Here’s my top 10 wish list for a space to support a group to think, work and play together. The recipe can be adjusted to suit group size and proposed activities.
1 natural light – preferably large windows looking out to a natural landscape. Note to venue providers – rooms without windows do not contribute to the well being of a group spending the day (or days) together.
2 flat ‘useful’ wall and/or other space for display - lots of it. Useful means people can write and draw on paper taped to the walls without damaging them. Non‑electronic whiteboards, flip chart easels or windows can act as substitutes or complementary flat surfaces.
Note to venue providers – rooms with large paintings and other wall fixtures, flocked wallpaper and heritage painted surfaces are not purpose built for workshops.
3 furniture – able to be moved around – comfortable chairs – separate round tables – enough to suit numbers and workshop design.
4 good lines of sight Note to venue providers – if there are columns in your room, don’t offer it up as a workshop space.
5 room to move – room to walk around between tables – space for activities – a home base for the facilitator – and breakout areas either within the room or nearby.
6 temperature – fresh air and/or adjustable temperature control. An understanding of the likely temperatures and the aspect of the room.
7 sound – shared venues require sound-proof rooms. We don’t want to have to be quiet at all times. Good acoustics help everyone be heard from every part of the room.
8 equipment and technology – match the technology to the objectives and/or needs – eg power point locations, wi-fi, data projector, screening space (able to be removed when not in use).
9 venue services – food and refreshments – fresh light food – responsive to dietary needs – water available all day. clean facilities. And a contact person – available and responsive to the needs of the group and facilitator.
10 location – far enough away from workplaces so that participants can’t ‘just duck back to the office during the lunch break’ – good maps/directions – close to public transport and/or car parking as relevant.
What are your venue must haves?
Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney