Additional Layout Considerations F19

Other important things to consider when choosing a room setup are the formal vs. informality of the session, the level of participant involvement desired in activities and the group dynamics you desire to achieve. Various room setups encourage different group interactions.  Consider the possibilities and drawbacks of each setup.

The setup should take advantage of the shape of the room. If the room is a long and narrow shape, it should be set up so that you will be situated in the middle of a long side. If the room is square, the middle of any wall will do. (Always consider the availability of electrical outlets.) A rectangle is the optimal shaped room for training.

In all rooms, try to avoid having windows behind the area where you will stand when you present unless there are drapes to block the windows. The light can be uncomfortable or blinding to participants or cause them to lose concentration as they gaze into the distance outside the training room and begin to watch the deer and the antelope play. Also check to be sure that any other windows will not wash out the screen.

Trainers must make sure that all participants are able to see the screen, flip-charts and any other visual aids. Remember to print clearly on flip-charts, using large letters with dark markers, so those participants in the back of the room can easily read the information. Meeting room locations often have rules governing the use of wall space. Some venues permit the use of Post-it charts on the walls while others do not. Some places may even allow you to temporarily remove their wall art to provide wall space for group work. Remember that you must get permission for this in advance. Many venues provide a list of rules which will guide you in this and other provisions they want you to follow while using their facility.

Just as it is important that participants be able to see you, they must also be able to hear you. If you are presenting in a rectangular shaped room, speaking from the middle of one of the long sided walls will help your voice be distributed more evenly. Remember you will always need to project in order to be heard.  If there is a microphone available, it is best to use it. Presenters often ask if participants can hear them without the microphone, but there may be participants who do not feel comfortable saying they can’t hear if they feel that everyone else can. Also, a participant may not want to call attention to the fact that they have a hearing disability. In addition, a presenter’s voice may tend to fade as the training progresses and it can become more difficult for all participants to hear, especially those seated toward the back of the room.  If you tend to be soft-spoken, you may want to consider purchasing a portable microphone. As well as ensuring that you are heard, this can help protect your vocal cords!  Once you have found a general room arrangement that works for you, (including work and display tables as well as participant’s seating arrangement) it is a handy idea to have copies made, as training site staff will sometimes offer to set up the room for you if you can provide them with a general floor plan in advance.