Training Room Layout: How to Set up a Room for a Class or Workshop

file000707690954How tables and chairs are arranged in a classroom or conference room is dependent on how the content will be delivered to workshop or course participants.

There are many ways to set up a training room for a workshop. Different set-ups allow for different types of learning. To maximize the learning, consider how the room set-up will allow for interaction and learning.

The following set-ups include 7 rectangular tables, 12 participant chairs, 1 presenter chair and a screen. While the presenter has a chair, it is recommended to be used when the participants are involved in an activity i.e. it is not for presenting from a seated position.  The following illustrations demonstrate some common training room set-up examples.



Traditional Classroom

This tried and true training room layout has its advantages if the participants will be doing individual work or work in pairs. Arrange small tables in a row with 2 seats per desk or create long rows of tables with chairs on one side of the row facing the presenter.




boardroom-set-upBoardroom Set-up

Placing rectangular tables up against each other to create a large rectangular table and then arranging the seats around the perimeter is called a boardroom set-up. The shape can also take the form of a solid or hollow square. This set up is ideal when the participants need to act as one group to make decisions and discuss content. The facilitator can be placed at one end or in the middle of the longer side.



u-shaped-or-horseshoe-room-set-up2U Shaped or Horseshoe

Setting up the tables to create a large U shape or horseshoe allows all participants to be able to see the presenter at all times. This training room layout is great when an instructor is demonstrating a process or is using visual aids. The tables provide a writing surface for note taking. Handouts can be easily distributed and breaking the group into pairs or dividing the participants into 2 large groups can be facilitated with this set-up.



theatre-set-upTheater Set-up

This set up does not include tables. Chairs only are arranged for viewing a lecture or visual aid. Chairs can be arranged lining up in rows or in a chevron (a wide V) to increase participant visibility. Typically this set-up is used when you have a large participant group.




pod-room-set-upBreakout, Pods or Cabaret Style

Typically tables are arranged in small squares or rectangles with 4-6 seats around them. Sometimes small round tables are used but chairs are placed half way around the table so that participants backs are not to the presenter. This layout is ideal for a highly active training style where a majority of the content will be delivered through group work.




Consider the training delivery style when choosing a room set-up:

  1. Participants need a writing surface. Avoid a theater classroom set up.
  2. Participants will be working in small groups. A breakout or pod training room set-up will allow for small groups to work on tasks, games or discussions.
  3. Participants will only be listening to a lecture, watching a video, presentation or demo. Theater or U shaped is your best bet.

What is your favorite classroom arrangement? What room set-up is most conducive to learning for a workshop or course? Please respond with a comment below.

Copyright 2007, Updated 2015 and 2016 Joni Rose of Career Minded Consulting Services. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized use will constitute an infringement of copyright. Please contact Joni Rose for reprint permission.

Originally posted on on May 12th, 2007

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