Photo by: jraffin via Pixabay
In 2015, I moved from Toronto to Atlanta, away from my friends and family. Moving to a new country felt intimidating and exciting, all at the same time. As I started this new chapter, I initially felt out of place. Amazingly, with time, it felt like home. As I got more comfortable, my friends and family became more curious to see my new life in Atlanta. And so, it began. A wave of visitors to Atlanta. Uh oh, I’m back to feeling intimidated and excited all over again!
As I would prepare for their arrival, I was thankful I had a checklist: fresh sheets, clean towels, closet and drawer space, fresh flowers, magazines, basket of toiletries, and a welcome gift. Martha Stewart has nothing on me! Did I mention I’m a bit of a perfectionist? I want my guests to feel welcome, comfortable, and relaxed. And isn’t that also what we strive for when we’re conducting a training session?
As a corporate trainer, I take the same care and attention when I prepare the room for a workshop. I want everything to be perfect for my participants. I want my learners to feel welcome, comfortable, and relaxed—just as if I were welcoming them into my own home. Depending on the workshop I’m delivering, we may be spending anywhere from one to five days together, and that’s a significant amount of time.
Typically, it takes me a couple of days to prepare my home before guests arrive. Similarly, I need time to prepare my training room. I don’t need a couple of days. A couple of hours is usually enough. I always prefer to set up my room the day BEFORE the workshop begins. I remember one time I was unable to get into my room until midnight. Guess what? That’s exactly what I did. I chose to stay up late the night before, rather than rush in the morning. Knowing my room was ready to go allowed me to get a good night’s sleep, even if it was just a few hours
During this preparation time, I always use Langevin’s checklist which highlights the top 15 tips to set up my training room:
- Remove clutter from previous courses (e.g. used flipchart pages).
- Remove all unnecessary materials, supplies, furniture and equipment.
- Check the temperature, lighting, ventilation, noises, and disturbances.
- Try all light switches, power outlets, fan switches, etc.
- Create a list of all materials, supplies, and equipment you’ll need.
- Check all learner supplies such as manuals, note paper, pens, and name cards.
- Lay out your equipment and materials, in proper sequence, where they will be needed.
- Check all equipment (e.g. multimedia projector) to ensure it is functioning properly.
- Adjust the settings on all equipment.
- Consider comfort and participation when setting up seating.
- Check sight lines to ensure your learners can see your job aids from all seats and angles.
- Familiarize yourself with the locations of washrooms, coffee stations, fire exits, and message center.
- Arrange for 30-35 sq. ft. per person of space.
- Provide tables with 4-6 sq. ft. of table area, per person, to give the learners enough space to write.
- Use table layouts that maximize interaction and allow the most eye contact (e.g. round tables).
Whether you’re preparing for guests at home, or for participants in the training room, it doesn’t have to be complicated or a laborious task. With a good checklist to follow, you’ll manage both like a pro!
For even more tips and techniques to make your training a great experience for your learners, check out our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop!
Langevin Alumni, what do you do to prepare your training room for your learners?
This article was first published April 3, 2017.