Setting the stage for an effective meeting is a little more complex than dragging chairs from the lunchroom to the boardroom. When you set up your meeting space, you need to consider the style of meeting and the technology that is going to be used.

Theater Style
Theater-style seating consists of several rows of chairs facing the front of the room. This arrangement works best for formal presentations, where participants are focused on the presenter. Because there are no tables, this arrangement isn't conducive to taking notes or working on a laptop.

Technology-wise, a projector, screen and laptop should be situated at the front of the room. Alternatively, an interactive whiteboard (such as the SMART Board) could replace a pull-down screen. The SMART Board works with a computer and projector, allowing presenters to interact directly with computer-based information by simply pressing on the Board's large, touch-sensitive surface. With an interactive whiteboard, it's easier for a presenter to maintain eye contact with her audience, because she can work directly from the whiteboard without having to run back and forth between the computer and screen.

Because participants can't easily take notes in a theater-style arrangement, the SMART Board is ideal – the presenter can save her presentation (along with any notes she made during the meeting) to distribute to the audience.

For a really professional look, consider the Rear Projection SMART Board. The rear-projection unit eliminates shadows from the projector and ensures the audience can see the entire screen at all times.

Classroom Style
A classroom-style setup uses long, narrow tables placed in front of rows of chairs – all facing the speaker. This setup is ideal for formal presentations where the audience is expected to take notes. Using the tables, participants can write notes, work on their laptops or use PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants). Again, the presenter can use either a screen or an interactive whiteboard with his computer.

If presenters plan to use a variety of multimedia, a multimedia cabinet is essential. SMART Expression is a mobile multimedia cabinet that holds a projector, computer, printer, scanner, DVD player or any other peripheral you select. Because the cabinet is pre-configured with all necessary cables and wiring, a presenter simply wheels the cabinet into the room and plugs in a single cable to access all the equipment. There's no pre-meeting setup or messy cabling to deal with.

Banquet Style
A banquet-style setup consists of several tables scattered throughout the room. This setup is perfect for small breakout sessions or collaborative work groups.

Because breakout groups need collaborative technology, the ideal setup would have several interactive whiteboards and mobile multimedia cabinets around the room. Standard whiteboards are also great for breakout groups because participants can easily jot down their ideas during a brainstorming session and then save them for future reference.

With Hawkeye, a whiteboard capture system, you can take a digitally enhanced photo of your whiteboard notes and view them from a Web browser after the meeting. Because participants don't have to take their own notes, they can concentrate on generating great ideas.

U-Shape Style
A U-shaped arrangement is ideal if participants need to see the front of the room and work in small groups. Because this style is conducive to both formal presentations and collaborative work, the technology setup should be similar to that used in a banquet-style arrangement.

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