
Banquet style is similar to Cabaret style but there are simply more chairs evenly placed around the round 6 or 7 foot table. Banquet style is typically used at lunches and dinners, and generally set for 8 to 10 delegates.
Theatre style is as it sounds, as if you were in a theatre or cinema. There will be an equal number of chairs in rows facing the front of the room. A central isle is generally preferable to allow easy access for delegates as well as conforming to fire regulations for evacuation purposes.
Classroom layout again is as it sounds with each delegate having a table in front of them whilst also being in rows. Generally, venues use 6ft long trestle tables are used and accommodate either 2 or 3 (at a push) delegates per table. There are two ways for this to be laid out - either in rows or in a ‘herringbone’ layout which is where the tables are placed at a 35 to 45-degree angle to the front of the room.
‘U’ shape is as it sounds – a set of 6 foot tables set in the shape of the letter ‘U’, with the open end facing the front of the room with the chairs are placed around the outside of the ‘U’. This layout is useful for 18 to 20 guests where a presenter can easily see and engage with the delegates.
Using a large wide table for typically between 12 and 14 delegates. This is often seen as quite adversarial in nature as all guests are essentially facing one another. This layout is not typically used where there is a presenter and is often in used in smaller meeting spaces.
Similar to ‘Boardroom’ the tables are arranged in a square (or rectangle) leaving the centre open. The chairs are then placed around the outside. This format can be used for up to 20 guests though some consideration should be given to guests hearing one another. Again, this layout is not typically used where there is a presenter.
Cocktail layout implies that a few taller cocktail tables are scattered in the room. This style is recommended for evening pre dinner drinks or light social sessions where mingling, light chat and networking is the aim. A few chairs can liberally be placed around the outer edges of the room, but the primary function of this layout is to keep guests standing and chatting in an informal way.
Which is the best layout for an indoor team building activity?
Most indoor team building activities require a reasonable amount of space. EML always adapts its formats to each space but to give us a fighting chance the best layout for a team build is to ask for cabaret. Cabaret provides tables to sit around and undertake team activities and the tables can be cleared away at lunch time providing a space for a team game. As a rule of thumb if you have a group of 30 ask for a room rated to cabaret for 60 – this will allow you to conduct a meeting without feeling lost in a cavernous room and provide ample floor space for an indoor team build.
I’m still not sure which layout / venue will be best for me?
Don’t worry! When you book a team building activity or training programme with EML our consultants will provide you with a free venue searching service. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org / +44(0)1905 330660 and we’ll sort this for you.