Presentation Skills – Setup Your Meeting Room For Success

What sabotages your speech before you even start? What causes your audience to tune you out? What creates a huge obstacle for even a great speaker? The answer is: the wrong meeting room setup.

Different room layouts create different group dynamics. Choose the right layout and have a successful speech or training session. Here are the recommended room setups for various group sizes and presentation types.

For an interactive training session with 10-30 people:

Use several small round tables with 3-5 people each. I use this room layout when I need maximum interactivity. It is great for exercises, role-plays and simulations.

It allows participants to network with each other. It builds relationships and boosts morale. When I was training managers to coach their employees, this layout built teamwork and trust in the group.

For a brainstorming session or focus group of 6- 12 people:

Use a boardroom setup with a single table surrounded by chairs. When I was Manager of Training at Telus Mobility, I used this room setup for planning sessions. This layout encourages group discussions.

It is great for short (less than 2-hour long) meetings. Keep in mind that certain seats (such as the head of the table) garner more “power” and confer a higher status. Make sure you are sitting in one of these “power seats” if you are the discussion leader.

For a keynote speech with audiences of 30+ people:

Use a “theater” style setup with a shallow “V” shape. This is a classic setup for large audiences. It focuses all the audience attention upon you as the speaker. Have the chairs arranged in a slight inverted “V” shape. You want both arms of the “V” angled toward you onstage. That makes it easier for people sitting at the side of the room to see you. Otherwise, they would have to turn their heads awkwardly to see you onstage.

This layout works well for short (45 minute) lectures. However, it limits your ability to run interactive exercises or role-plays. It is better suited to lectures rather than training sessions.

So, choose the right meeting room setup and maximize your chances of a successful speech or training session.

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

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