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Activity planning considerations

This list highlights the items that should be considered when planning a collaborative event.

Planning an activity requires a clear set of objectives and a discussion around the type of information that should be collected from this activity. It is also necessary to develop a clear understanding of the participants, their areas of expertise and accessibility needs. This information will help to define parameters for the activity and identify the most appropriate format for the participants. The next step is to incorporate elements of change that allow participants to remain mentally and physically engaged in the activity. Lengthy activities may cause fatigue and loss of interest. Therefore, having a combination of different tasks and changing the pace/flow of the activity from individual reflection, to group work, and to active large group discussions helps to increase energy levels and re-engage the participants. Participants are also best engaged if they know the end goal of an activity and how their contributions will help to achieve that goal. Lastly, conducting a trial run of the planned activities helps to refine its tasks and identify issues that may arise with timing, facilitation, and format.


  • List the objectives/goals of the workshop.
  • List what information you are trying to extract with this activity.
  • Write down the schedule of your event and consider allocating time for breaks and going through formalities (e.g. signing forms, housekeeping notes, payment of honorarium, etc.)
  • The remaining spots on the schedule help you outline your activity.
  • Once you know how many parts your activity will have, brainstorm a list of questions you want to have answered with each part. Try to have a mix of individual and group activities.
  • Articulate those questions in a format that is accessible and understandable for your participants, such as conventional worksheets, journey maps, scripts, scenarios, discussions, games, prototypes, etc.
  • Think through what artifacts, worksheets and documentation from the groups will provide the most meaningful information and needed context to make sense of the work later on. Be mindful of the fact that you won’t be able to witness every discussion so it’s essential for groups and facilitators to document the process and thinking behind it as well as possible.
  • Trial activities as a team to ensure they are realistic and producing intended outcomes.


  • Warm-up activities can take up to 15 minutes. If you are running a short workshop, you can consider skipping a warm-up activity and do a simple round of introductions (Introductions may also take a long time if there is a large group of people).
  • Individual reflections are most effective when they range between 3-5 minutes.
  • Small group discussions can take 10-20 minutes depending on the participants communication needs.
  • Brainstorming ideas require 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the participants communication needs.
  • Prototyping solutions can take 1 to 2 hours depending on the participants skills, physical needs, and how much they can contribute to building a solution whether it is an artifact, drawings, act, script, etc.
  • For large group sharing and presentations, each group needs about 5 minutes to present their ideas and respond to the questions from other groups. It can be helpful to give each group some guidance, such as “tell us all one thing that was an ah-ha moment in your group” to avoid long group presentations.
  • Consider participants may arrive at the session later and leave earlier than what is suggested on the schedule. This is particularly important for people who need to coordinate their schedule with others, such as interveners, interpreters, assistants, special transit services.
  • Consider the participants’ energy level drops down after having lunch or dinner. Provide a range of healthy snacks, they tend to keep participants less lethargic.