Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Group size

2012-12-04 15.11.36In the last few months I have facilitated groups varying in size from 25 to 6. What’s the best group size?

For me this depends on the outcomes required and the importance of a collaborative outcome.

In a perfect world my group size is 12 …

  • They are easily broken into groups of 3, 4, 2 or 6 …
  • Building the group at the start of the session is relatively easy with 12, people are happy to share thoughts and experiences. Once the number exceeds 12 the time taken to build the group trust is longer and some quiet members of the group will not interact at the whole group level at all.
  • I like to use U shaped tables in a workshop and this also works well with groups up to about 12. With more participants I perfer round tables with groups of 5 at each table. Each table can then be treated as “one” with table discussions feeding into the overall.
  • I encourage people to move around during workshop sessions – setting this up in the “How we will work together” so after each break we sit next to someone different. This assists with generating new ideas and thinking as well as creating networking opportunities for the members of the group.

Venues can be challenging depending on there shape and size – often not giving us the choice we would like for room set up. I prefer to see the venue before the workshop – however this is not always possible when travelling long distances.

The most challenging venue we have facilitated in was an old town hall in country Queensland – the floor was wood and the acoustics terrible. Bad venues can have a big impact on the outcomes of the workshop – as was reflected in the evaluation sheets from this particular one.

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