When you are planning a training session or meeting, the layout of the training/seminar room can be just as important as its location. The layout of the room can set the tone and change the desired outcome of your meeting or training session. You just need to choose what that direction and outcome is going to be. Have you ever been in a meeting in a room that was in a different configuration from one you are accustomed to? Was that meeting or training session more or less effective than what you expected? That format was most likely planned to achieve the best results of what the meeting organizers were trying to accomplish.

Let us help you to understand the reasons for different training or meeting room layouts – so when you rent one from a business centre like Telsec, you will get what you need. It is important to let the business centre know the number of participants and the desired layout for your training session or meeting. But do not let the room layout be determined by the number of people. You have a desired goal – and if the business centre is not able to give you the layout you want for the number of people in the room you choose, ask for another room or find another facility.

Before we let you know some of the styles of the various types of meeting and training room configurations, you need to make some important decisions. You have to decide if and where you want the centre of attention, the interaction level between participants, and if you want layout to break off into groups easily.

Lecture or Theatre Style: This is the simplest style, reflecting the seating found in a theatre or cinema with chairs aligned in consecutive straight rows. If you have a large group of people for your training session or are making a presentation at a meeting, theatre style might be your best option. This layout suits a presentation style training session where attendees can sit and listen to what is being presented. The downside of this style of this set-up is that there is less participation between the presenter and the audience.

Classroom Style Layout: This style reflects the seating found in a school or lecture theatre, with chairs and trestle tables aligned in consecutive straight rows. This popular configuration for conferences and training sessions, allows people to listen to the trainer or speaker at the front of the room, as well as allowing note taking and laptop use due to the desks. However, it is also a good layout that allows students to break into groups and carry out interactive tasks.

U-shaped style: As the name suggests, this style is in the shape of the letter U, with the tables and chairs arranged in an open-ended configuration with the audience facing inwards. A U-shape configuration is ideal for training where the trainer can be in the middle of all the participants and interact with them much more effectively. If there is a presentation, it is easy for everyone to face forward while taking notes. Everyone can see each other, which makes it easy to have a discussion around topics mentioned during the training. The downside of this configuration is the inefficient use of floor space and reduced seating capacity.

Harrow Style: This style is a closed box version of the U-shape. However, there are four sides and no open end, with the audience all facing inwards from four sides. This style is also called Hollow Square Style.

Boardroom Style: Boardroom style is a large, elongated table with the audience all facing inwards. This configuration may be ideal for board meetings, but it is also great for brainstorming sessions, as everyone around the table can see each other and discuss ideas.

Now, it is your job to decide what configuration will work the best for the style of meeting or training session you want to have – and how you want your audience to interact. It is not just room layout that is important. It’s about matching the room layout with the trainer’s or presenter’s style, along with the material to be covered, and the required outcomes. Bottom line: The room shape and design can make or break an event.