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Setting Up For Success: Classroom Prep

So you’ve planned a dynamo instructional design for your upcoming training session, but now it’s 15 minutes before the session starts and your overhead projector is obstructing your view, your markers are dried out, and when you turn the flip chart for a clean sheet, you discover there’s no more paper. All your careful prep just went down the drain. Your session will be a disaster.

In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” To achieve success, you must set yourself up for success—and that means setting up your classroom so that it is fully equipped and ready to go at least 15 minutes prior to the start of your session. The Bob Pike Group follows a standard setup for all our Creative Training Techniques® seminars. To create a learning environment that maximizes the impact of your presentation, we suggest the following:                                            

  • Set up your classroom so the entrance is in the back. This will minimize distractions if people come in late or need to briefly step out.
  • Position the projector at a diagonal to give everyone a clear view, no matter where they’re sitting.
  • Tables should be round and 72” in diameter, with chairs arranged around them in half rounds. Seating your learners this way will make them feel immediately comfortable and part of a group.
  • We advise putting out fewer chairs than you think you need in order to prevent some tables from having too few participants and to avoid classroom clutter that might impede energizing exercises. Keep extra chairs in stacks for convenient access should you need to add more seats.
  • For your flipchart, use graphed paper with light blue 1” squares. It makes it easier to draw lines and charts, and to write in even lines across the pad. Don’t forget to stock plenty of fresh markers!

While these best practices for general room setup will take you far, it is important to keep your audience size in mind when planning classroom design. In some cases, it may be necessary to adapt this standard setup to accommodate larger or smaller class sizes or it might be that alternate table shapes/sizes or seating arrangements would better facilitate learning. The good news is that there are plenty of creative and dynamic ways to arrange your classroom, and with practice you will become an expert judge of which to use.

Compared to the time and effort you invest in planning your instructional design, setting up your classroom is easy. But it can make or break your training session. Don’t let a sloppy setup sabotage you before you even open your mouth. Set yourself—and your learners!—up for success by making sure your classroom is as prepared as you are.

Motivated to master a variety of different setups to make your classroom designs even more dynamic? Consider attending a two or three-day Train-the-Trainer Boot Camp, where you’ll learn how to maximize your training space for optimal impact, in addition to experiencing dozens of our other Creative Training Techniques® in action.


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