1. Outline the objectives of training;
  2. Outline the course methodology to be used;
  3. Define what is expected from the facilitator with regard to the course.  

During the Workshop:

  1. Deliver brief presentations; adhere to time limits and to the assigned topic;
  2. Make practical recommendations;
  3. Use examples.  Newspaper articles and hypothetical examples to help illustrate your point more clearly.
  4. Use visual aids, such as handouts, chalkboard or flipchart with textual graphics, charts, maps, films, videotapes, posters, photographs, audio-visual equipment, etc.
  5. Encourage active group participation.

Ensure that any comments/recommendations are consistent with the standards set out in the training materials.

Planning for Participants Needs

The level of physical comfort of training participants will have a direct impact on the outcome of the learning exercise.  Keep these basic facts in mind:

  1. Try to keep the temperature of the room at a comfortable level for all participants.
  2. Classrooms should never be filled beyond capacity.
  3. Restrooms should be easily accessible.
  4. Time factor: A training workshop may last from a few hours to several days.  The daily program should include a 15-minute mid-morning break, lunch break of at least one hour, and a 15-minute coffee/rest break in the afternoon.  After each break, the training group needs at least 5 minutes to get back into the rhythm after the short period of relaxation and conversation.  This period could be used for warm-up activities and games.
  5. Lunch breaks should be scheduled within the time to which participants are accustomed to having lunch.  
  6. Allow participants to stretch and stand occasionally.
  7. When possible, provide/allow beverages in the classroom.
Using Visual Support

Use the chalkboard or paper to write down pertinent information, to track ideas or opinions, answers to questions or, to draw schemes and note definitions.  Recording information on paper helps reinforce the key points and allows for summarizing the material covered.  It is important to keep most recorded information posted around the room for the participants and the facilitator to refer to throughout the training session.

When a facilitator has to talk and write at the same time, the group may concentrate more on what he or she writes than what he or she says.  In addition, the facilitator’s voice becomes muffled when he or she speaks toward the board, not to the group.  Hence, it is desirable to work in pairs, so that when one facilitator speaks, the other partner can write.  If a facilitator is working alone, he or she must face the audience when addressing them, and not the sheet of paper placed on the wall.  Remember, written information should only reinforce what is being said, not vice versa.

Conducting the Guidelines Exercise 

Propose or have the participants brainstorm the guidelines regarding work and communication during the training session.  The following are suggested guidelines and ways of explaining them to the group (if proposed by the facilitator):

1)      Value Time

Our first principle – Value Time.  Take a good look at our Training Plan.  In a relatively short span of time allotted for the training session, we have to cover some complex issues.  If we agree to value time, we are committing to being attentive, not to stray from the subject of discussion, and to trying to work within the time frame allocated for each training session.  Does the group agree to value time?

2)      Speak One At A Time, take turns speaking.

3)      Speak Briefly And To The Point

Guidelines two and three are Courtesy Guidelines which help us to follow our first point of valuing time.  Does the group agree to speak one at a time without interrupting each other?

There are many people in this group and the opinion of each participant is valuable.  Because of this, let us speak briefly.  Those of us who can speak on each of the subjects of our sessions, should allow others to participate as well.  In addition, given our limited time, let us speak specifically on the given topic.  Does the group agree with this?

4)      Speak Only On Behalf Of Yourself

Let us try and speak only on our own behalf.  It is better to use “I believe…, my suggestion is …, in my opinion …”.  Statements like the following will make the training more difficult: “Everybody thinks so …, this is widely established …, everybody assumes so …, all women are the same …, all men do so …, it was always like this…”.  Also, when anyone cites information from a specific source (books, articles, media news), please disclose this source.  Does the group agree with this?

5)      Be Positive

Let us make an agreement to maintain positive atmosphere, express positive ideas and propose positive actions, respect yourself and others.  Does the group agree with this?

6)      Addition Principle

Let us consider the principle of Addition.  This principle addresses the importance of tolerance of other people’s opinions and ideas.  This means that each newly expressed idea supplements what has already been said, instead of rejecting or contradicting previous statements.  There may be any number of correct answers to a given question, as they each represent the ideas and opinions of different people.  Does the group agree with this principle?

7)      Respect Each Other

Let us be respectful of ourselves and other participants.  It is important to omit from this training any comments or jokes based on gender which might be offensive.  Does the group agree with this?

8)      Voluntary Participation

The principle of Voluntary Participation means that when volunteers are needed during an exercise, it is only appropriate to volunteer yourself – it is not appropriate to indicate others.  Does the group agree with this?

9)      Confidentiality

The Confidentiality guideline provides that personal information about each participant, which may be disclosed during the classes, should not be discussed outside the session; it should remain confidential within our close group.  Does the group agree with this?

It is important that all the participants agree upon each of the guidelines and accept them.  Therefore, after the facilitator has written the guidelines on the board he or she should make sure there are no objections on anyone’s part.

If one of the group members offers an additional guideline, it may be included in the list on the condition that it does not contradict any other guidelines and the group accepts it.

