When organizing presentations, brainstorming sessions, and even business lunches, your seating choice probably isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. However, where you sit in professional settings carries a lot more weight than you might realize—especially when you’re running your own business.
Read on to learn where best to sit in different business situations in order to facilitate communication and appear professional.
Brainstorming Meetings. If you want one of your teams or departments to get together for a brainstorming session, they’re more likely to take risks and come up with creative solutions if you’re not hovering over them. Even if you and your employees get along well, it can be intimidating to have the boss sitting in.
Instead, set up a session where everyone is on more or less the same professional level and arrange their seats in a circle at a round table so everyone can see each other and be on equal footing. If you want an even more informal set-up to encourage candid communication, keep the chairs in a circle but get rid of the table.
Presentation with One Speaker. When bringing in a presenter to speak to your employees, try arranging the seats theater-style, in a herringbone pattern with staggered rows so everyone can see the stage or the front of the room.
If you’re going to be watching the presentation yourself, take a seat in the middle of the row as close to the front as possible. This will allow you to focus on the presentation and show the presenter that you’re truly invested in what they have to say.
Presentation with Two Speakers. Let’s say that you and your business partner want to put on a presentation for your employees. Two-person presentations can sometimes feel awkward when both people are standing at the front of the room together, especially when one person is waiting a long time for their opportunity to talk.
Unless there is going to be a lot of back-and-forth between you and your partner, divide the presentation up so only one of you is at the front of the room at a time. The other person can stand or sit at the side of the room towards the front to allow for a smooth transition.
Business Lunch. If you’ve invited a client, co-worker, or job candidate to lunch at a restaurant, try to get a 4-top table in a quiet corner of the room so there are minimal distractions. Arrive slightly early and, when the person you are meeting arrives, politely invite them to take the seat next to you on the corner. This will allow for more intimate conversation than if the two of you were to sit directly across from one another.
Interview with a Job Candidate. Rather than making a job candidate guess where you want them to sit during an interview, set up a chair directly across your table or desk from you. If you are conducting a group interview, set up chairs for the interview panel on one side of the table and one chair for the interview candidate on the other side, centered so the interviewee can easily address all panel members. Remember to invite your candidate to sit, as they may have learned that they should wait for an invitation.
Where you and the people you work with sit can have a surprisingly big impact on the dynamic of any professional situation; try implementing the above tips and see what a difference they make. And if you’re looking for even more professional seating tips, check out this infographic from Seats and Stools.