The psychology behind your meeting room’s layout

Every meeting has a different agenda. Maybe you want your invitees to think outside the box, perhaps you need them to focus and learn from your speaker, or is your meeting more about interacting and networking with peers? The list of options is long and varied. As an organiser it’s your job to bring together the right people and set an engaging schedule, but you’re also responsible for creating an environment conducive to your goals. This is, in part, down to the way you layout your meeting room.

At W12 Conferences we have a range of flexible spaces which we can set-up in numerous layout options. Our experienced event management team is well-practiced in creating the perfect space for organisers whatever their meeting’s objectives. We’ve put our heads together to give you some insight into the decisions we make so you can get the most out of the attendees at your next event.


Description: One long table with chairs running down either side with a single chair at both ends.

A boardroom layout gives one or two people authority over a meeting. Placing you Chair and Deputy at either end of the table means your attendees will feel in the thick of the action with no room for anyone wanting to shy away from participating. Your delegates are facing each other and shoulder to shoulder which is a great way to encourage interaction and a level playing field. This set up demands a large amount of eye contact which will produce high levels of engagement.


Description: The speaker usually stands in the open end of the U and chairs are only used on the outside of the curve.

This layout makes it clear to all attendees that one person is leading the meeting. Said speaker is likely to stand during their session which gives them an immediate, physical air of authority. They are also free to move into the cavity of the tables and chairs to help engage their listeners. This movement also gives the speaker command of the whole room. 


Description: Round tables, half filled with chairs all pointing towards a central point at one end of the room.
Grouping small numbers of attendees together can create camaraderie and competition between delegates. However, as the layout doesn’t particularly encourage interaction (unless you happen to be in the middle of the horse shoe on your table) this room layout tends to produce more of a listening-only environment – think speeches and lectures.


Description: Rows of chairs pointing towards one wall or stage at the end of the room.

In this layout, all attendees should feel on an equal footing and potentially more anonymous than in other room set ups. Speakers can take on a very authoritative role in this environment, particularly if there is a stage and lighting involved, and interacting with their audience may take a little more effort because of this.


Description: Circular tables with attendees seated all the way round the outside of the shape.

This layout is all about collaboration within a clique. With chairs facing inwards (with no obvious focal point outside of the individual tables) the speaker at this sort of a meeting takes on the role of facilitator, rather than expert or authority. Power around each table is equally spread and attendees having their backs to other groups of delegates could create a sense of competition.

Other considerations

Breathing room: Cramming your attendees in so they feel squashed could make them anxious, under valued and less likely to engage with your speakers. Sparsely populated meeting rooms could also create unease as individuals may feel exposed and vulnerable.
Refreshments: Do you want your attendees to knuckle down and get business done, or to relax in order to let their creative juices flow? Sometimes keeping tea and biscuits until after you’ve got through a few points on your agenda is no bad thing.
No frills or all the trimmings: Some organisers want to impress, show off their standing and spoil their guests, others place a higher value on displaying frugality and efficiency. What do you want your venue, decor and catering to say about you?

Meetings at W12 Conferences

Whether you’re hosting a meeting for a handful of senior staff or an AGM for your entire company, we’ll have an event space to suit your needs. Our event team can talk you through all of the layout options and between us, we can decide what will best fit your delegates and goals. To start the ball rolling for your next London meeting or conference, give us a call on +44 (0)20 3313 1606.