In case one or more participants don’t agree with a guideline, the facilitator should explain how that guideline helps to achieve the training.  He or she may ask the opinion of the group.  If the facilitator’s arguments do not convince the participant, it is advisable to ask him or her to trust the judgment of the facilitator and approve the guideline, and later discuss its merits.  Compiling a set of guidelines for training with the group promotes an atmosphere of cooperation.

Adapted from Prevention of Domestic Violence and Trafficking in Human Beings, Training Manual, Winrock International, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2001. 

Tips On Debriefing 

Facilitators might consider the debriefing model that begins with the question:

How do you feel about the activity and the results?

The purpose of this question is to give an opportunity for the participants to express their feelings and emotions and prepare for the intellectual analysis in the latter phases of the debriefing.  Sometimes the participants are so preoccupied with their internal conversations about their feelings that they do not mindfully participate in the external conversation.  Also, their responses to other questions (such as What happened during the activity? or What did you learn from the activity?) might involve emotional reactions or complaints.

Many facilitators avoid any discussion about feelings and emotions during the debriefing.  Usually, they project their reluctance to the participants and explain that this particular group does not like to discuss emotional issues due to their position in the organizational hierarchy or their field of work (e.g. managers, or law enforcement officials).  If the facilitators really believe in combining emotional intelligence with the other forms of intelligence, they probably would not omit this phase of debriefing.

On the other hand, overemphasizing the discussion of feelings can also be detrimental.  The facilitator should explain that the aim of the exercise is to give people an opportunity to briefly express their frustrations or share their opinions, and move on to the other phases of debriefing.  The participants’ statements should be treated as bits of information and not as personal attacks.  It is important that the facilitator does not react defensively.  It is advisable to discourage participants from attempting in-depth analysis of different feelings.

In case asking the question How do you feel still seems uncomfortable, the facilitator can substitute it with What are your reactions to the activity?

Adapted from Tips for Facilitators, Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.

Brainstorming Rules

  • Withholding Judgment.  Statements Are Accepted Without Comments

Do not pass judgement on ideas until the completion of the brainstorming session.  Do not suggest that an idea will not work or that it has negative consequences.  Ideas should be put forward both as solutions and also as a basis to suggest solutions.  At this stage, devote time to the creation of ideas, and try to avoid discussing and evaluating the ideas, as this will inevitably involve either criticizing or complimenting them.

  • Encouragement of Ideas.  Emphasis is made on the quantity of suggestions, not quality

Brainstorming sessions should be geared towards extracting as many ideas as possible in a given period.  Keep each idea short, do not describe it in detail - just capture the essence of the idea.  Brief clarifications can be requested. 

  • Build on the Ideas Put Forward By Others 

Build and expand on the ideas of others.  Use other people's ideas as inspiration for your own.  Creative progress depends on good listening.  Combine several of the suggested ideas to explore new possibilities.

It is just as valuable to be able to adapt and improve other people's ideas as it is to generate the initial idea that sets off new trains of thought.

  • Equality Of All Participants And Ideas 

Every person has a point of view and a unique perspective on the situation and solution.  Encourage participation from everyone.  Keep in mind that some participants may feel more comfortable writing their ideas on a piece of paper and handing it to the trainer. 

It is useful to think of each idea as belonging to the group, not to the person stating it.  It is the group's responsibility and an indication of its ability to brainstorm if all participants feel able to contribute freely and confidently.  Note down all ideas.

Adapted from Rules of Brainstorming.


Tips On Guided Discussion

Questions for guided discussion

The ability to ask questions is an important skill of the facilitator.  The purpose of the questions is to: 

  • increase comprehension
  • monitor and evaluate the group’s level of perception;
  • help guide the group, i.e.  when the group doesn’t understand something, additional questions may cover more territory in areas that require assistance;
  • focus the group’s attention on the relevant topic.

How to work with a group using the “question-answer” technique 

Adapted from, Prevention of Domestic Violence and Trafficking in Human Beings, Training Manual, Winrock International, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2001. 

It is important to be tolerant and recognize the right of each person to his or her own opinion, even when it is different than that of the rest of the group.  Therefore, no matter what thought or idea is expressed, the facilitator should thank the participant for her remark and note that it is valued as the individual opinion of that person (unless they are violating one of the rules which the group has agreed upon, are not addressing the specific topic being discussed or if they are insulting someone).  The facilitator should stress that there may be many correct answers to a given question.

When someone dominates a discussion, the other participants hold back their ideas.  Team members get bored.  Instead of coming up with solutions that incorporate a wealth of diverse opinions, the team ends up with a mediocre decision.

