Conference Set Design
Where to Start and What’s Involved
Conference set design is critical to immersing a live and/or virtual audience in your brand, and giving your keynote speakers a platform to deliver their core messages.
Where to Begin?
So, where do you begin when it comes to your conference design?
Whether you are planning a pharmaceutical conference or an annual sales meeting, stakeholders may have strong opinions about the way the set should look. However, the set designers will guide you in a direction that suits your venue, the audience and the format of your conference.
That’s why our first piece of advice is to engage the set designer early on in the process.
Start with Engaging the Conference Production Company
Set design is often a service delivered by a conference production company, such as ourselves.
By involving your conference production company early on in the planning stages, you will benefit from their expertise. Consequently, they will ensure all the pieces of your conference production slot neatly into place. That includes:
- Set design
- Lighting and controls
- Power and cabling
- Data networks
- Translation kit and booths
- Prompt cues
- Video production and streaming
- Audio and PA systems
- Sound mixers
Consult with the Set Designer and Recce the Venue Together
First things first, you need to consult with a conference set designer at the earliest convenience.
We find that it’s best practice to involve the set designer in the venue finding process. But, if it’s already too late for that, then invite the designer to recce the venue with you. During the recce, you can discuss the desired layout of the stage, seating and other equipment/services.
Determine the Seating Layout
The set designer can not only help you come up with an awesome conference set design, but they can also help plan the seating layout to accommodate your expected delegate numbers in the venue.
At this point, it’s worth noting there are many types of conference seating styles to choose from, including:
- Theatre is the most common seating style for a conference and it includes straight rows of seats all facing the stage.
- Classroom is where each delegate has a table, desk or leaning platform in front of them.
- Herringbone is where there is a middle aisle of seats, flanked with angled seating either side, reminiscent of a semi-circle.
- Circle is where the audience encircles a central stage/platform.
- Horseshoe is where the delegates face inwards in the shape of horseshoe. The is a typical seating layout of a catwalk fashion show.
- Square seating arrangements are similar to circle, where the stage is set in the middle of the audience.
The seating and room layout will determine many factors, such as:
- The stage shape
- Stage height
- Stage positioning
- The requirement for screens
- Positioning audio visual equipment
- Lighting and rigging points
- Stage and set lighting
- Projection for presentations
- Furniture for the stage
- Cable routes
The layout will not only determine the conference set design, but also the budget. Different layouts require different facilities and equipment, such as cabling, set materials, lighting hire and rigging.
Write a Conference Set Design Brief
Everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet, so writing a detailed brief for your conference set design and build should be a top priority. Here’s what you should include:
- Brief description of your company and why you are hosting the conference.
- Date of event and access to venue dates.
- Location and venue details if you have already booked the venue.
- Access information for the venue for loading in the set and equipment. State which floor the conference room is on and how to access it.
- Conference room dimensions .
- How many days will the crew have to build the set in advance of the event?
- Brand guidelines, including colours, fonts, positioning, logo.
- A draft of the presentation or an overview of the content to give the set designer an indication of the tone, pace and nature of the event.
- Explain any security concerns relating to the conference content or delegates.
- Conference itinerary, including coffee, lunch and dinner breaks.
- Delegate numbers and any special requirements, such as translation services.
- Your budget! This is very important, as the conference set will be designed and equipment specified to meet your budget.
- Is there onsite accommodation and food for the crew, or should there be an allowance for this in the set design/conference production quote?
- Is the set being designed for a one-off event or several events? If so, what are the dates and locations of the other conferences? Is there a a set budget for each subsequent event?
- Who is the audience? Are they customers, colleagues, fellow professionals? What is their job title and what sectors do they work in?
- Is the audience a live or virtual audience – perhaps both?
- Do you require video and streaming production services?
How we do Conference Set Design
TPP has been producing conferences for over 20 years. Set design and build is very much part of our conference services. That’s why we feel comfortable offering this ‘how to’ style advice.
Aside from the practicalities of the venue and location, for us, conference set design is all about understanding the nature of the conference, the audience, the brand, the client and what you you want to achieve.
Typically, we are invited into the event planning team and involved in much of the decision making, as we offer advice on not just the design and layout, but the technical solutions that make a conference engaging and successful.
End to End Design and Production
One of our first priorities is to visit the venue. Sometimes we are part of the venue finding process, which can make the process more efficient and fluid.
At the venue, we measure the room dimensions, note the power outlets, hoists and rigging points if there are any, and explore access to the venue and the conference room inside the venue.
Once we have a detailed understanding of the conference plans – the venue, brief and budget – we set to designing the set. Initially, we’ll mock up several styles that we think work within the venue, and suit the company branding and meet the allocated budget. You’ll then choose your favourite option for us to develop.
Next, we draw up the designs in 2D scale drawing and 3D renders, including the set and stage, screens and stand positions, seating and table layout, the location of any other equipment, such as translation booths and cameras.
As part of the designs, all of the technical equipment will be specified. This includes lighting, rigging, cabling, laptops, audio visual equipment, PA systems, mixers, controls, projectors, data networks and video cameras.
With the designs approved, we will build the sets and prepare the kit ready to be transported and built on site.
Before, during and after the event our experienced crew will onsite to complete the build, programme the lighting, manage the presentations, and oversee the smooth production.
Optional Extra Design Features
As well as the main room conference set design, there are a few optional extras that you could consider, such as:
- Lighting through the room when the conference breaks.
- Breakout room AV equipment (lighting, screens, projection and audio.
- Interactive digital displays.
- Welcome messages on screens for guests.
- Exhibition stands for suppliers at the conference.
- Entertainment lighting and set projection.
Talk to TPP about your Conference Set Design
If you are planning a conference and need support with your set design and build, give us a call or drop us an email. Click our Contact page to get in touch.