by Jonathan Vatner | April 01, 2007

Pod setup at the Inverness


Right angles:
Seating pods
at the Inverness

Some parts of Meeting Planning 101 haven’t changed since time immemorial, especially regarding room setups. Right?

Not completely, says Bill Hume, national sales manager for the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, Colo. Hume suggests making the following adjustments to liven up room arrangements. (To see some of these in action, visit, and click on “floor plans.”)

Instead of crescent rounds, try pods. When attendees need to break into small groups, the traditional solution is crescent rounds, i.e., round banquet tables with five or six chairs that form a semicircle around it. Instead, Hume uses “pods” (also called “clusters” or a “scattered conference” setup), which are 5-foot by 30-inch rectangular tables pushed into larger rectangles and scattered about the room, angled slightly to face the lectern. The pods can be made from just one table or from as many as six.

“Not only can everybody face one another,” says Hume, “but they can also, with a 90-degree turn, face the front of the room as well.”

Instead of school room, try cybercafe. In situations when attendees need to use computers and want some privacy, Hume arranges long tables in long rectangles, almost like boardroom tables, so that no one is positioned to see more than his or her own screen.

Instead of theater-style, try amphitheater. Even large groups are arranging seats in concentric circles. Says Hume, “When you’re looking somebody in the eye, it’s less nerve-racking to contribute.”