Author Profile Picture

Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


Read more from Heather Townsend

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

What are your ‘essentials’ and ‘nice-to-have’s’ for a training room


I'm about to embark on a exciting project to design my own layout for a training centre. (How cool is that!) The plan is to design a training room for trainers, without compromises.

Very rarely, do trainers get the luxury of being able to design the ultimate in a training room - normally there is some kind of compromise involved, so the room can be used for other things.

In your view, if you are booking a venue, what must the venue be able to provide, and what are nice-to-haves?

If you want some inspiration, this is Mike Morrison's view of the perfect training room. Where do you agree with him? What's he forgotten?

Having read some of the websites of training venues, it's interesting to see what a venue thinks are 'features' worth shouting about.

For example, am I alone in think that being provided with paper and pens is a feature to shout about?

What's your thoughts?

14 Responses

  1. a few low-tech thoughts

    1. A clock on the wall….where the trainer can see it so not behind the trainer/above the screen/directly in line of sight of all the delegates.

    2. the point for the trainers laptop (if you are using a laptop) with a cable that is long enough so that the computer doesn’t have to be directly between the delegates and the screen

    3. chairs that don’t result in butt-paralysis in the delegates

    4. an aircon/heating system with the control inside the Bl***y training room, rather than on the other side of a stud partition wall.

    5. an aircon system that doesn’t drown out all conversational speech requiring everyone in the room to yell as though they are very aggressive

    6. a training room that has adequate space for the delegates to break into groups and work in syndicate without having to go to another floor in the building/across the carpark/in the carpark

    7. a hot drinks machine that is capable of a) being operated by someone who doesn’t have a degree in astrophysics b) dispensing more than three cups of coffee/tea/hot chocolatein a fifteen minute break c) not running out of water in mid course

    8. an adequate supply of marker pens….and, if there is a white board AND flipcharts, pens that are clearly marked as either permanent or water soluble.

    9. a trainer operated remote control chop-o-matic in the ceiling that can be used to decapitate any delegate who thinks that they are soooooo important that the polite request to turn off their mobile phone doesn’t apply to them (no, I’m only joking about this one, really)

    10. two doors; one behind/beside the trainer at the front of the room, and one behind the delegate seating area.

    Seriously….in my 20 odd years experience I have noticed that the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) always have their dedicated training rooms furnished with armchairs/sofas and coffee tables only….it is quite an amazing dynamic as a trainer when you and your delegates are looking as if you are sitting around in a hotel reception area rather than a more traditional training room.

    I hope this helps and good luck with your amazing mission….do let us know how it all goes


    PS free paper and pens is not something to shout about…..write about perhaps!

  2. Wot I want for Christmas is…

    Lucky you! A few things on my wish list would be:

    – A flexible layout which is easy to reconfigure for different styles of training event. It should include the capacity to give each delegate writing space.

    – Simple and effective environmental controls (heating or aircon) that a trainer can figure out how to use in a few seconds.

    – Flexible lighting such that different levels can be set and, where necessary, the trainer’s end of the room lit independently of the main body.

    – Effective and flexible window blinds that can be easily adjusted.

    – Flipchart and pens, with spare chart and pens to hand.

    – A stack of spare paper and pens/pencils

    – Wall coverings that can withstand flipchart pages being stuck on them (with blutack or something else).

    – A water cooler. Plus jug and glasses for trainer.

    – A phone along with clear access to good support – technical, admin and logistical.

    – Nearby access to a photocopier for quick copies of notes, syndicate work output etc.

    – Trainer internet access that doesn’t go through the company firewall so doesn’t need passwords etc.

    – Trainer PC power socket close by that doesn’t involve stretching a power cable across the walk space.

    – A really bright and clear projector or screen. Really bright…

    – If the room is to have delegate PCs, then leave plenty of space to allow the trainer to walk around behind the desks.

    And if you could swing it….

    A phone signal jammer!

    I usually find myself with some of these. Never all…



  3. Wot I want for Christmas..

    Thanks Russell and Graham,

    It seems like I can’t be the only trainer over the years who has suffered from badly lit, cramped training rooms.

    Like yourselves, I hate not being able to alter the air conditioning and feel physically ill if have to train in a room with no natural light for a whole day…

    I will take your thoughts into account, as myself and my business partner in this venture, need to be able to hire out the venue to cover the monthly rent & bills.

