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Think twice before you take a seat in your next meeting.
Whether you’re going for an interview, the pitch of your life or just a team catch up, there’s a surprising amount of natural instinct that comes into play when we choose our seats in a meeting room. Take some time to think about your seat choice and you could very well find yourself with the upper hand.
A lot can be said about where you sit in a meeting room, as it can quickly establish an egalitarian or authoritative dynamic. If you want to read every emotion in someone's face - you’ll want to sit them in the light. Similarly, in order to hold the power in any meeting room, it’s best to sit diagonally opposite from the door, in what we call the ‘power corner’. This position across from the door commands the respect of the room whilst also providing visibility over your attendees and anyone about to enter the room.
If you’re providing rooms dedicated to private work, then the positioning of the desk and entrance will be crucial to how comfortable your staff will feel these spaces. The room in example one gives little privacy as the user is effectively exposed to the outside, working with their back to anyone passing by. This will result in the room being rarely used!
The perception of the room and utility of the space can be changed by moving the furniture 90 degrees to be next to the window. Since the user will no longer be working with their back to the window, they feel an increased sense of control over their surroundings, whilst adding an element of privacy to the space. This will result in a much higher room utilisation.
Think about the way the light falls in your meeting room, or where the distractions are likely to come from. For example, if your boardroom has a long glass wall either looking to the outside or an internal hallway, you’re going to want to sit with your back to it. This will ensure that you remain focused throughout the meeting, yet it also puts the light on your attendee’s faces - allowing you to carefully read their reactions. It’ll also ensure that you come across as focussed and undeterred by any distractions from the outside. This does go against the theory of having your back to the window, however since this is a meeting and not a workspace, the impact is softened.
Circular tables in large meeting rooms are a great way to ensure that everyone is provided with an equal presence and no one holds more power in the room than another. This allows most people see others in their natural line of site, rather than having to shift their focus to speak to other members of the group.