Training Delivery

by Terry Wilkinson

Room layout

The learning environment will be influenced by the layout of the room and the seating arrangements. There is no ‘right’ way to set up a room. The appropriate setup will depend on the shape of the room, any fixed equipment, such as screens and projectors, the number of people, the nature of the training and so on.

Once you know the restrictions of the room itself, imagine the training in progress. What kind of atmosphere is there? How are people relating? Where is the focus of the activity? As you imagine the training in your mind, change the way people are placed about the room. Some arrangements will support the atmosphere you want, others will detract from it.

Thought needs to be given as to how the group will be expected to interact with the trainer and each other. Here are the common options for room layouts and some helpful information about how each affects the group.

Classroom or row seating

  • Suitable layout for large numbers
  • Discourages group interaction
  • Encourages sideways conversation rather than interaction with the trainer
  • Suited to instructional teaching or giving information when communication is one way

Rectangle or boardroom

  • Identifies clear leadership of trainer
  • Allows some eye contact between delegates
  • A table can create a physical barrier between delegates
  • Not suitable for large numbers
  • Allows some group interaction, but inhibited by table

Circle

  • Trainer’s leadership less defined
  • Unrestricted eye contact
  • Assuming there’s no table, delegates can feel exposed, which may produce tension
  • Promotes non-verbal communication between delegates
  • Suited to small groups
  • Encourages interaction
  • If there’s a table, this can create a barrier

Long triangle

  • Identifies clear leadership of trainer
  • Clear vision from delegates to trainer
  • Restricted eye contact between delegates
  • Discourages group interaction
  • Suited to information giving and one-way communication

U shape or horseshoe

  • Identifies clear leadership of trainer
  • Promotes openness necessary for active participation
  • Good eye contact with trainer
  • Some/comfortable eye contact between delegates
  • Suited to problem-solving and decision-making sessions

Islands or small squares

  • Identifies clear leadership of trainer
  • Clear vision between delegates in each group
  • Enables delegates to feel secure in small groups
  • Can restrict eye contact with trainer
  • Encourages small group work
  • Encourages non-verbal communication within each group
  • Suitable for events which may put delegates outside their comfort zone