How Are Your Guests Seated at the Event?
Are your attendees picking seats on a first-come-first-serve basis? If yes, you need to redefine your seating charts strategically to initiate networking.
You have to consider the different personalities visiting the event for event seating. For example, imagine you are visualizing an event for a marketing company whose purpose is to meet luxury advertisers. In that case, you have to ensure marketers are carefully surrounded by advertisers left and right to promote cross-border and diverse conversations. The key is to make Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) of the attendees and share them with your prospects to know their preference on 'Who sits Where.'
However, having a pre-decided seating chart can also lead to favoritism or competition. So, unless you want a speaker to share a standard message across the table, allow guests to choose their seats. Often a banquet-style seating works best for networking dinners where round tables are spread out evenly to accommodate 8-12 people per table. Even Cabaret-style seating can work for cocktail networking sessions where presentations or performances are visible to the attendees.
Physically sitting next to someone can make you feel more emotionally connected to them. (Research by Cornell)
Curate Conversation-Starting Décor
When it comes to event décor, there is only one piece of advice – Go Creative
! Even everyday activities like drinking water or coffee can be made fun with thought-provoking décor ideas in an intimate setting. For instance, you can use different colored cups to play a game with the attendees. Red color could indicate you want to start a conversation, green could indicate you wish to exchange ideas, blue could indicate you want to listen to new opinions, and pink could indicate you wish to partner for business. Similarly, while setting the table for lunch/dinner, you can use table mats for exciting activities. For example, ThinkFun, a toy and boardgames company based in the US, asked its customers to fold the mats and solve a puzzle. Actions like these make for good décor and, at the same time, can put attendees at ease to spark engaging conversations with others.
Another vital highlight to remember while planning an event design for an intimate networking gathering is not to use big centerpieces that hinder audiences’ field of vision. For example, while setting up a table, ensure that the seating is not overcrowded. Set an overall event theme and establish conversation pieces, banners, lights and backgrounds that relay your brand messaging and the event's objective. Try incorporating décor elements and your event’s theme into all your attendee touchpoints like invitations, networking, personalization and lunch/dinner.
At today's events, attendees are simply looking to foster meaningful relationships with stakeholders. But, the task of face-to-face networking is challenging for some attendees due to being behind a computer screen excessively since a long time. As an event organizer, you can –
Filter your guest list by including people with similar interests
Host small gatherings/dinners
Use strategic seating patterns to facilitate conversations
Instill décor that can put attendees at ease and spark productivity
Make sure your events are where attendees strike meaningful conversations and partnerships to propel disruption, innovation and transformation.