Tip: If possible, set up the room so that entrances are along the rear of the seating area, and along the back and sides of the room. This will minimize disruptions by latecomers and people who have to leave.
Tip: The ideal seating row width for optimal viewing is no more than the distance from the first row of seats to the screen. This isn't always possible, but if it is, this will present the best viewing angle for the audience.
Tip: When choosing function rooms, space requirements are not just seating of guests, keep in mind some of the following:
- AV and rear screen requirements and distances.
- Room obstructions — pillars, balconies, large, low-hanging chandeliers.
- Traffic flow — restroom accessibility, proximity to coffee break areas.
- External noise
- Lighting controls — Do they have a remote lighting console? Can the lights in your area be controlled separately from other sections of the room that you aren't using? Are lights dimmable?
Schoolroom or Classroom Style
This seating consists of rows of tables with chairs. Tables are usually 18 inches in depth and either 6ft. or 8ft. in width. Allow at least 3.5 feet between rows of tables. The front row of tables should be at least 6 ft. from the stage or screen, or 2 times the vertical height of the screen, whichever is greater.
Recommended Seating: 2 people at a 6ft. classroom table, 3 people at an 8 ft. classroom table. This can be increased but does limit the ability of people to move and use the available space.
Pro: This allows people room to take notes, and look at distributed materials.
Con: Inhibits interaction with other participants or presenters on stage.
Banquet Rounds Style
Most commonly used for food functions. This format used 5 ft. or 6 ft. diameter round tables in the U.S. A minimum of 5 ft. between tables will ensure enough seating room, plus room for meal servers and allow award recipients room to move to the stage, etc.
Recommended Seating: 8 people at a 5 ft. round, 10 people at a 6ft. round.
Pro: Allows a great deal of interaction, great for meal functions.
Con: Difficult for some people to see the screen and stage presentations, as they must turn around in their chairs. Takes up more space in function room than most other seating styles.
Theater or Auditorium Style
The chairs are set next to each other in rows, without tables in front of them. Most standard ballroom or function room chairs are 19.5 inches to 20 inches wide. Allow 2 ft. for each chair left to right, and allow 3 ft. from the back of one row to the ack of the next row of chairs.
Pro: Maximizes the number of attendees in a function room, and allows for interaction between attendees.
Con: Not ideal for taking notes.
Aisles and Number of Seats Per Row
Fire regulations in each city will determine the number of people allowed in each row, the amount of aisle space and the number of rows allowed in each seating section.
General rule of thumb: 15 to 20 people per row in Auditorium style seating. No more than 24 ft. of tables in Classroom style seating. 10 to 15 rows before breaking for a "horizontal" aisle and beginning another section of seats.
You can normally allow 4 to 6 ft. in any center aisles and at least 4 ft. for aisles at the walls of the function room. Allow 6 ft to 8 ft. for breaks between sections of seating rows. In facilities such as convention centers where large audiences are the norm, center aisles are at least 8 ft. wide and 8 ft. to 10 ft. of aisle space for the break in seating sections will be needed. Even if you have a small function room in one of these centers with a small audience, the same fire regulations may apply.
Always check with the facility on what local regulations are. They may even change depending on the seating style you pick. A good rule of thumb is always leave 4 ft. at the sides of the rooms and at least 5 ft. for center aisles.
|Seating Style||Min. Sq. Ft. Per Person|
|Theater||6 square feet plus aisles|
|Schoolroom||9 to 12 square feet plus aisles|
|Banquet||12 to 14 square feet plus aisles|