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Creative Seating for Productive Meetings

April 27, 2017

Determined to give a fresh vibe to your next conference? One that will create excitement, inspire ideas and encourage collaboration? Forget the chachkies and rely instead on seating arrangements to set the tone for your entire conference. Meeting planners who turn to creative seating for productive meetings, including eclectic, unusual and comfortable pieces will ensure a dynamic and interactive experience for attendees.

According to management expert and author Leigh Thompson, seating arrangements affect creativity and brainstorming. In her book, Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration, Thompson writes, “Teams that have committed to the creative conspiracy carefully design their meeting spaces to invite and capture ideas.”

Seating arrangements are also crucial in meetings where cooperation and collaboration among attendees is expected. Carol Kinsey Goman, International speaker, author and body language expert considers strategic positioning [in meeting settings] “an effective way to obtain cooperation – and that neglecting this dynamic can inhibit your collaborative goals.”

Transform your next conference into a productive and collaborative event by applying your creativity and the following ideas to make attendees feel comfortable and inspired.

Four creative seating ideas that lead to productive meetings

1.) Physical Comfort

With meetings, conferences or seminars often lasting eight hours or longer, the last thing you want is for attendees to be uncomfortable. You know that look –  the crossing and uncrossing of legs, constant shifting around in the seat, the rocking back and forth in hopes of avoiding threatening back pain. Physical discomfort will lead to distraction, low energy, and even bad moods so make sure to pick comfortable chairs. There’s nothing worse than a low budget chair that looks nice but is hard as rock. Opt for seats with padded backs. Go a step further by choosing chairs with armrests, and if the budget allows consider clusters of lounge furniture. Groupings of small sofas and oversized chairs are not just for events, many companies offer specials on lounge furniture rented over multiple days.

2.) Encourage Socialization

If the event is long, you’ll typically have coffee breaks and food service. Take advantage of those breaks to encourage interaction among participants. For instance, arrange sofas or beanbags around a coffee table. High tables with bar stools are also great for social interaction. You could even go a step further and, if the venue is big enough, place a pool table where attendees can have some fun and relax while interacting.

3.) Innovate Seating Arrangement

To stimulate brainstorming and interaction, seating layout is crucial. Stay away from traditional classroom style seating that gives a sensation of ‘school is in session’, which simply means work!  Instead, create a much more pleasant atmosphere and one where attendees are likely to engage in conversation. Encourage idea sharing by allowing participants actually “meet” establishing eye contact. Try placing seats in a large circle or in several smaller circles. Consider setting chairs in a large “U” shape, or for a twist on the usual, try two semi-circles facing each other.

4.) Incorporate the Outdoors

Opt for meeting spaces that encompass both indoor and outdoor areas. Groups holding meetings in Newport Beach, CA will find several properties with flexible meeting rooms opening to large patios, harborfront balconies or even beachside space. For groups looking to experience the destination during their meetings, Newport Beach offers several private yachts with meeting rooms, open air decks complete with lounge clusters perfect for productive brainstorming sessions, or nature inspired creative outings.

Improve your seating for truly productive meetings

Put yourself in your attendee’s position. Try different chairs, groupings and meeting spaces to see just which arrangement seems to inspire you the most. You may even come up with new ideas that will improve your seating for productive meetings!

Still searching for the ideal location, one with plenty of indoor and outdoor function space? Contact the staff at Visit Newport Beach, the destination marketing organization for Newport Beach, CA. Visit Newport Beach opens the doors to this coastal paradise with destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources that ease the planning process.

Written by Visit Newport Beach Meetings

As a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Visit Newport Beach provides destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources tailored specifically to the needs of meeting planners and their clients.

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