Which meeting set-up works best for your Chicago event?

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Photo: Chicago History Museum

Discover Your Best Meeting Set Up

Don't overlook this important part of the planning process. With and endless array of flexible meeting spaces, Chicago lets you set up your meeting in a variety of ways. Which of these five popular set ups works best for your event?


The Set Up: A conference table in the center of the room, surrounded by chairs

Good For: Small groups; brainstorming sessions; group discussions; Board of Director meetings

Advantages: Large workspace; easy attendee interaction

Disadvantages: Not ideal for large groups; not ideal for speakers/presenters

Set-Up Hint: Cluster several conference tables together to create a larger workspace — just remember that larger surfaces keep attendees farther away from each other.

U Shape

The Set Up: Conference tables arranged in the shape of a 'U,' with chairs around the outside

Good For: Small, interactive meetings

Advantages: Easily accommodates a presenter and/or AV presentations; good for attendee-presenter interaction and attendee-presenter interaction

Disadvantages: Not ideal for large groups

Set-Up Hint: Keep attendee number under 25, otherwise the sides of the 'U' may become too long to allow for easy group interaction.


The Set Up: Auditorium style where rows of chairs face a stage or podium

Good For: Large groups; organizing to a presentation; general sessions; short meetings

Advantages: Can seat a lot of people without taking up a lot of space

Disadvantages: Doesn't allow for easy note-taking or networking; not ideal for events with food

Set-Up Hint: If you have flexibility with the chair arrangement, offset each row so all attendees can see the presenter.


The Set Up: Long rows of tables, facing the front of the room, with several chairs at each

Good For: Long sessions; informal lectures; meetings requiring many handouts or materials

Advantages: Allows for easy note-taking and attendee-presenter interaction

Disadvantages: Not ideal for attendee-attendee interaction

Set-Up Hint: As a general rule, plan for two feet of space per person at each table.


The Set Up: Round tables with eight to 12 chairs around each

Good For: Large groups; break-out sessions; dinners and food-focused functions

Advantages: Encourages small group discussions

Disadvantages: Doesn't encourage interaction between tables; takes up a lot of space

Set-Up Hint: If there will be a presenter, arrange the tables so that chairs only go around half of each table, with all of the open sections facing the presenter.

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