I stumbled upon a picture of a panel recently and cringed. The moderator and panelists are sitting on simple, four legged barstools with an itty bitty circular seat. They look extremely uncomfortable…and I can’t imagine it made for stimulating conversation.
So what makes the perfect chair to incite an interesting and impact-full discussion of ideas?
It certainly isn’t the standard hotel chair behind a white (or other color) draped table….(I think you know my opinions about this!).
I am not a big fan of the big, high back stuffed chairs that are better suited to be showcased in the living room that no one uses. While they may look nice, your panelists don’t know how to sit in them. Should you sit back into the chair, then you look like a slouch. If you sit forward (which I recommend), then you can’t use the back of the chair for comfort. Because the seat is typically so big, do you sit on the right or the left side of the seat? And, if you are short in stature, it just looks odd if your feet can’t touch the ground.
The second cousin to the high back dining room chairs are some typical dining room chairs which are much more comfortable – and you can space them closer to each other. Although my issue with these chairs is that unless you have the crew up on a platform or riser, then the participants in the back won’t be able to see what’s going on.
So what’s my preference? I like a tall, well-made, and sturdy director chair. They add an element of informality and conversational tone to the room. The shape of the chair almost forces the panelists to sit forward and be engaged. And, there is a place for your feet.
Mike Koenigs actually had these chairs made with his brand embroidered on the back. He hosts several internet marketing conferences and actually ships them to his engagements because he ALWAYS has a robust panel discussion.
What do you think is the perfect chair – and why?
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Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.
Any chair with a seat-height any greater than about 17 inches is crazy, inhumanely uncomfortable, and makes the users look like trapped, clumsy doofuses. I say this as an architect-type and as one who doesn’t like to see people’s feet swinging in the air like a little kid’s. Your photo above is way too small and dark to see what your “special” chairs really do, but they look dubious from here. And just forget making any handicapped/disabled/gimpy person feel welcome or at ease! “Highchairs” make even the sprightly & able-bodied into oafs.
These are sturdy director’s chairs – certainly not anything special – but they ARE comfortable for most people, as long as there is a place to rest your feet. In your pre-call with the panelists, you should let the panelists know what kind of chairs you intend to use, so if there is a disability, you’ll know about it. So…I had asked, “What do you think is the perfect chair and why?”