    Luckily, the proposed building is located in beautiful surroundings on a farm, with limited mobile phone signal (great!) and, if we get the design right, will have lots of lovely natural light and views over farm land.

    I will keep you informed of the ‘piggeries’ (working title!) training centre’s progress.

    Thank you for your thoughts.


  4. Wish list

    Just a couple of thoughts to add.

    When designing the room I would want to ensure that there were no internal windows through to a corridor or similar. I find it distracting, so no doubt the participants do as well, when people walk past and peer in. It is also offputting if you are doing energisers or relaxation exercises, too. You do need external windows, though, otherwise it is like working in a cell – I have been put in such training rooms in hotels and they are horrid!

    I would always ask for a couple of LARGE bins.

    And have the walls covered in a material that you can put blu-tak on.

    Good luick



  5. All I want as a Trainer is.


    I love the lists posted so far.

    Just have a few more for the wish list:

    Natural light. Nothing quite like emerging like a mole at the end of the day from a room where you have no idea whether it has been rain or shine outside.

    Good Sound Proofing. Not intended to sound scary, just that background noise from the group next door can be very distracting and thin walls can be an issue if you want to play music or do anything that creates any noise.

    Flexible furnishings. Furniture that can easily be folded away or stored to create flexible space is very helpful both for the trainer and for the venue owner.

    Break Out Areas. Areas where tea and coffee is on tap so no delays, places for chats and somewhere comfortable for lunch with good, healthy food. Quite often venues would like you to remain locked in your room for the whole day with refreshments and lunch parachuted in. A change of scenery is as good as a rest.

    Space. Often rooms are booked out on the basis of how many people can fit in rather than with consideration for the learning event and activities that will take place.

    Knowledgeable Staff. Staff with an understanding of learning and development and trainer’s needs would be fabulous. Hopefully this would avoid the too often ‘We’ve moved you to a different room’ (usually smaller, less suitable and because a better offer came in on the one we had originally.’)

    Photos and Information. Enough information and pictures available for the trainer to see whether the room will work for what they want to do, before they arrive and find out it won’t if they haven’t been able to view it in advance.

    Clear Instructions. Guides for trainers on essentials like fire procedures, things we need to know today, equipment in the room, heating and air con, lunch arrangements etc. Plus a who to call if it doesn’t work as advertised. Also an easy booking system to help trainers be clear about what they need.

    Access. Good easy access to avoid carrying heavy crates etc unnecessarily, preferably with automatic doors. Also rooms that can be made secure when unoccupied.

    Feedback. I have found that many venues do not actively seek feedback when a few small changes would make the world of difference to what they do.

    The above is based on what I have liked about venues used and also things I would very much liked to have had.



  6. Space

    I think a learning environment should be spacious, comfortable, relaxing, and something which doesnt remind me of a school classroom. 

  7. The Piggeries

    Sounds like an ideal location, but wait, think outside the room as well. Here is a list of other considerations

    • Adequate car parking, preferably not gravel
    • Level or ramped access for mobility imapired users
    • Wide doors,which also help when moving tables & equipment
    • A hearing loop or similar in the room
    • North light, avoiding unnecessary glare and shadows
    • WiFi access
    • Interactive whiteboard/s
    • A lockable box where ALL mobile phones are placed after being turned off
    • Plenty of room, if it is a piggery why not add a conservatory, useful as a breakout/rest room and plenty of natural light
    • Outside tables & chairs for use in better weather i.e. when it’s not raining
    • Trained first aider and kit to suit including a defibrilator
    • CD/DVD’s cut before the delegates go home
    • Enough toilets to cope
    • Plain simple food, I absoloutly hate being presented with food that sounds exotic and looks awful
    • Chocolate biscuits
    • A big box of tissues for life’s little accidents
    • Pencils and sharpeners for each delegate, pens don’t tend to work immediately
    • A swear box, for charity obviously
    • Good luck, and plenty of it
  8. Fior Adults (grownups)

    As Adult Learners gain by learning from each other I find a U or V layout of tables (with the trainer at the opening).

    Comfortable Chairs that swivel (so learners can look ar and interact with others to the side or behind them).

    Magnetic White Boards around the wall – so your learners can write on them, stick paper on them.

    Adequate power points (beneath the tables?)

    Good Lighting.





  9. Ideal room

    Many / all of the above.  Maybe for some courses a video camera set up to record people in action and the facility to present them with copies of their performance on DVD to take away at the end to reflect on.

