When setting up the workshops all facilitators should consider the following:

  • Prepare the room carefully and consider a welcoming atmosphere
  • Allow for an open order for the settling-in of participants (for example: chair circles)
  • Prepare all the material for the workshop
  • Post the ground rules somewhere visible during the workshop.
Time Management
“A workshop is both a time consuming and a time saving activity”; time consuming due to the organisational effort involved, time-saving because it provides an environment were all participants can feel addressed differently and appropriately.

The following tips can help you to manage the time:

  • Choose a time keeper to remind you regularly about the time used and left.
  • Create and share a timed agenda. Remind people if/when the group is close to running out of time or over time. Ask the room and get agreement before spending more than allotted time.
  • When caught up, cut time from the middle of the activity not from beginning or end.
  • Simplify tasks.
  • Reduce the amount of discussion time especially those in small groups.
  • Reduce reporting time to the larger group.
  • Ensure you arrive on time and respect the schedule.
Adults – Group Agreement
A group agreement is a set of statements that defines how people will behave within the workshop. It is a very useful tool for starting the workshops in a positive manner and maintaining structure during the session.  A group agreement helps the group to work together respectfully and effectively.

A group agreement can be defined by the group or by the facilitator.

Defining a group agreement as a group is far more empowering than having a facilitator set out ‘rules’ for everyone to follow. Also, people are much more likely to respect and implement an agreement to which they have had an input. When problems or conflicts arise, you will be able to refer back to this agreement. It should however be noted that it takes more time to define the group agreement with the all participants at the beginning of the session than to bring an already written group agreement and ask for their consent. Whether you choose the first or the second method depends how much time you can spend on it. A group agreement can be proposed but not imposed on the participants.


  • Secure and frames the workshop
  • Defines the common rules of the workshop
  • Assures that every participant has the same understanding of concepts such as confidentiality and respect

Example of a group agreement:

  • Everyone has the right to have their voice heard, but only one at a time (raise your hand and wait for your turn)
  • Every participant is aware if the objectives
  • Respect different opinions – especially if you don’t agree with them – because not everyone has the same experiences and backgrounds
  • Confidentiality: what is shared in the group remains in the group
  • Respect the activity time. If you need more time, this can be negotiated
  • Turn mobile phones off
  • If you need a break, raise your hand and ask the group
  • Sharing responsibility: everyone contributes to the running of the group
  • Listening is important: pay active attention to each member
  • If you don’t understand something, ask
  • Laugh together but not at each other
Youth – Group Agreement
Children and adolescents are different to adults in the way that they view, experience and communicate their concerns. They are often excluded from adult decision-making processes and face additional barriers to participation. Participatory assessment is a method developed by the UNHCR and is “an important way of ensuring that boys and girls of all ages and backgrounds are at the centre of decisions concerning their protection and well-being. Effective participation also recognizes children and adolescents as rights-holders, it builds their capacity and resilience, and allows them to better protect themselves and their peers.”

Should you decide to use the group agreement in your workshops accommodate a group-centric decision-making process involving all participants:

  • Ask participants to think about the best group discussions they have been a part of, and reflect on what made these discussions so satisfying.
  • Next, ask participants to think about the worst group discussions in which they have participated and reflect on what made these discussions so unsatisfactory.
  • For each of the positive characteristics identified, ask them to suggest three things the group could do to ensure that these characteristics are present.
  • For each of the negative characteristics identified, ask them to suggest three things the group could do to ensure that these characteristics are not present.
  • Use participants’ suggestions to draft a set of ground rules to which you all agree.

Once a group agreement has been reached, make sure it is on display for all to see – ideally have it written up on a whiteboard, flipchart or overhead projector.

Children – Ground Rules
Ground rules articulate a set of behaviours expected of the children for workshop conduct. Like for the other type of participants, as facilitator you can define the ground rules together with the group or define them in advance and ask for the agreement and understanding of the children. Once your ground rules have been agreed upon, make sure they are on display for all to see – ideally have it written up on a whiteboard, flipchart or overhead projector.

Approach for working with children:

  • Break sessions up into shorter periods so that they are more effective.
  • Use drawings, art work and physical props, and talk to the children about what they have produced.
  • Use simple ‘voting’ techniques for young children to express their choices and make decisions – ask them to place items into hoops or use smiley faces to make a decision.
  • Use props, stories or puppets to introduce and support the topic.
  • Use a range of techniques and activities – a multi-method approach works best.
  • Activities should be visual, physical and varied (moving around as one group, working in pairs, dividing into small groups)
  • Show the children the results of their participation – for example a drawing or puppet and let them take it home

Active agreement is a useful addition to any group agreement. With the children you can develop a hand signal codex.