The arrangement of chairs needs care. The seating influences the conversation. It gives the workshop room tune, color, and rhythm.

As facilitator of learning events I always have a plan how I want people to sit. Even for a 1-hour workshop I think about chairs and tables (and I am often happy to get rid of the tables – even though participants love them for many reasons…). Arranging chairs is like framing. A well thought programme matters, so does the room.

BLOG 60 power of chair

The facilitator’s dream @nanadia

To me as facilitator the room setting and especially the seats are my allies. The arrangement of the chairs gives a strong message before even a word is spoken. People entering a room full of small coffee tables expect exchange and conversation. The chairs are talking:  We will listen. We will ask some questions. We will talk. We will have many conversations.

If tables and chairs are unmovable – a facilitator’s nightmare – creative trouble shooting is needed. Nancy White and Lucie Lamoureux shared some ideas in the last KM4dev journal. I love the radical idea without chairs!

Try to move the people around instead! Use shorter process cycles with a lot of standing up and circulating. You can even send people out in small groups for “walking/talking” sessions.
Nancy White and Lucie Lamoureux

What do you think about chairs?

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