Monday, 15 February 2016

Business presenters know the folly of expensive basement developments

I have a prediction to make. In ten or twenty years time we are going to look back on the current craze for building big, expensive basements in our homes and ask: “what were we thinking”?

Why do I say this and what on earth has it got to do with my pet subject, Presentation Skills?

Well, some years ago I was asked by a training company to nominate my favourite feature for a meeting room in which people are going to spend a long time learning or doing business. “Plenty of natural light” was my unequivocal response, “there is nothing worse than sitting in a darkened room for a sustained period – you can feel the energy being sapped away progressively”.

Similarly, it’s simply not very nice living underground. That’s why the old TV series about gracious living was called ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’. I am reminded of this when visiting neighbours in their big Georgian houses overlooking the park. Some have put kitchens in their basements, but they don’t really use them in the way that the rest of us do. They tend to gravitate to the ‘ground floors’ which were, rather brilliantly, built to a height that gave the servants just enough headroom downstairs, while the big windows above let in lots of light and are positioned so that you don’t even see the road – just the greenery beyond.

So good luck to those now living a ‘Downstairs, Upstairs’ life, but I think you are going to regret going to all the trouble and expense. Back in the business world, two quick tips:

1) Where possible go for a room that is as light and airy as possible. Happily my old caveat of ensuring that you can still see the screen properly has largely disappeared with the emergence of giant TV screens and high-powered projectors.

2) Bear in mind that there is a big difference between a room that holds, say, 12 people and one that can do so comfortably for a sustained period.

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