We speakers love our hotel partners; with one exception. We can't say the same about the guy who sets up the chairs. Time and again, the conference room is set up the same. Huuuuuuuuge middle aisle. Laser beam straight rows. An acre of property between the front row and the stage. Before your speaker even hits the stage, the energy in the room is compromised.
The opposite end of the room set-up spectrum is a case in point for amplifying energy at your event. If you have ever been to a stand-up comedy club you know what they do. They cram seats together in a seemly chaotic mish-mash of table and seat angles. The front row guests literally bump their knees up to the stage. The stage is surrounded on three sides with seats. Back seats are not opened up until the remaining attendees filter in. Before the stand-up commedian hits the stage, there is a buzz in the room.
At a corporate conference, there is a nice balance between the picture above and the randomness of a comedy club. The bottom line is this: Make sure you are dedicted to building energy in the room before hand. This starts with the seating arrangement.
There is no exact seating design that works for every room, but generally follow these three rules.
1. Eliminate the Center Aisle - Give your presenters a fighting chance by filling THE most important real estate in the room with humans, not dead air. You can easily add two rows on either side of the center. Boom! Problem solved.
2. Apply the Tiny Ten - Ten feet is all a speaker needs to have a relatively good rapport with the front row. It helps if you fill those seats. Have you ever noticed, when the seats are free, such as church and conferences, the back rows fill up first. When the seats cost money, the front row is coveted. Help your speaker fill the front first. A tiny, ten feet will be a boost to the energy exchange between audience and speaker.
3. Use the 114 Degree Rule - Amp the energy in a room by ensuring everyone has a peripheral view of their seat mates. As you are looking at this screen, broaden your gaze to your peripheral vision. You have a visual awareness of approximatelly a third of 360 degrees. If someone was sitting directly beside you you could not see their face. If they were within a 114 degree scope of your vision, their expressions zoom into your awareness. Bring each of the chairs within peripheral view of each other and you added another layer of energetic buzz to your room.
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