In the research I did on my recent trip to Thailand, I discovered
that a meeting or seminar custom is to seat VIP attendees in the
front row
. No one of a lesser status either socially or in
business would think of sitting closer to the front than their
boss, or someone of a higher social ranking. This is a very loose
and largely ignored custom in Western meetings, and carries a
significantly higher decorum in Thailand and Asia. Since many
meetings are rather westernized anyway, don*t fret if your
meeting is not run this way, but your knowledge and adherence to
this custom can earn you some real points with the people that
count.

Room Setup
I normally use a semi circular theatre style room setup whenever
I can. In my Thailand talk, I found out approximately how many
VIPs there would be and set the front row with plush chairs that
were obviously nicer and different than the rest of the typical
hotel chairs. I befriended one of the attendees who knew what the
VIP attendees looked like. When a VIP was identified, either me
or my assistant escorted them to a front row seat. I had some
time to blow while awaiting the arrival of the Governor so, I
went around the room allowing the attendees to name themselves
and their affiliations. I started at the back of the room and
ended with the most senior official in the front row. These
gestures were very well received and paved the way for a very
productive meeting.

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