How do you arrange a room so that the audience receives maximum benefit from the instructional style? Thats a big challenge for the speaker and the audience and I discussed this before in my post The Best Seats in the House. Let me tell you about an experience that has made me think about this again.
Last month on tour I had two audiences of about fifty people in two quite different rooms. The audiences heard the same presentations using the same powerpoint presentation, and the same speaker, (of course). In the first one, my friend Dr. Jack Sevy suggested we re-arrange the room. We removed ten or twelve chairs, and the seats were arranged theatre style with a center aisle. Participants sat close to each other, and there were very few empty chairs even on the front row. All had a good view of the screen where the powerpoint was showing. I was given a microphone that hung around my neck and it allowed me to move around.
The second venue was a similar large room but the setup was different. Here the participants sat classroom style, three at a table and spread out all over the room. No one sat close to anyone, really. And the mic was a standup mic that could be carried around in hand.
Dr. Sevy predicted that when people are sitting closer, they would feel better, less isolated, and my lecture would be better received. Now, I cannot isolate all the variables, but personally I felt the one Dr. Jack arranged the seating for worked better for me and the participants.
But why obsess over details like this? I truly believe that learning is directly impacted by the environment. Dr. Jack's search for group harmonics– sit close, but comfortable and feel you are with people who care- makes some sense. Thanks Doc.
You can check out Dr. Sevy's real interest at www.chiromoms.com. I'm trying to make a good genealogist out of a chiropractor. Its a challenge.
What are your thoughts?