The following are some suggestions for dealing with participants who dominate discussions:

  • Avoid discouraging the excessive talker.  Instead, encourage the others to participate more. 
  • Go around the group, giving each participant a turn to talk. 
  • Divide the group into pairs for preliminary sharing of ideas.  Then ask each pair to give a summary report of their discussion. 
  • Impose time limits on participants. 
  • Interrupt the person with a question directed to someone else. 
  • Formulate questions that require only a “yes” or “no” answer and don’t allow for long discourses.
  • Acknowledge the comment and involve others: "Alex, that was an interesting insight.  Lilia, what are your views on this issue?"
  • Before the meeting or during a break, enlist the help of the excessive talker in encouraging the silent participants to participate. 
  • If one participant talks too frequently and for too long, thank this person for his/her contribution and remind him/her that it is imperative to hear the views of all the participants.  It might be useful to refer to the rule agreed to earlier “Speak briefly and to the point”.  That is why the facilitator is asking for the opinion of those who have not yet spoken.

Adapted from Tips for Facilitators, Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.

On the other hand, encouraging the silent participants to talk will help ensure a much more inclusive training process.  Also it will set a model for equal participation from everyone.

The following are some suggestions for dealing with participants who don’t participate:

  • Reduce the anxiety level by using an alternative format.  For example, break the large group into pairs for preliminary sharing of ideas.  Then ask each pair to give a summary report of their discussion.
  • Direct questions to the silent participant.  Ask questions related to the silent participant's areas of expertise and interest. 
  • Ask the silent participant to react to someone else's statement. 
  • Ask everyone to take turns to make a 1-minute presentation. 
  • Reinforce comments from the silent participant (without appearing to be patronizing). 
  • Before the meeting or during a break, talk to the silent participant.  Emphasize the importance of her or his participation and collaboratively work out strategies to increasing the level of participation. 

Adapted from Tips for Facilitators, Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.,

If the participant asks the facilitator a question, the latter should thank the participant, mention that the question is important/interesting and pass it on to the group to answer (e.g.  “Thank you.  This is an interesting question.  Who wants to answer it?”).  Only after everyone else has presented his or her opinions, the facilitator may then respond.  This approach offers a triple advantage: 1) if the facilitator does not know the answer, someone from the group may provide it; 2) the facilitator gains time to think the question over; and 3) when the facilitator provides the answer as an equal group member, he/she does not suppress other opinions, demonstrates tolerance in practice, and shows respect and attention to different views of the issue.

The facilitators should avoid arguments during guided discussions.  An argument in the group is not advisable unless it is limited in time and guided by the carefully selected questions (or analysis of the given situation).  In case of an argument or heated discussion between two participants, the facilitator should thank them for their contributions and ask the rest of the group to give their opinion on the subject in question. 

Facilitators should avoid answering questions when they are not sure of the answer.  It is wise to redirect such questions to the group and summarize the results of the discussion at the end.  Another option is to let the participants know that the facilitator will find out the answer and will return to the question later in training.  Facilitators should tailor questions to local conditions and needs.

Tips On Role-Playing

When to Use Role-Playing

Role-playing is useful in initial training or awareness raising sessions, as well as in follow-up and ongoing training programs.  It should be used in the training of facilitators, community advocates, heads of programs, managers, planners and head office staff, etc.

In a single training session or workshop, the training team may wish to set up more than one role-play.  If so, it is advisable to change scenarios and use a different structure (e. g. whether or not written instructions are handed out; whether or not the participants are given time to prepare their plot; whether or not the role-play involves all or some of the participants).

 In both the set up and the discussion stages of the role-play, the facilitator should encourage humor.  Remember that a ‘play’ by definition is not reality, and should not be taken completely seriously.  Humor can defuse the tension in a role-play situation, and it allows participants to take a more practical approach to analyzing the potential ‘real life’ situations they might experience later.

Adapted from Role Playing and Simulation Games: A Training Technique, by Phil Bartle, PhD.

Tips On Evaluating Training Activities/Exercises

Facilitators might find it helpful to use the evaluation checklist a guide while choosing among different training exercises and activities:

  • Real-World Relevance.  Does the training exercise help participants learn skills and concepts that are applicable to the workplace? Do the roles in the training exercise relate to easily recognizable real-world situations?
  • Appropriate Structure.  Is the basic structure of the training exercise appropriate for the instructional objectives, participant characteristics, type of learning, and intended use?
  • Flexible Format.  Does the training activity permit easy modifications to suit local resources and constraints in terms of schedule, number and background of participants, and physical facilities?
  • Participant Involvement.  Are all participants involved in the training activity at all times?
  • Effective Instructions.  Does the training activity include clear and concise instructions? Do the rules avoid unnecessary and irrelevant items?
  • Intellectual Stimulation.  Are the participants engaged in challenging tasks instead of rote memory activities?
  • Criterion Reference.  Is the mastery of useful skills and knowledge obvious to the participants?
  • User Friendliness.  Can a typical facilitator use the activity without having to spend too much time preparing the materials or learning the rules?
  • Cost-Effectiveness.  Is the training activity inexpensive? Can a cheaper alternative produce the same training outcomes?
Adapted from Tips for Facilitators, Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.

Depending on the training objective and the characteristics of the participants, different activities may be more relevant than the others.


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