    Space to move around if there are to be any physical activities.  Decent acoustics and the ability to control the room temperature.

  10. Ideal training space

    Lucky you – you are getting to act out one of my training fantasies – creating the ideal training venue! For what its worth, my personal top requirements are be as follows:

    Lots of natural light  – essential – I still can’t believe how many organisations/individuals seem to think its acceptable to work for long periods in a space wth no natural light – it has SUCH as negative impact on energy and concentration levels.

    Outdoor space –  Where possible I use the outdoors (weather permitting) for many activities as it completely changes the group energy and helps to give activities more impact. 

    Outdoor shelter – if there is room, a shelter for outdoor activities in bad weather (I’ve used a couple of centres which have a circular wooden bandstand type structure which is brilliant.)

    Countryside – I feel really strongly that a natural rather than urban environment is far more relaxing and therefore conducive to learning.

    Comfy chairs – self-explanatory! Plus the facility to have more comfy armchair-type seating in a circle with no tables.

    Lots of room for moving around/physical activities

    Facilities for sticking up flipcharts etc on the walls (either blu-tackability or those strips to clip papers onto)

    Light, healthy, energy food (not stodge-laden 3 course meals which make everyone want to blob out in the afternoon or boring sandwiches and deep-fried finger food), which meets ALL dietary needs without anyone needing to feel "different" or awkawrd because of their dietary requirements.

    High ceilings (partly for the feeling of airy spaciousness, but also for doing activities which involve reaching, stretching, throwing  etc)

    Sufficient break-out spaces (rooms, lounge areas, outdoor sheltered space etc) for groups to be able to work out of ear/eyeshot of each other.

    Provision of on table nibbles such as grapes, dried fruit, nuts etc rather than sugary boiled sweets or mints! (I usually always have to take these along mysefl but it would be great if venues supplied them – one less thing to carry)

    I’ve just realised that this has turned into quite a long posting, so I’d better stop now, but look forward to hearing more about the Piggeries when its ready.

    Good luck and best wishes






  11. Tech stuff

    Lucky you – money no object!

    I would have a ceiling mounted projector as well as a ceiling mounted screen (remote control so you can get rid of it when you’re sick of Powerpoint!)

    I would also have a large flat screen that can be used as a monitor for the laptop or for playing DVDs etc.

    There are hi-tech whiteboards as well that can produce handouts of what you have written

    Ditto to everyone on the phone thing – I’ve had that scenario today.

    Enough electrical sockets close enough to the table so I don’t need to drag my extension cable everywhere I go!

    Modular tables that can easily be moved around as the exercise/course demands.


  12. ideal training room

     I do a lot of practical skills training and often end up needing to discuss a point using Powerpoint or similar with delegates scattered around the room. Also why stick wit a projector with it’s inherent problems of noise heat generation etc and singular direction. Plus ideally you need to be able to see what you are projecting without turning your back on the group. 

    I would like to do away with the projector and screen in favour of a large plasma / LCD screen on each wall (so can be seen from anywhere in the room by anyone without needing to twist the necks and the image can also be seen by the trainer from anywhere in the room. The PC can then be placed against the wall so eliminating the need for any trailing cables and as an added bonus the sound always comes from the image and NOT from a pair of disconnected speakers.

    Rest of the walls should be magnetic whiteboards and natural light from above to eliminate / reduce reflections.

    oh well must stop this wishful thinking and come back to reality.








  13. Ideal training room

    Apart from agreeing with all that has been said. In my fantasy the perfect training room would be enclosed in a tardis like bag that I could open and hey presto the perfect training room would emerge (a bit like a pop up book). The reason being is that I work for a small charity and do a lot of training out in small community group venues were apart from tables and chairs ( and sometimes an ancient flipchart!)everything has to be brought in. In my dreams…. 

  14. more practical tips

    Think carefully about furniture.  Before you buy any take a look at the empty space(s) and see what you easily fit in… think conference ‘carbaret’, U with tables, without, board room, etc, etc.  Next think about what you are going to do with ‘extra’ furniture when using one of the other layouts… need storage! 


    TABLES  Make sure they are flexible, can be flattened and have wheels.

    CHAIRS  However comfortable they are think stackable!

    BLINDS  Blackout is a must for running video, etc, contemplation events and the like



Author Profile Picture
Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!