How Event Planners Find the Right Meeting Room Size Fast

Have you ever found yourself in a meeting room with the venues capacity chart in hand thinking “no way can I fit 230 people theatre style into this room“. 

Well come closer and listen carefully. 

Capacity charts can be very confusing. There is no consistency in the way capacity is quoted from one venue to the other. For instance one venue might say 2.000 attendees, theatre style in an area of 16.000 square feet and another will have the same 2.000 attendees in an area of 20.000 square feet. Which one is the right one for your event?

Looking more closely at the capacity charts you find the following:

  • No stages: To maximize capacity, no stage area is included. Usually, the more attendees you have the bigger the stage gets so be careful with big events.
  • Small chairs: Many venues have smaller chairs and one inch more or less makes a difference when multiplied. Not only will the space feel cramped but your attendees will be very uncomfortable on small chairs.
  • Few aisles: I sometimes wonder how the attendees are supposed to get to their seats with so few aisles. Even worse is the thought of an emergency egress. People will have a hard time getting out fast.

Here‘s how you make sure your meeting fits comfortably into the room.

  1. Make sure you have the correct room dimensions. See my last post on floor plans.
  2. Watch out for rows of pillars near the wall that reduces the clear seating area. This area has an unobstructed view of the stage/screen area.
  3. From this, subtract the stage and/or dance floor area.
  4. To determine the true capacity for a comfortable meeting, use one of the following formulas depending on setup style:

Theatre style

Clear seating area (in square feet) divided by 9.3 equals the number of attendees.

For example: 15.434 square feet / 9.3 = 1.660 attendees that can be seated comfortably.

Banquet style

Clear seating area (in square feet) divided by 13 equals the number of attendees.

For example: 15.434 square feet / 13 = 1.187 attendees that can be seated comfortably.

Classroom style

Clear seating area (in square feet) divided by 16.8 equals the number of attendees.

For example: 15.434 square feet / 16.8 = 919 attendees that can be seated comfortably.

The factors given can also be used to determine how large a meeting room must be for a given audience size. Just multiply the number of attendees by the factor, adding additional space for a stage or dance floor. 

These examples will vary depending on what kind of setup you have and the size of the furnishings but you get a good indication if your meeting will fit into the available space. Let me know how you used this information while planning your next event by commenting down below.