So said US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. He was talking about the benefits of openness and transparency, with which I also agree, but today I am thinking about the sunlight itself, and how important it is to our mood and well-being. And I am often surprised when I am shown into training rooms that lack this simple – and to my mind essential – feature. I do have sympathy with those companies occupying old buildings, where offices have been shoehorned into spaces originally built as reception rooms or bedrooms or sculleries. But I find it less easy to understand lovely, purpose-built offices that insist on putting training rooms in the basement, or in interior spaces with no windows. Learning new material is hard enough, so why make it more difficult by depriving people of the energy they derive from natural light? Even if you don’t have full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, lack of natural light can make anyone feel a bit mis. So training rooms with windows, please, and we can always adjust the level of light with blinds.
Level of light brings me onto my second bugbear of training rooms: poorly-positioned lights. When you have slides on a screen, a light directly overhead will make them almost impossible to read, bleeding all colour from the projection. And which smartypants thought to wire all the lights to the same switch, so you either have colourless, illegible slides, or a darkened atmosphere akin to a nightclub – albeit with rather less alcohol and pole-dancing. We hope. I’m not complaining for myself, honestly: I’ve been training for long enough to be able to make the best of any situation. Heavens, I’ve even done presentations as charades when the projector won’t work – you should see my short-cut gestures for Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford. But I do feel so sorry for the trainees: you ask them to attend a training session and pay full attention, and then make it almost impossible for them to do so, as they try to squint at over-lit slides and simultaneously resist the draining of pigmentation from their skin as they adjust to life in the darkness.