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Why Room Setup for Training Matters

Room setup can greatly impact the effectiveness of your training sessions. Use these room setup tips to increase engagement and retention.

Published on 28 March, 2017 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Room Setup Can Affect Learner Engagement 1

Hundreds of preparation hours are poured into training sessions. Think of the time spent cueing up presentations, creating group exercises, and distributing print materials. But many overlook the simple parts of a training session. These simple parts can sometimes make big differences to the learning capacity of the participants. Sacrificing the setup of a training room in favor of the actual content.

This is understandable. A training session without valuable, powerful content isn’t much of a training session at all.

Yet, taking a few minutes to think about how the actual room should be set up in order to have a more productive session could take your training to the next level. So, what should you be adding to your list of preparations?

How Room Setup Impacts Learning

Check out all the ways that you can set up a training room to optimize attention, retention, control, and engagement during your next training session.

1. Attention

Setting up a training room carefully can make a big difference in making sure your audience stays attentive for the entirety of the session.

First, many participants will lose focus if they have to strain to hear or see the information. If visuals are too hard to see, too far away or too complicated to decipher, it will be tiresome for them. And a tiresome audience quickly switches off. Before you know it, you’ve lost your audience.

Multiple surfaces that can act as projectors means more visual angles for the audience, resulting in higher attention spans. This will increase the probability that your message is reaching every person more effectively.

Seat your audience carefully so that there aren’t too many gaps in the seats. This encourages the energy in the room to stay high so the focus is solely on you — the trainer. This also leaves little room for stragglers who are attempting to be invisible at the end of rows. An auditorium- or classroom-style seating arrangement can be useful when wanting to capture an audience’s attention for a fixed period of time. You can make eye-to-eye contact and address individuals directly. The downsides are that it can be slightly more formal and doesn’t encourage two-way communication.

Aesthetically speaking, ambient light can be much softer on the eyes and it reduces glare on computer screens if it is used. The harder it is for participants to focus, the more they’ll tire quickly. Once again, less fatigue is better.

2. Retention

Properly setting up the room beforehand can contribute positively to the retention rate of the information consumed by your attendees. If retention is one of your main goals (or if your subject matter is particularly dry or complicated), ensure that your presentation is catering to learners of all types — whether it be visual, audio, or kinesthetic. You’re bound to have a handful that respond well to each in the bunch.

Presenting ideas with a combination of the above in each key learning area will be crucial. Use interactive tools that combine video with sound and then demonstrate actions.

In many cases, you will want to engage participants in activity as well. If so, make sure that all participants can easily get involved without having to shift chairs along the floor, crane their necks, or have to turn continuously back and forth from the trainer to the groups. You may choose to opt for a horseshoe or U-shaped seating layout for these kinds of activities. All participants can see the presenter and visual aids very easily during presentation times. However, the formation is also flexible enough to split individuals into teams for group discussion and problem-solving.

Consider U Shaped Seating Arrangements for Your Training Room Setup

3. Control

Ideally, the trainer is in control from the beginning to the end of the training session in order to get the absolute most out of the time spent. This includes control over where participants are sitting, what direction they’re facing, and what information they’re seeing at any given time.

Carefully planning your room setup is a perfect way to achieve this refined control over your audience.

Without it, you could end up with the first three rows empty. And we’ve all attended those meetings with huge gaps of empty seats. It gives the feeling of inattention and encourages lower engagement of the participants.

Set up the room to fit your number of participants. Provide a seating chart. Control exactly how each individual will receive the necessary information in the best possible way. It can’t hurt and it will go a long way in keeping your learners engaged throughout the training session.

4. Engagement

An effective room layout will also actively encourage a higher engagement of participants and subsequently improve the conversion rate of your training points. When your message gets across more effectively, participants are more engaged in the message and work more effectively together on relevant tasks. Not to mention, everyone enjoys themselves that much more.

The Socratic classroom style may be a good choice if you’re looking to go for an engaging experience, where participants are seated in small groups of 4-6. Or, perhaps you could consider placing two individuals on a desk together with both facing the front of the room. Either arrangement is ideal for collaborative discussions, problem-solving and two-way communication. It facilities peer-to-peer learning and exploratory teaching.

Are there notepads and pens on the tables? Is there a flat surface that’s easy for participants to write on? Don’t forget the small stuff. Make it easy for participants to write something down should they want to. It’s an easy but classy touch that, once again, shows the audience how serious you are about the training session.

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