How much thought do you give to where you sit in a meeting? How people are seated in relation to the room and one another has a profound effect on the atmosphere and can set a very specific tone.

In some scenarios, there is no choice. Think about an interview, you are often invited to take a certain seat, usually directly opposite the interviewer but when you have a choice, here are some top tips to help you consider which seat to choose:

1.     Sitting directly opposite is pretty confrontational, so other than a formal interview, only make this choice if you really want a very formal conversation.

2.     Sitting next to someone in a 1-2-1 meeting is quite odd, unless you need to look at papers/a screen together.

3.     If two of you from your team/company are meeting with someone from another team/company, avoid sitting next to one another and opposite them. The only time this is really recommended is a formal pitch. For a regular meeting, sitting on 3 sides of the table (if it is fairly small) is best or if it is large table, one of you is best to sit next to the person from the other team/company.

4.     For most 1-2-1 meetings, sitting ‘across the corner’ from one another is best – it’s easy to see one another, build rapport through mirroring and create an ambience of partnership/working together.

5.     If you are the first one in the room, try to sit so you can see the door easily. That way as people come in, it is easy to give them your full attention. For more formal/client meetings, remember to stand up to greet people as they come in the room. If you are awaiting one person, try to make it obvious which chair you’d like them to take when they come in – either by gesturing or by pulling it out slightly.

Many people intuitively consider where is best to sit and sometimes you are ‘shown’ to a seat, but if you think you have less intuition and nobody is directing you, then select carefully. It isn’t rocket science but relative seating positions can affect the whole ambience of a meeting and even the outcome. Small things do make a difference!

Joanna Gaudoin helps professional people with all elements of their image and impact to ultimately build great professional relationships. If you’d like to work on improving your engagement with others – by assessing how you can improve from where you are and what that improvement looks like, then send Joanna a message [email protected] for a no obligation conversation.
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Image courtesy of: freeimages.com/GideonGeldenhuys