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Optimise Your Room Setup

Training Room Setup

How to Setup Your Training Room for Success

If your seating arrangement and overall room setup aren’t aligned with the design of the training session, you are starting from a position of weakness.

On this page, we will describe the core principles to factor into your room setup choices. We then offer an in-depth view of several popular options and point out the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Core Principles for Choosing a Seating Setup

Before we dig into the many seating styles available, let’s first review the high-level principles which will guide your choices.

  • Comfort — Are learners able to participate fully while facing forward? Or do they need to constantly twist around? Is there enough room for them to get to their seat easily? Will they be bumping into one another constantly? If they are comfortable, they can focus and listen.
  • Sight lines — Can learners see the instructor? The slides and demonstrations? Each other? Clear sight lines allow your learners to absorb the visual component, whether it be something on the screen, body language, or anything else.
  • Utility — Is a surface provided for using a laptop, taking notes, practice exercises, etc? You want your learners to be active learners, so give them space to do it.
  • Proximity — Are learners relatively close to the screen, the instructor, and each other? Or is it sparse seating? Too far apart drains energy from the room, but too close can be uncomfortable.
  • Compatibility — Is the layout of the room and the seating arrangement optimal for the style of training being offered? Does it support group discussions?

These five principles will be our focus as we tour many popular seating styles available for your room.

Chevron Style Seating Setup

Chevron style seating (or V-shaped seating) is when tables are arranged in a series of angular patterns relative to one another, with seating on one side so that every chair is oriented optimally to face the screen or instructor. In narrow rooms, tables might be arranged in true “V”-shapes; in wider rooms, tables might be arranged with a central “wing” connecting the two ends of the “V”, like this: \_/ .

Advantages

  • Everyone faces the screen and instructor, so nobody has to twist their chair. Note-taking or using a laptop is thus comfortable for everyone.
  • Many learners are now able to make full or partial eye contact with each other, promoting group discussion.
  • Relatively high density (similar to Classroom seating).
  • Individual tables support small-group exercises.
 

Disadvantages

  • While some large group discussion is supported, it isn’t ideal because some people are still looking at the backs of other people’s heads.
 

Best for…

  • Training sessions which are designed to emphasise slide content, but also want to incorporate some group discussion.
Training Room Chevron

Classroom Style Seating Setup

Classroom style seating is a series of tables (or desks) and chairs arranged in parallel rows, all facing toward the front of the room.

Advantages

  • Tables (or desks) provide space for laptops, note-taking, and personal items.
  • The highest density of any seating arrangement involves tables or desks.
 

Disadvantages

  • Poor sight lines for people sitting near the front corners.
  • The angle of seats and tables requires some audience members to twist their bodies to face the speaker or screen.
  • Audience members have essentially zero eye contact with each other, making discussions inconvenient and unlikely.
 

Best for…

  • Training sessions where most audience members are repeating on their computer what the instructor is demonstrating
  • Taking notes or using laptops, and where most of the information flows from the instructor to the audience.
Training Room Classroom

Boardroom Style Seating Setup

Boardroom style seating is a single large table (or several smaller tables butting up against one another) surrounded by chairs on both sides. The most common shape is rectangular, but variations include both circular or square tables.

Advantages

  • Lots of eye contact between learners promotes discussion.
  • Tables allow for laptops, note-taking, and personal items.
 

Disadvantages

  • The sight lines to view slides for many learners, particularly those at the “far end”.
  • Even worse sight lines from learners to see the instructor, who must either stand to the side (not good) or sit (worse).
  • Multi-tasking (e.g. using a laptop while viewing slides or the presenter) requires lots of body twisting.
 

Best for…

  • Small groups focused on discussion and making decisions.
Training Room Boardroom

U-Shaped Style Seating Setup

U-shaped style seating is a series of tables forming three sides of a square or rectangle, with seating arranged around the outside. In this arrangement, all seats face the middle of the “U” shape.

Advantages

  • Clear sight lines (both learner-to-instructor and learner-to-learner) encourage large group discussions.
  • The instructor can walk into open space within the “U”; this creates a unique dynamic because they are “immersed” within the audience.
 

Disadvantages

  • Tends to lead to very low density seating, and thus requires a larger room for the same size audience.
  • Audience members at the “bottom” of the “U” are seated a large distance from screen, leading to several bad results: [a] readability of slides or flip charts is reduced, [b] participants are more easily distracted, and [c] participants are more likely to lose focus.
  • Audience members in the “corners” can feel relatively isolated.
 

Best for…

  • Training sessions which are designed to emphasise large group interactions.
Training Room U Shape

Theater/Auditorium  Style Seating

Theater style seating is a series of chairs arranged in parallel rows, all facing forward to the front of the room. No tables are provided. Most large lecture theaters and movie theaters are arranged this way.

Advantages

  • Allows high-density seating; that is, for a given room size, theater style seating maximizes the potential audience size.
  • Because audience members are close to each other and the speaker, this arrangement tends to maximize the energy in the room.
 

Disadvantages

  • No surface on which to place laptops, writing pads, food, or any other items.
  • Poor sight lines for people sitting near the front corners and, in very large rooms, people sitting toward the back and along the sides.
  • Angle of seats may require some audience members to “twist” their body to face the speaker or screen.
  • May be cumbersome to get to seats, depending on locations of walking aisles.
  • Less overall comfort (i.e. hot, stuffy) due to high density.
  • Audience members have essentially zero eye contact with each other, making discussions inconvenient and unlikely.
 

Best for…

  • Presentations for large audiences where the information flow is one-way (from presenter to audience)
  • Best for seminar and remote webinar with a duration of less then 90 minutes.
Training Room Seminar

What is the Best Seating Arrangement?

It depends! There’s no single seating arrangement that works best for all training.

We generally prefer chevron style seating for the courses, because it offers the best blend of comfort and flexibility to support the content that we deliver.

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