Meeting Seating: Does Where You Sit Make a Difference?

Choose your meeting seat carefully

When meeting with clients and prospects, you know the importance of setting an agenda, effectively navigating negotiations and being prepared to handle objections. However, have you also considered where you’re going to sit when you enter the room?

Where you – and others – are seated can be just as important to a meeting as what you say and how you say it. According to BDU’s CEO Lisa Peskin, there are a few things to consider when choosing your spot:

  1. First, choose the best meeting location. Lisa always recommends meeting prospects in a neutral location somewhere outside of their office. Why? Meeting at an outside location instead of sitting across from the decision-maker behind their desk levels the playing field and establishes you both on equal footing right from the start.
  2. Don’t take the seat at the head of the table. If you’re headed into a boardroom, always leave the head of the table for your prospect. According to Lisa, it can be perceived as presumptuous for you to take that power seat. Instead, leave it open to give them the option of sitting there. The only time you should choose the head of the table right away is if you’re giving a presentation to a group.
  3. Consider how different seating arrangements should be utilized depending on the number of people in the meeting.
    For example:
    – Is it just you and one other person (or a very small group of people)? Sit on one side of the table across from them.
    – Are there two of you from your company but only one of them? Make sure you both sit across from them and not on either side. This way, they won’t have to constantly move their head in both directions.
    – Are there two people from your company and two from theirs? Each of you should seat yourself in front of your equal. For example, if you’re the CEO, sit across from their CEO and seat your colleague across from their colleague.
  4. For lunch meetings, sit next to your colleagues and across the table from your attendees. Having a lunch meeting for four people, with you and your colleague meeting with two people from another company? Make sure to sit next to your colleague so you can look across the table at the other two people.
  5. Bring yourself up to equal eye level. Are they a bit taller than you are? Lisa often runs into this problem. Her solution? Just raise your seat up so you’re all seated at the same height!

These are just some of the ways Lisa says you can maximize how seating is arranged in meetings to your benefit. She does point out, of course, that these might not always work for every person or in every situation. Judge your situation and make the appropriate seating choices accordingly, then let us know what’s worked for you!

Do you have any additional thoughts on how best to arrange seating when you’re in a meeting? Have you found one tried-and-true tip that’s too good not to share? We’d love to hear from you!

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