Neatness Counts

Now I’m not the neatest guy in the world. As a matter of fact, you know that person in the office that always has a clean desk? that’s not me. As far as my desk goes I use a “piling” system – a pile for important stuff and another pile for the stuff I’m working on. The system is somewhat problematic but that remedy is for a separate discussion. Right now I’m talking about classroom organization and appearance.

As haphazard as I am at my personal workspace I am equally precise with my classroom organization. I believe it’s absolutely critical to present a neat and well organized atmosphere especially when students first enter the training space.

Here’s some of the things I do:

  • Whiteboard is clean, I mean spit-shined, actually, I use whiteboard cleaning fluid with a microfiber cloth.
  • Instructor station is ready, presentation system ready, that means tested and functioning as needed. There’s nothing worse than fumbling with AV equipment during student time.
  • Arrange the desks and chair in a symmetrical fashion – chairs are pushed in all the way and are centered on the student workspace.
  • Limit visible cables to the extent possible – cables that cannot be hidden are the same color and are routed in the shortest, safest path possible. When we added fabric skirts to our student tables the change was dramatic, a much more professional look.
  • Layout student materials in an identical fashion at each student workspace – this where I pay most attention. Each pen, pencil, and highlighter are positioned the same and the student book is laid down face up centered on the closed laptop with its edge flush to the facing edge of the computer.

When a student enters a training space that is clean, well-prepared and visually pleasing they may not say anything, but they will recognize that the instructor is organized, prepared, ready to teach and ready to receive students.


In reality, it does not take much more time to arrange materials, in military parlance, “dress-right-dress” yet the impact whether conscious or subliminal will be positive.

I realize that this level of precision is not possible in all cases, especially if you have a mobile training class and have little control of the venue. If you have control of your space consider spending a bit of extra time letting your inner OCD take over, it will pay off with a great first impression in the student’s mind and your training will run more smoothly. Also, it’s easier for you to visually recognize exceptions or omissions when every student position is identical.

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