Chameleons every­where in Aus­tralian meet­ing venues

Di­rec­tor of Con­fer­ence Fo­cus, Max Turpin is shar­ing his in­sights on a range of top­ics with a reg­u­lar col­umn in BEN. Top­ics in­clude new gen­er­a­tion events and mak­ing events ef­fec­tive and valu­able.

Business Events News - - News -

THIS ar­ti­cle cov­ers the con­cept of the cabaret and cabaret style seat­ing, in­clud­ing its ori­gins, what it means and why the meet­ings in­dus­try has adopted this style of seat­ing. What en­cour­aged me to fo­cus on this topic is the re­al­i­sa­tion that there’s a key as­pect of it that’s been lost on many venues and venue staff. The word ‘cabaret’ is de­rived from an an­cient Mid­dle Dutch word, ‘cam­bret’, mean­ing tav­ern. By the early 20th cen­tury, the word ‘cabaret’ came to mean a pub, restau­rant or night club of­fer­ing food, drink and en­ter­tain­ment, es­pe­cially stage per­for­mances. So a cabaret (show) is a venue at which you can sit and watch a per­for­mance while eat­ing and drink­ing at the same time. The seat­ing at th­ese venues is both prac­ti­cal and com­fort­able – it al­lows guests to eat, drink and watch a per­for­mance with­out the need to move their seats, swivel or crane their necks in or­der to see the stage and en­ter­tain­ers. In to­day’s meet­ing rooms, cabaret style seat­ing is cre­ated us­ing ban­quet rounds with the end fac­ing the stage left open. This al­lows guests to sit and watch a speech or pre­sen­ta­tion while writ­ing notes and hav­ing a drink in front of them. Dur­ing break­fast, lunch or din­ner pre­sen­ta­tions, it also means guests can be served food. I tend to think we all have that ba­sic un­der­stand­ing. How­ever, when deal­ing with venues I of­ten en­counter a fun­da­men­tal part of this con­cept that seems lost to them. Yet to me, it’s the most im­por­tant part of all. To start with, an evo­lu­tion­ary re­minder: Un­like snakes and lizards that have eyes on the side of their heads, or chameleons with eyes that in­de­pen­dently swivel, homo sapi­ens have eyes po­si­tioned on the front of their heads that face for­ward. My ex­pe­ri­ences re­veal that many venue staff have the be­lief (or teach­ing) that cabaret style means hav­ing eight peo­ple sit­ting at a ban­quet round for 10. How­ever, this will un­doubt­edly re­sult in some peo­ple sit­ting with their backs to the stage and oth­ers sideon to it. How is this prac­ti­cal or ac­cept­able? In my world, cabaret style means hav­ing a max­i­mum of seven peo­ple, prefer­ably only six or even five, seated at a round for 10. This cre­ates ad­e­quate open space at the front of the ta­ble so that no-one has to move to see what’s go­ing on, swivel their chairs around or make an at­tempt at be­ing a chameleon. I wish venues would re­alise this fun­da­men­tal. From a meet­ing de­sign per­spec­tive, the other pur­pose of cabaret style is that it fa­cil­i­tates dis­cus­sion and in­ter­ac­tion with oth­ers seated at the same ta­ble. If you host a meet­ing with no par­tic­i­pa­tion or in­ter­ac­tion in­tended, there’s re­ally not a great deal of point in set­ting up your room that way.

If you’d like to learn more about how to make your events fresh, in­no­va­tive and ef­fec­tive, please con­tact Max Turpin at Con­fer­ence Fo­cus on 02 9700 7740 or email max@con­fer­ence­fo­

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