The workshop venue should be divided into two main spaces, ideally with access to additional outdoor spaces.
The first, where the group will meet initially, is the primary space. The second space should be used for group discussions – best if it is without chairs, so it is the more ‘informal’ space where participants can sit on the floor on cushions. Keep in mind, though, that some participants may be physically uncomfortable on cushions, so also offer lower seats.
For separate group work, allow participants to find comfortable spaces at the workshop venue, or around the room. If weather permits, it is always advisable to make use of outdoor spaces, particularly for work in pairs, triads or small groups.
By moving participants to different spaces during the workshop, the facilitators:
- enhance the focus and attention of participants by ensuring that energy is flowing and shifting;
- signal transitions between sessions; and
- help participants to feel closure after difficult or emotional sessions.
Pay attention to the establishment of a comfortable atmosphere and feel free to be creative.
At past workshops we have developed this atmosphere by:
- diffusing essential oils;
- playing gentle music during breaks;
- having flowers in a central area;
- giving a participant time to show others a video; and
- sharing participant photos in a slideshow.
Importance of fun
Humour and play are vibrant, powerful tools to support participant learning. Laughter, like physical movement and breathing exercises, is a great physical action to release pent up tension, emotion and stress.
Create energisers that are fun and uplifting. Use colour, fabric and toys (such as play dough) to inspire the imagination of participants and their sense of fun. We have employed multicoloured Guatemalan ‘stress’ balls, coloured balloons and animal figurines – each facilitator will have her/his own ideas.