[Disclaimer: The following blog post is a rewrite of Seth Godin’s original work. Full credit goes to Seth Godin as the original author.]
Today, I’d like to share with you a valuable secret I learned from Seth Godin about the dynamics of banquet tables. Have you ever wondered why banquet tables are often set up for ten people? Seth reveals the hidden intention behind this design choice and offers an alternative that could significantly improve your event experience.
The Perfect Size Dilemma:
The genius behind the invention of the banquet table, specifically the round table for ten, had a different motive in mind. It wasn’t primarily about pleasing the banquet attendees or organizers. The true inspiration behind this design was the optimization of the kitchen and the convenience of the servers. The table for ten embodies the ideal intersection between the geometry of bread baskets, flower arrangements, and salad dressing. Any larger, and it becomes difficult to reach across the table; any smaller, and there is insufficient room.
The Isolation Effect:
However, there’s a catch. The table for ten inadvertently isolates those seated around it. Engaging in conversation with someone to your left requires ignoring the person on your right, and talking across the table necessitates raising your voice. Consequently, the very setup intended to foster audience engagement ends up doing the opposite. This holds true even if you’re taking nine people out for dinner—a table for ten undermines the purpose you set out to achieve.
Undermining the Speaker or Presentation:
To exacerbate matters, if you have a speaker or a presentation at your banquet, the table for ten seriously undermines your goals. Half the audience ends up looking in the wrong direction, and the vacant spaces between people create significant gaps that no microphone can bridge.
The Magic of Five People:
Now, let me share Seth’s invaluable insight with you. Through countless experiences and speeches, he discovered that the key to success lies in seating five people at tables designed for four. Five, being a magical prime number, compels everyone to interact with one another. The close proximity fosters genuine connections and conversations—the very purpose for which people attend events.
It’s crucial to recognize that if you relinquish control to the banquet manager and allow them to run your event, their goals may differ from yours. By challenging the conventional seating arrangements, you have the opportunity to create a more engaging and fulfilling experience for your guests.
In conclusion, thanks to Seth Godin’s valuable secret, we now understand the untapped potential behind seating arrangements at banquets. Abandoning the table for ten in favor of seating five individuals at tables for four has proven to be a game-changer. By encouraging meaningful interactions, you can achieve your event objectives and create a memorable experience for all attendees. So, take the reins and implement this insightful alternative—your guests will thank you for it!
Thanks Seth for always showing up.