I recently participated in an open discussion on the topic of how do you direct the natural need of persons attending a meeting or convention to sit at the back of the room leaving the front seats empty. My response was :
“For me people will instinctively want to go to the back as it is the place where they feel most
comfortable. It’s like they are hiding in an open box hoping not to be seen. I never try to reinvent the wheel on this one. Use lighting to your benefit and only light the area of seating as the audience comes in. Yes have your staff there and as the room fills the lights go up. Using only one door for entrance also helps to ‘herd’ the attendees in and as the room fills close that door and use the rear door to fill the seats to the rear. As a Wow moment at some point in the conference offer the first row of persons a small gift for being the first attendees. It encourages them. It could be anything but it must be small and inexpensive. It really is all about the acknowledgement rather than the gift.”
People will be people and nobody wants to sit at the front, maybe an exception or two but most tend not to want the spotlight. Tips- set your room up so there are no back seats. Put the stage in the center and have the seats flow around the stage. It gives the speaker the opportunity to be closer to the audience, it is good theater in the round and it makes everyone feels equal , remember Arthur’s round table. Same concept. Always make your audience feel comfortable. That is the start to a successful meeting without the first word being spoken.
I invite you to share your thoughts or ideas on this topic.