Picture the scene: the room, which you haven't been able to check out before, has a low ceiling, tiny windows that somehow don't manage to let in much light, and is decorated in shades of brown and purple. There are uplighters on the walls, which have large strategically placed paintings screwed to them. And, of course, you have been told that under no circumstances can blu-tack be used on the rough-textured wallpaper. The top table sits in front of the roll-away screen, which is faulty so it won't in fact roll away. There is a plinth with all sorts of technology attached, which cannot be moved.
The room is very hot and there are no heating controls. And the windows don't open.
This isn't what you expected, when you designed your day-long interactive, non-hierarchical workshop which relies heavily on being able to display multiple flips.
Sometimes a room is your friend: flexible, light, with expanses of working walls and a positive atmosphere. And sometimes it's just horrible.
And we learn work-arounds: tacking to woodwork, windows, picture frames; pinning things to curtains; throwing the doors open. Even drawing pictures of windows and the great outdoors and posting them up, to bring some hint of daytime into the room.
Designing the ideal
But if I could conjure up my ideal venue, it would have easily accessible outdoor space with chairs and tables in arbours dotted around within easy reach through the french windows in the main room. There would be fruit, water and a variety of hot drinks on tap all day, in a relaxing space with sofas and armchairs. There would be a great veggie buffet at lunch.
The main room would be spacious with furniture which is easy to move and stack. The walls would be smooth and white, with a surface that you can use blu-tack on without fear of it falling down or leaving marks. The room would be big enough to hold all the participants cabaret style AND still leave room for break-out spaces around the edges. No pillars would obscure anyone's vision. Large windows would fill the room with light, except when we need dark because something is being projected from the ceiling-mounted projector which can swivel around to project in any direction!
And the venue staff... Ah, the venue staff would be sunny, positive, accommodating and calm.
The whole place would be accessible to those who need to use wheelchairs or sticks or extra help with seeing or hearing. It would also be accessible to people who want to arrive by bike, train or bus.
Is it too much to ask?
Over to you!
What are your pet likes and dislikes? Which are your favourite venues and why? Which should we avoid at all costs?
Free download: I have a handout on choosing venues, which I share with clients. You can download it here.