Seating styles for dinners, discussions, lectures and meetings are vastly different. Some banquet seating styles are more conducive to talking and sharing with your neighbor, while others discourage small talk to focus more on a lesson or large group discussion. Before setting up your tables, decide what you need for your guests.

Banquet Style

The banquet style is the most commonly seen seating style at formal events when meals are served. It consists of a round table with six to 10 people sitting around it. You can set these tables up around a room in rows or randomly. The most important thing to remember when setting up this seating style is to not crowd too many people around a table. Guests need room to move their arms.

U Shape or Hollow Square

A U shape is ideal for a conference or meeting with about two dozen people. Place long tables in a U shape and arrange the chairs along the outside of the tables. This allows all the guests to see any type of presentation going on, but gives them each a table on which to set any materials or meals.

A very similar arrangement is a hollow-square table setup. Create a U shape and add more tables to close it off at one end. This setup facilitates discussion rather than a presentation. Again, it allows the guests room on the table for their personal items.

Conference Style

A conference style is best for smaller groups of less than two dozen. Set up tables in a large rectangle to create one larger table for guests to sit around. If you like this style, but have more than 20 or 24 people, arrange several conference tables in the room. This creates several family-style tables allowing greater interaction between more people than a typical round banquet table.

Classroom Style

If you are leading a class or lecture and want to have more smaller tables, introduce a classroom style of seating. Set up several groups of one or two tables. You should be able to fit between four and six people at each table arrangement. You can keep the tables straight on, or angle them towards the front of the room. Be sure not to crowd too many people at the tables, as they may have notes or other personal material.