Note: This is part one of a three part series on Theater-in-the-Round. Today, the focus is on staging, next week will be on speaking, and then having a panel in the round. Enjoy!
You walk into the convention ballroom and immediately recognize that this meeting is going to be different.
The stage is not at the front of the room, but in the middle of the room. There is no lectern – no “front” to the stage. The chairs are placed closely around all sides of the stage, with highboy tables lining the back ring of chairs. There are four screens hanging from the rafters, much like a jumbotron in an athletic stadium.
Oh yeah. This is not the typical meeting room set.
Welcome to the most intimate seating arrangement for a large group: Theater-in-the-round. It’s an audience-centric room set where the audience is looking at each other during the meeting, making deeper connections with each other and with the speakers. It also allows more engagement and involvement with the audience since 50% of the audience is closer to the stage than typical theater-style seating.
Theater-in-the-round is not all that new. Common in Greek and Roman times, (remember the Coliseum?), theater in the round is used worldwide for small, intimate plays and performances. But for large events? Is that even possible?
Sarah Michel, VP at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, has staged several of these style events. She responds, “Absolutely! The goal is to bring the audience in to the conversation, to create connections and enthusiasm for the meeting. You can’t do that in a traditional format with hundreds of people, but you can in a theater-in-the-round.”
To do theater-in-the-round style seating right, consider these key factors:
Next week: A few pointers for your speakers!
How to Keep the Audience Engaged During A Panel with One Simple Trick
Catchbox: How to Use the Audience Engaging Event Technology Tool at Your Next Conference or Panel Discussion
How to Overcome Deathly Panel Q&A
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.