February 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts February 2003 Current Issue
February 2003
Short Cuts:
The Art of Seating

How to decide who sits where and why


You’ve spent hours searching out a venue, selecting the perfect menu and choosing the right wines. Blow the seating, though, and the boss will not be dazzled. “Creating a seating chart of who sits where is crucial,” says etiquette guru Cynthia Lett. “It is extremely important to respect guests, especially the host, by paying attention to title and position. And it is not up to a guest to decide where and with whom they want to sit.”

There are three basic rules of seating, says Lett, a former meeting planner and owner of The Lett Group (www.lettgroup.com), who has been giving etiquette seminars for more than 18 years. “The number-one rule is that the guest of honor always goes to the right of the host. Most people do not have a clue where they should sit, so give everyone a place card, not just a table number. And make sure higher-level attendees are given the best seats, which shows respect for their titles.”

When seating attendees who use wheelchairs or walking aids such as crutches, use common sense and kindness. Seats should be easily accessed from a wide aisle, and walking aids should be stored within reach.

For events where a company is entertaining its top clients, sprinkle senior staff around the room to host individual tables, suggests Ann Humphries, president of Columbia, S.C.-based Eticon (www.eticon.com). “These events are about cultivating relationships,” she says. “Employees shouldn’t be gathered together at one table.”

If spouses and significant others are in attendance, separate them, says Lett. “Don’t seat them side by side put them across from each other. They can always talk when they get back home.”


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