There’s far more to meeting room design than beanbags and flipcharts. If you want to run a successful and effective meeting, a creatively designed meeting space is key. Meeting room layouts need to spark creativity and inspire attendees. In fact, 77% of venues now offer creative meetings spaces to assist with experience creation. We’ve put together a list of our top ten meeting room layouts that will engage your delegates and fuel their imagination.
Learn how to plan a meeting successfully and create the wow factor.
Why meeting room layouts are important
According to the 2018 IACC Meeting Room of the Future report, “investing time and money in the design of the space to support the wellbeing of participants has the ability to turn a cost into a strategic investment that has the power to transform behaviors, cultures and companies.”
Mike Van der Vijver, meeting designer and Managing Partner of MindMeeting, stresses the importance of strategic meeting space design:
“Firstly, there has to be a ‘why’ for what you’re doing. If there’s no real reason, then the meeting shouldn’t happen in that format. There shouldn’t be any random introductions of formats or design elements. These often prove disruptive for no real reason”.
The early stages of collaboration between meeting planner and designer are critical and help to facilitate optimum outcomes.
Ames Boston Hotel - Benchmark Conference Centers
We interviewed leading meeting designers to find out how to design the perfect meeting room layout. Here are their tips:
- Ask your clients how they’d like the meeting to look. How do they want their guests to feel when they attend?
- Test out different meeting room design formats. Get feedback from your guests and use this knowledge for future events.
- Make sure everyone involved in the event is comfortable with the format you propose as it encourages their engagement.
Jessie States, Head of Meeting Innovation at Meeting Professionals International, highlights: "We've experimented with dozens of different formats to varying degrees of success. From fishbowls and mini lectures to speed geeking, spectrograms and story slams, the greatest predictors of success were ensuring that our facilitators, speakers and participants were comfortable with the format and came prepared to engage."
Our Top 9 Meeting Room Layout Styles
1. Turn the Tables on Tradition
Dianne Devitt, event architect and author of "What Color is Your Event" stresses that “the seating layout is a critical design choice, affecting much more than seating capacity.” An example:
Devitt highlights a common design flaw in this layout (Figure A). It sees tables set up parallel to the room’s walls. This design blocks the flow of energy and discourages participation and engagement.
Devitt’s recommended layout (Figure B). The design shows tables set at a 45 degree angle. This layout offers instant visual and spatial interest, and supports energy flow within the room.
Concept as featured in "What Color is Your Event?" by Dianne Devitt
“Design choices always affect how the flow of movement, energy and attention in the room - affecting the ability of your participants to engage with the space you have designed, and, by extension, the message,” said Devitt, of DND Group.
2. Seasonal Design
Uni from Sandler Seating's Metalmobil collection
This simply designed creative outside meeting space is ideal for a quirky breakout or networking session. The autumnal theme invites delegates to take inspiration from the season’s natural wonders and re-energise.
3. Scandi Minimalism
Central Park conference room at IACC member venue - Sigtunahöjden hotel and conference center
We all know that an uncluttered and spacious environment helps increase productivity and peoples’ physical wellbeing. This sleek layout takes inspiration from Scandinavian minimalism and focuses on the “less is more” approach.
4. Bring the Outdoors In
Image and room design - dndgroup.com
Bringing greenery into workspaces is proven to help increase people’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Take note from the ever-evolving trend for “living walls” within office spaces. Amazon employees can even work in a treehouse!
This innovative layout by DND Group features an abundance of natural light and foliage designed to inspire and motivate delegates. The design proved so successful that the venue requested the layout remain in place post-event.
Designing an al-fresco style setting helps increase productivity and creativity
5. Make a Statement
Dunas XS and Dunas XL from Sandler Seating's InClass collection
This grand meeting room breaks away from tradition with its impressive facade and sophisticated, stately look. The bi-fold doors allow natural light to flood the room. Beneficial, not just aesthetically, but it also helps increase productivity, improves mood and has proven long-term health benefits. The absence of fixed structures allows the space to be flexible and easily re-configured, depending on the meeting requirements.
6. A Taste of the Tropics
A unique experiential meeting space injected with a slice of paradise, designed to stir creativity. The unique, uncluttered layout features tropical influences and the calming effect of water.
7. Experiment with Colour
Another Mind-Meeting meeting room design solution sees attendees asked colour-coded questions by the meeting’s moderator. Delegates are then asked to stand in one of the room’s four corners branded with coloured chairs.
This layout aids engagement and provides an experiential experience, as it involves delegates participating both mentally and physically.
Ellen Sinclair of the award-winning Benchmark Hotels and Meetings group highlights that movement in both sessions and throughout the day is proven to increase participant engagement, which can help provide a higher ROI to meeting owners.
8. Room with a View
IACC member venue - The Globe and Mail Centre
A spectacular city skyline view designed to uplift and inspire. Meeting attendees are provided with a true taste of their location.
It’s key that the room’s backdrop aligns to the meeting’s desired tone. Dramatic - think impressive city view. Motivational - think green spaces and nature.
IACC member venue - Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
9. Quirky Seating Ideas
River Stone from Sandler Seating's Tonon collection
IACC’s 2018 Meeting Room of the Future Report states:
“60% of operators feel that the flexibility of meeting spaces will become more important over time. Suppliers named flexible, ‘non-traditional’ meeting room furniture as one of the biggest trends in meeting space development and design over the past three years.”
Breakaway from tradition with striking and quirky furniture. Venues are increasingly requiring room elements that are not aesthetically appealing, but also highly durable and suitable for both inside and outside use.
Riverside from Sandler Seating's Tonon collection
Meeting modern meeting needs
The 2018 IACC Meeting Room of the Future Report highlights the increased demand for lounge-style seating, as attention on people’s comfort continues to increase. These soft-touch, space-age inspired seats are guaranteed to provide the wow factor and would make a bold statement in any breakout area or meeting space.
These innovative and inspiring meeting space design ideas help provide a different view of how learning can happen. As Van der Vijver states:
“Classroom style is medieval.”