Audience Feeling Like Packed Sardines?

You are now onsite with an event. You walk through the meeting rooms and you realize that your audience feels like packed sardines. What went wrong?

The tables are set and people cannot move without disrupting the entire row. Seems like the chairs are smaller than the normal banquet chair. In addition, there is no room for a person to push their chair back from the table and sit comfortably. The width of the tables is so narrow that the attendees cannot place their laptop along with their notepaper and their lunch on the table. Are you with me?

What Went Wrong?

Do you feel misled by the facility? You were going by the capacities listed in their brochures, their event planning guide and on their website. Take notice to the disclaimer listed adjacent to their room capacity listings. There is a recommendation to allow for a percentage reduction in capacities. This reduction allows for additional space to accommodate items such as, audiovisual equipment, podiums, head tables, or staging.

Planning for Your Audience

Your advance planning process needs to include learning more details about the facility furnishings and conversations with the facility personnel.

When you are conducting a site visit, plan to investigate items that may affect how a meeting room is set:

  • First, consider the sizes of the rectangle tables, round tables, chairs and stages. What furnishings does the facility inventory? Will that inventory be available to your event?
  • Access to storage areas or mechanical equipment spaces can alter your room set. Will facility personnel need access to these areas during your event? Does the fire code require access to the mechanical spaces?
  • Location and size of columns may affect the site line to the stage or front of room as well as the potential room capacity.
  • Often a presenter will like to walk through the audience during their presentation. Consider the presenter’s flow and use of a room.
  • Room lighting is important to consider with a room set. How will the lighting affect the audience’s view of the presenter, the audiovisual presentation and even their own materials?
  • Look at the location of the access door to the room. Is this door located in the front and/or back of the room? Will people sit in an area of the room that when someone enters or exits the room they are obstructing the audiences view of the presenter?
  • With the common use of laptops at meetings today, is there access to electric connections in a room. If you are planning for a session that requires use of laptop computers as part of the session, make sure that the electrical wiring capabilities in a room are sufficient to handle your needs. If not ask for suggestions for alternative rooms.
  • Today, presenter’s require Internet access. Understand what level of Internet access your presenter will need during his/her presentation. Will your audience need Internet access in order to participate in a given session?
  • Placement of audiovisual equipment is often the success or failure of an event. Try to visualize the placement of this equipment as you determine the layout of the meeting room.
  • Finally, the placement of food and beverage stations is often based on the time allotted to a break or meal. Do you need to allot space in the meeting room for these stations? Are the stations single or double sided? How many stations?

While the destination may be the perfect location for your event, you need to take the time in advance to compare your needs to the product a facility offers. Hence, this will afford you the opportunity to produce a successful event for your audience.

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