HR Management & Compliance

3 Ways to Make Classroom Space Work for You and Your Trainees

In yesterday’s Advisor, we learned about innovative classroom activities as well as points for better PowerPoint® presentations. Today, we get tips from another training expert on how to make the best use of classroom space.

What do you think? Can a training space impact the effectiveness of classroom-based training? Guila Muir, who is principal of Guila Muir and Associates (, thinks so, and offers these tips to help ensure that “your physical space works for you, not against you.”
First, “it’s important to be clear on your philosophy of teaching and learning and to ensure that your actions support it,” says Muir. For example, consider the seating arrangement. If all of the chairs face the front of the classroom, “the message is clear: You are the only source of information. You may find it difficult to stimulate interaction between participants when they are looking at each other’s backs.”
If you are aiming to have learners interact with one another, plan on using round tables, a “U” shaped setup, or rectangular tables pushed together so that learners can easily engage in conversation, she suggests. “Make sure that your room setup supports, not contradicts, your goals.”

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Second, she advises against making assumptions about the physical space and, instead, setting up the room yourself, if possible. She also recommends visiting the room the night before your training session—or at least 1 hour before it begins—to address any potential problems.
“Where are the electrical outlets? How will their location affect your setup? Is the room long and narrow? (If so, try to set it up widthwise instead of lengthwise.) Where is the screen? What happens when you turn the lights on or off? Are you able to change the room temperature? If using a microphone or speaker system, familiarize yourself with how they work.”

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Third, Muir says trainers should practice in the room where the training will take place—at least the first 3 to 5 minutes of the session. “Check the acoustics. Does the room absorb your voice, or can it carry with ease? Walk around the area from which you will present. What parts of the room could be blocked from view? Remember that all participants must be able to see you at all times.”

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