How to Get Your Event Room Layout Right to Achieve Your Goals

event room layout1

An important consideration for venue selection is the layout of the individual rooms and seating arrangements for your attendees and event. Different layouts really can make the difference to your overall event objectives and success.

In this latest newsletter, I have outlined some of the most popular layout styles and their suitability for different types of events, to help you make the right choice.

Venues have a maximum number of people that they can allow in a room in each layout style. This information is usually available on their web sites. It is worth remembering that these maximum numbers are dictated by health & safety officials and are a hard upper limit that cannot be exceeded.

However, optimum comfort levels are usually considerably below these limits. No one likes to be seated at the leg of a table or to be continually bumped into by waiting staff or other attendees every time someone moves.

A good rule of thumb is to consider comfort levels at 10% to 15% lower than the maximum numbers per layout. Equally, if you require additional staging, AV or other additional requirements that require space then you also need to plan for these and adjust layout and attendee numbers accordingly.

A good venue-finding agency will liaise with the venue and their operations teams to help you plan this and get it right.

Here is an overview of the most popular room layout styles.


Rows of chairs facing towards a stage or central point at the front of a room. Theatre style is usually the layout that allows for the largest number of attendees in a seated environment. Popular for formal presentations, conferences and events with lots of speakers but not great for attendee interaction.


Similar to theatre layout but tables in each row allowing attendees to comfortably take notes, work on a PC and also have access to refreshments. This layout style is often popular with training courses, workshops and more interactive seminars.


A series of round tables to seat groups with everyone facing the table centre. Usually between 8 to 14 people on each, depending upon table size. Mostly used for formal or gala dinners and lunches or events with seating plans.

Comfort, however, can be restricted in this layout if attendees are required to turn to face a speaker or central point for an extended period.


Similar to banquet layout but with an open end so that attendees are facing forward to allow clear line of sight to a speaker or presentation area. Often lend themselves to a less formal and more interactive environment and popular for conferences, training events, workshops, breakout sessions and awards shows.

It’s worth noting that cabaret is the most restrictive layout for attendee numbers. If you are unsure of your required layout or final numbers when searching for venues, then it is wise to request a cabaret layout for the top of your range of delegate numbers. That way you can be confident that the venue and individual room can accommodate you group in different layouts.

U Shape

Tables and chairs in a layout similar to the letter U with and an open end for a speaker and central point, and the audience facing inwards. Popular for small and medium sized groups for meetings, presentations and training sessions. U shape allows speakers to easily move to and interact with all attendees.


A single large table, often rectangular or oval shaped, with all attendees sitting around it and facing inwards. Venues often have some smaller rooms with fixed boardroom layout and superior furnishings to maximise comfort. Popular for smaller and/or high profile meetings, brainstorms, breakout sessions and dinners. 

Cocktail/ Reception

Not a seated layout this is a standing environment with or without poseur tables. Popular for events of a short duration, drinks receptions and networking sessions.


Of course, there are many other different layouts and combinations of layouts that are available, these are just some of the most popular. When hiring a venue and a room it is up to you how you utilise the space for your event – within reason and under any restrictions the venue may have.

Rooms can be completely transformed with the assistance of creative production and AV to create many different themed environments. For these types of events it is always worth involving your production teams early in the venue selection process.

Happy planning.