When you walk into a conference room for a meeting, how do you choose where to sit when there isn’t assigned seating?

There is a bit of strategy involved when picking a seat in the conference room. Before you grab just any seat, you might want to think through the purpose of the meeting first. That goes for all meetings, but particularly for meetings with an international business partner.

In Japan, there is an etiquette to where you sit depending on who you are (your position, your involvement in the meeting, etc.). If you are the host, sit closer to the door; let your guests sit at the head of the table, which are the chairs furthest inside the room.

In certain meetings, sitting all the way inside may not be practical and convenient, so you let the most important guest sit in the center of the table.

Questions to consider:

What is the purpose of your meeting?

Are you planning to use the whiteboard or the monitor?

Who are the main players in the meeting?

Try not to scatter people around the table for no reason, but you can break with tradition if there is a good strategy behind it. Where you place yourself at the table and how you present yourself can be a move in your favor, so give it some consideration before your guests arrive.

You might want to study up on your guests before they arrive and understand their roles. The more you know before they enter the room, the better impression you and your business will make. And it’s not a bad idea to have seating assignments prepared ahead of time. After all, a good first impression can set the tone for a successful international business meeting.