Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video How to plan the room, part of Master Confident Presentations.
- So, you've thought about yourself and your appearance. The next thing to think about is the room layout. Where are you going to stand, and what should the audience layout kook like? So, there are probably four main audience layouts you can get. My favorite for groups up to about 20 is U-shape of tables. I like a U-shape because they can look at each other a little bit as well as just me. And also I can walk down it, the middle of the U, if I want to give out notes halfway through or whatever.
And it also gives me a certain amount of control over them if I walk around 'cause if you've got a big, long table, a board room table, the people at the far end can sort of chat and whisper, and it's hard to keep control of them if you've got more than about 10 people around the table. But a U-shape of tables you've got control over all of them. So that's my preferred audience layout, but I also like what they call cafe style. And this is a collection of tables, maybe five tables, but it can be up to, you know, 20, I suppose. It's usually about five tables, and then you have people sitting around the tables.
Now, you don't have them sitting all the way around the table because some of them would have their back to you. So you probably have about four or five people sitting around the far side of each table. And that's great for group work. They can work in groups, and then you can come back to the presentation. Any problem with cafe style is that often it ends up being quite wide. There's a table there, a table there, and a table there. So, I don't really know where to face, so I have to sort of walk around quite a lot. And if I've only got one screen, the people at the far end struggle to see the screen, but sometimes you have several screens, of course, and then cafe is great.
So you got U-shape, you got cafe. Sometimes you get classroom style, which is just rows of chairs, and that can be just a block of seats or it could actually be a kind of an auditorium. So the class room may be even banked. I don't like classroom so much because it's harder to be interactive with people. With bigger audiences, it has to be classroom, but a smaller audience I wouldn't want classroom style, really, but sometimes it's like that. And you can still be interactive, and you can chat to people, particularly the people on the front row, you can chat to them.
By the way, if you're putting out chairs, I usually put out slightly fewer chairs so that they have to fill up right to the front. And then, as more people arrive, I pull out a few more chairs as if to say, "oh my god, so many people have arrived to my tour! "More people than I was expecting!" 'Cause if you've got loads of chairs and you end up with a few empty ones, the empty ones will be at the front. And it sort of looks bad, as if, you know, you haven't sold all the tickets type of feeling. So that's a little tip, put some chairs away, bring them back out again.
You can just have a U-shape of chairs. I prefer tables because I think people feel a bit vulnerable if they don't have a table. And also if they're going to write notes and things, but you can just have U-shape of chairs, that's the other option. Now, just thinking a bit more about room layout, sometimes you have a problem with a very wide room or a very long room, and both of those are a problem. Really, you want kind of square-shaped. If the room's really long, you're going to have people way at the back who perhaps can't hear you, can't see the screen, and you may lose control of them.
They might start chatting amongst themselves and things. And if you've got a very wide room, as I mentioned earlier with the cafe style, then it can be a problem because they can't all see the screen or the flip chart. So, if you can have a fairly square room, that's better, but sometimes it's unavoidable. And then, there's the question of where are you going to stand? Because obviously you don't want to block the screen, and you don't want to block the screen for anyone. So, ideally, if my audience are where you are and that's the screen, then I would be off to the side looking at the screen like that.
So I would be sort of diagonally so I can see them and the screen. So that's ideally how I would be. So, you need to think about where are you going to stand. Maybe you have to move some tables out of the way and that sort of thing. And, just a final thought is don't block the door either. So, quite often I arrive to do a training day, and there's a big long table and there's a door at one end. And I've got the choice of which end of the table should I put it? And I always put the flip chart at the end away from the door so that people come in the door, and then there's the table and there's me behind the table.
Because then they don't feel trapped. I don't want them to feel if they to nip out to the loo or whatever, they have to get to past me and my flip chart. It feels like I've captured them. And also, you don't want to have interruptions if someone does have to go to he loo. They need to be able to just go out the back. So, ideally, you wouldn't be by the door or blocking the door. So, there are some thoughts about audience layout.
- Kick-starting your presentation
- Building in a memorable ending
- Knowing your audience
- Overcoming nerves
- Practicing your presentation
- Using the right body language
- Interacting with the audience
- Working with PowerPoint