Your choice of meeting room setup has agreat deal of impact on the dynamics of the meeting and can help to achieve your desired objectives. There are many possible meeting room setups. Here are five of the most commonly used configurations:

* Theater/Auditorium-style setups have chairs set in rows facing the speaker, the stage, or the front of the room. This setup accommodates a maximum number of people and works well for any size group. While conventional theater-style setups have seating in rows, variations on this theme include both semicircular and V-shaped (called chevron) configurations.

* Discussion seating, with round tables that seat from eight to 10 persons (conventionally used for banquet seating), are becoming increasingly popular for networking sessions and small discussion groups.

* Conference-style setups seat attendees around a rectangular table usually located in the middle of the room. This setup encourages interaction because attendees face each other. It is most useful for meetings of 20 people or fewer.

* Square setups, where draped rectangular tables are placed together to create a square, can be U-shaped or a hollow square. This configuration also allows for dialogue and works well for meetings of 32 people or fewer.

* Classroom-style setups are the same as conventional theater-style setups, with the addition of narrow, draped tables in front of the chairs, which are used as writing surfaces. This setup is often used for large or lengthy seminars.

If you haven't done a site inspection of your meeting facility before you've booked, do so immediately upon arrival, at least a day before the meeting. Be sure to ask the crew responsible for the set-up to be there and go over what is needed. Get a commitment as to exactly when the room will be set up for your event, and let them know you'll need to see the room fully set up prior to the meeting.You want to see it the evening before so any changes that are needed can be accomplished.

* Room Size While it's not always possible to know attendance numbers, it's a mistake to have just a few people in a large room. A fully packed room generates audience excitement and interest. A feeling of anticipation builds as the room fills.

A half-empty room gives the impression that the meeting is a loser and everyone else must know it, otherwise, why are so many seats empty? These rooms are often called "death valley," because they are depressing not only to the participants but to the speaker.

When people feel isolated, with lots of empty seats scattered around them, they become very self-conscious about participating in the meeting. Even laughing is squelched. Large, half-filled rooms also discourage networking, because attendees feel inhibited. On the other hand, when people sit close together they feel "safety in numbers" and will enjoy themselves much more.

* Chair Control Never allow the facility to leave stacks of empty chairs in the room. People will grab one and sit where they please. It's best to have the room set with the minimum number. When more attendees arrive, then someone can provide an extra chair and set it up where people become part of the audience.