With You All the Way

by Sharron Campbell,

Certified Meeting Professional, 30 years experience

Sketched diagrams help vendors and venues visualize the setup you want immediately.

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Sketching diagrams of the room or space set-up as you envision it for your meetings and functions will be an invaluable timesaver.   The sketches don’t have to be perfect!  A hand-drawn diagram will be sufficient, and worth more than a thousand words when communicating to a caterer or set-up manager how you expect the room or function space to be set.  Another benefit to creating your own sketches is the reinforcement in your own mind of what expectations are realistic and what might need to be tweaked before the preferred set-up is communicated.  

There are standard measurements you can use when sketching a diagram that will give you a rough idea of how many people can fit comfortably in a room using the seating style you prefer.  CAUTION!  These measurements do not take into account the extra space needed for audiovisual equipment and technicians, food and beverage stations, aisles in the room, alcoves, pillars, entrances for guests, access doors for service personnel, and more.  Be sure your diagrams are clearly marked as “NOT TO SCALE.”

It is always better to underestimate the capacity that a room can accommodate rather than overestimating it.  Do your own evaluation during a site visit that you or a trusted volunteer conduct rather than relying on capacity charts found on websites or in printed materials.  Most capacity charts state the maximum number of people that can fit in the room or space with a basic set-up and no audiovisual equipment or food and beverage stations.  When those items are added, the capacity of the space will be reduced significantly.

There is professional software that can draw a layout to scale (configured to the exact dimensions of the meeting room or function space and the size of the furniture and equipment to be placed in it), but even then, until the floor manager at the venue approves a diagram, you cannot be certain the space can be set as you would like it to be.  There may be obstacles along a wall in a room, for example, that would prevent a screen from being placed flush against it.  In that case, the screen would have to be moved three or four feet from the wall and you may have to give up the first row of seats for your meeting.  Now that can be an unhappy surprise! 

The hotel or venue you are using will most likely have the technology to finalize your sketches into diagrams that are to scale, but you will need to receive them weeks in advance if you are to have the time needed to change your set-up or program if necessary. 

 
   
 bluebullet  Sample function specifications with diagram of meeting room setup (PDF)
 bluebullet  Seating type illustrations
 bluebullet  How to estimate setup space requirements 
 bluebullet  Setup guidelines- - how to get started
 bluebullet  View all Planning Helper Topics about meetings, events, social functions