How to Arrange Tables to Maximize Your Meeting Space

Need to optimize space? Try a square table setup


Recently, several facilities have been featuring square table setups for meal functions, with seating for eight. These near-square, or square table sets are more functional than six-foot rounds. And most facilities have, or can configure, the square table for eight. For some it will mean putting together two, separately draped six-foot-by-three-foot tables; others will join two six-foot-by-30-inch tables. Both serve our purposes. 

The Square Table Set for Meals and Discussion
The setup illustrated above involves two rectangular tables, separately draped for quick setup and separation. During the meal function each table easily accommodates two participants on each side. It is simple for everyone at the table to engage in conversation because all participants are an equal distance from one another; there is a reduced dead space compared with rounds as the “donut hole” that distances participants from the presentation and from one another is eliminated. This setup also means there is less need, concern, or relevance for a centerpiece. And the shape of the table allows for more open flow of traffic for the serving crew. 

Build a Teepee
Once the program begins, check that no items are directly over the divide in the tables. Separate the tables on the side toward the presentation. The tables open out in a “teepee” configuration. Those seated on the presentation-end of the table then have three options. They can place their chairs facing the presentation at the end of the table, or on either side [see arrows on diagram], taking care not to block the sight-line of table-mates. For discussion following a presentation, put the tables back together.

Angle Management
Do not point the narrow end of the table toward the presentation, as that would line up the two people on the outside, one behind the other. Aim the table slightly to the left corner of the stage or focus of the presentation if you are seated back-right. And aim slightly to the right corner of the focus of the presentation if you are seated back-left.  

The “focus of the presentation” means that area toward which audience attention is drawn. If it is strictly a presenter or panel, then that is the focus. However if there is a screen to the right or left of center, then you would expand the focus to include the range of attention required. 

Paul O. Radde, Ph.D., is a speaker on professional presence, influence, and developing a peaceful core. Radde’s book, Seating Matters: State of the Art Seating Arrangements, is available at