Training guide 4

In this document:

Running the workshop

Before the workshop starts

Ensure you have read through the preparatory paperwork, the intended learning outcomes, and this guide.  Think about the time and space in which the group will be working. Is it comfortable? Are the chairs arranged so that everyone can see all the other group members? Do you know where the toilets are and when the programmed start and finish times are? Are you familiar with any equipment you’ll be using and does it work? Have catering arrangements been made? Arrive in plenty of time on the day so that you can feel in control of all of the above.

Starting the workshop

Before beginning the workshop, it is sometimes useful to employ an exercise known as an “ice-Breaker” to help participants become comfortable with each other and with the facilitators. If you wish to use ice-breakers, there are many different exercises to choose from. A simple example is provided in the guidance for the introductory session that follows.

Once participants have arrived and gathered prior to the workshop, start promptly at the agreed time. Open the workshop by welcoming the participants, introducing yourself and any co-facilitator. The training should always start with a round of introductions: usually, everyone in the group takes turns to state their name, where they work, and – if they wish - something about their background. This should be non-threatening and allow the individual to offer something of themselves to the group. Make a note of people’s names as group members introduce themselves. It can be helpful to write this on flip-chart paper and keep it visible to everyone all day as an aide- mémoire.

Initiating the first module

After the introductory exercise summarise the outline of the day, timings etc and how the workshop will proceed.

Practicalities and ‘house-keeping’

Ensure that you are familiar with all practical arrangements at the workshop venue such as the location of toilets, expected fire drills, gathering points and so on and convey these to the workshop group.

Group rules, workshop ethos and practicalities

Make explicit the kind of behaviour expected, so that is easier to deal with unhelpful behaviour later (if it occurs). This is best done as an extension of the introduction and expectations section. Ask the group members to suggest ‘ways of working’ they would find helpful. Put the rules up on a flipchart as they are stated, and that flipchart sheet on the wall so that they can be referred to again if necessary. Depending on the cultural background and specific characteristics of the workshop participants, you may want to consider rules such as:

  • We, the participants and facilitators agree to arrive on time for the beginning of each module and after each break
  • We will all undertake to state our opinions honestly so that we can benefit from frank discussions
  • Participants may ask questions freely at any time
  • One person speaks at a time, particularly with translation, this is vital; it is also
  • important to ensure that quieter voices are heard in both small-groups and plenary modules
  • Comments should be made to the whole group: we undertake not to have side conversations
  • We aim to listen to a person’s full opinions or ideas and not react immediately: in this way we can consider what we really think of a new or opposing idea, instead of just reacting to it
  • We will work towards resolving conflicts rather than taking up inflexible positions
  • We will discuss ideas or opinions, not the person expressing them
  • No smoking in the training room
  • No alcohol or drug consumption during the workshop modules
  • We agree to switch off mobile phones while in the training room
  • No violence (verbal/physical) : people must feel free to express opinions that may not be popular so that we can learn from these opinions.

(Adapted from Burrows D (2003) Training Guide For HIV Prevention Outreach to Injecting Drug Users, Geneva: WHO Dept. Of HV/AIDS Prevention)

If current or former users of drugs are participating it is important that their experiences are not overly focused on or unduly explored by the facilitators or other participants. Non-users who are curious can draw former or current users into describing past and current drug use. There can be a risk that some participants might unintentionally adopt a voyeuristic stance so as to gain from these experiences. This can place those concerned in uncomfortable situations, particularly when individual experiences are being explored in large group situations and should be avoided.


Confidentiality within the training should be discussed and agreed. The usual expectation is that participants should not share any sensitive information disclosed during the training with others e.g. challenging or compromising practice issues, current or former drug use or similar disclosures that may contribute to individual and group learning. It should be emphasised that learners are responsible for their own judgements about what they may contribute within the training. It should be made clear that, as with clinical work, confidentiality is bounded and not absolute e.g. if specific child protection concerns become apparent within the training or practices that constitute ‘gross misconduct’.

Workshop expectations

It can be useful to gain an understanding of individual and collective expectations. This is best attained from small group work, asking each group to consider their expectations of the workshop. Be clear that all participants should have the opportunity to express what they are hoping to achieve. Generally, expectations should be written on flip chart paper as they will be presented back to the whole group. When the groups are formed, invite one person from each group to feedback on behalf of each group.

Take note of people’s individual expectations. If people have been prepared well for the training these will usually closely resemble the learning objectives for the day. If anyone’s expectations are very different from these, this needs to be addressed clearly from the outset. Often, people will indicate specific questions that can readily be addressed within the planned programme e.g. within group discussion. Knowing these in advance allows the training to be tailored to ensure their needs are met.  It can be useful to refer back to people’s expectations when they are being addressed within the planned programme, to ensure that the participants use that part of the training to answer their questions fully.

index ¦ top ¦ next