Getting the lighting right for your events matters

Getting the atmosphere and setting right for day-long meetings, events and conferences can make or break their success. And lighting plays a big part in that.

There are a lot of things to consider when planning your meeting, from the quality of your speakers to the layout of the room and what you’re going to do in the breaks. Often lighting is forgotten. But it’s an important factor. Here’s why…

Sets a first impression
When people walk into a room one of the things they first notice is the lighting. Or often it’s that they don’t notice it. Good lighting shouldn’t stand out too much, unless you’re trying to highlight something specifically – like your guest speaker.

It should, though, create a welcoming mood – somewhere the attendees would be happy to spend their day listening to other people talk.

Anything too bright or too dark, or with jarring pools of light and darkness, can instantly put people on the back foot and not in the right kind of mood. Getting them back into the right mood after this can be hard work.

Keeps people focussed
Staying focussed during long talks, in-depth discussion and endless presentations can be tough. But the lighting in a room can help.

A recent study found that people exposed to natural daylight were more alert later in the day than those exposed to artificial light.

While you might not be able to use completely natural light in your meeting room, try and get as much in as possible and encourage people to head outdoors at break times. You could even be as bold as to hold session outside if the weather is good.

Prevents tired eyes
One of the main areas that good lighting can help is preventing people from having tired eyes. Moving focus from papers or laptops on the desk to presentation slides can cause eye strain. Add to that poor lighting and by the end of the day, people will be feeling tired.

Having good lighting can help negate some of this effect. Try and get your lighting at a uniform level throughout the room. You can do this by using light diffusers on overhead lights.

Other tips include positioning the main screen or monitor parallel to, not directly below, overhead lights, and angle it away from the lights and windows to reduce shine.

Highlight the right people
Outside of creating a comfortable atmosphere, lights can be used in other ways in meetings – such as for highlighting people.

If you’ve got a main guest speaker, make sure that they have plenty of light on them – it’s no use everyone else being bathed in light and the speaker standing in the shadows. The same goes if you’ve got a panel – make sure everyone on the panel is lit well.

Use it as a divider
For meetings and events with a number of sessions, lighting can be used as a divider. At the simplest level, you can bring the lights up at the end of a session, signalling it’s time to move on. Or by opening the blinds at lunch time to let some daylight in.

But there are other subtle ways – you could colour code sessions, using subtle changes in the warmth or set up of lights to signify whether it’ll be a speaker-led event or group discussion.

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