What are good standard poses for group shots of 3 or 4 people and how can I arrange folks so that they don't just look like they're 'standing around'?
Here's a couple of suggestions:
A classic approach is to arrange people so their faces form triangles. This is aesthetically pleasing.
another Example by ".eti"
A technique which is useful when you have lots ( > 4 or so) of people is to arrange them in subgroups, such that each sub-group works on its own, and arrange the sub-groups so that they link together somehow.
Example on Flickr here by "off the*deep*end".
Another example, also on Flickr. This one by "Sadie Collins"
Finally, putting the subject's heads close to each other builds interest. It makes them look connected. Here's an example where "Waechor"'s image works because the 3 girls' heads are close/touching.
Good luck. :)