Learning & Development

Ask the Trainer: Physical Space

A: Content physical space where training takes place can influence how effective training is; yet many trainers do not take that into consideration when designing and delivering training, says Jill Greenbaum, Ed.D., coach, speaker, and author (www.icoachidesign.com).

Ideally, trainers should know during the design phase where the training will occur and how many learners will participate, Greenbaum says, so trainers can plan how to make the most of the space and enhance learning.

She prefers that training take place off-site to minimize interruptions and help learners focus. When training is conducted in the office, she says learners sometimes wander back to their workstations or are called on to address a work-related issue. “That, to me, is a real challenge.”

A big, open training space or room that comfortably holds 20 to 25 people gives trainers flexibility in setting up chairs and tables and enables the trainer to move around easily, she says. Greenbaum prefers grouping learners together in teams of five or six to create an inclusive, collaborative environment, rather than using a “traditional 1950s classroom” setup with rows of chairs.

She says the training space should have “plenty of wall space” for visual aids, etc. It should also have windows because brain research shows that natural lighting helps people focus better and stay mentally fresh.

Trainers can make the designated area more conducive to learning by putting learners’ needs before their own. “If learners are the most important, you look at the environment differently,” she says. For example, instead of focusing on getting a podium for the front of the room, Greenbaum says trainers should focus on what they can do to create a comfortable, inviting environment for learners. That might include serving healthy snacks and playing instrumental music quietly in the background, which she says energizes learners and helps them relax so that they can learn difficult concepts and skills.