By Tori Goodrich
Are you running the meeting? Do you want to have the ear of the meeting’s Chair? Or do you want to just blend in?
Where you sit in a meeting directly influences your effectiveness. Many factors (content, preparation, appearance, language, posture, etc.) are important. However, choosing the right seat in a room also matters.
The next time you sit with your client or at a meeting, be aware of where you sit or who’s sitting where. You will start to notice the power dynamics change based on who’s sitting next to whom.
Let’s talk about a rectangular conference table found in most meeting rooms. The power position is at the head of the table. Everyone in the meeting can see you. From this seat you can best facilitate the flow of the meeting.
The seat immediately opposite the Chair is the second power position. This seat tends to be reserved for the guest. It is visible to all and a good location for people who need to join the meeting to present specific items on the agenda.
The individuals who sit next to the Chair have the ear of the Chair. When you sit in this position you can influence the flow of the meeting by assisting the Chair. You can draw attention towards or away from topics.
The middle of the table is good place to sit if you are unfamiliar with the group and you’d like to quietly size up the situation. This is also the seat if you want to be forgotten or overlooked.
(Please note that the above positioning is not the case in other countries so be aware if you have foreign clients.)
My preference is a round table which creates an atmosphere of relaxed informality and is ideal for promoting discussion among people who are of equal status, as each person can claim the same amount of table territory.
Tori Goodrich is a life, business and professional coach. She is also the co-owner of Gener8tional Connections helping companies work through the great divide. Contact Tori by telephone at 610.613.2127, on the web at www.victoriagoodrich.com, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.