Organizing and Training for Social Change

The lives of many women and young girls could be changed forever because of YOU! You don't have to be a public speaker, politician or run your own NGO. Just speak from your heart about your experience with World Pulse's VOF program and share your knowledge so that others in your community can learn how to raise awareness of the issues and challenges that they face, as well as their solutions. Whether you've already begun to mobilize your community or are considering the possibility for the first time, the materials included here will help you plan, prepare, and implement a successful community workshop. The Four Phases of Conducting a Community Workshop or Training Event Phase 1, Planning: The first step of organizing your workshop, training or event is to create a plan. You can begin by asking yourself questions about the reasons why you wish to carry out a training or workshop, what you want your impact to be, and how you're going to accomplish it! As you consider these questions, your answers will define your next steps. (see our Helpful One Page Documents page for the World Pulse pre-planning worksheet here for pre-planning questions) Getting Started Questions

  • Content of workshop: Consider what you want to share with your audience. The more specific you can be here, the more focused your event will be. The content should respond to a particular need or address a particular issue in the community.
  • Audience: Consider who you want to address. Think about geography, age, gender, profession, education background and other factors when answering the question "Who?"
  • Size of workshop/event: Think of the ideal number of people you want to attend your workshop or event. Will you have several small groups, or one large group? Consider the resources you have available: space, time, materials, etc. You may want to reach everyone in your community, but it's important to have a target number that matches what you can do at one time.
  • Time duration of workshop/event: Will your workshop be one hour on a weekend, or several hours over several weekends? How much time do you need to convey your information in a clear and powerful way? What time constraints does your audience face: are they young mothers with children? Are they professional women who work 40-hour work weeks? Whatever the constraints make sure you arrange your workshop in a way that doesn't interrupt people's normal schedules too much! Also, be sure to consider time for introductions, questions, discussions, and breaks. It is also a good idea to rehearse your program in entirety at least once before presenting it to a real group.
  • Purpose of workshop/event: Perhaps the most important question to ask, is "Why?" The more clearly you can state your goals for the event, the more likely your audience will walk away with something valuable. Your purpose should respond to a specific need, or address a specific problem. Determining the purpose of the event will also help you create evaluation forms and allow you to measure your success.
  • Presentation of materials: Think about different ways you can present the content to your audience. Printed hand-outs, group activities, skits, lectures, and computer presentations are just a few options available. Consider using multiple formats to keep your audience engaged.

Phase 2, Preparation: Once you've established the foundation of your event through careful planning, the next step is to prepare. The key to success here is to over prepare. Consider the following elements to make sure you're ready to launch the actual presentation.

  • Event location: Visit the facilities to understand what's available, and what you'll need to arrange yourself. Make sure you have adequate lighting, and consider the need for chairs, tables, bathrooms, and electrical outlets. Also consider access for disabled attendees. Draw a layout of the space and use it when preparing your presentation and activities.
  • Supplies: Gather all the necessary pens, papers, drinking cups, snacks, chairs and tables you'll need. Consider asking for donations, or borrow from people in your network if necessary. To avoid surprises, double-check any technology you'll be using (computer, overhead projector, etc.) at least a day before the event.
  • Materials: Make sure you print off enough copies of your hand-outs, teaching materials and notes. If you will be presenting with other people, ask for their materials in advance. Anticipate questions from your audience and have answers ready for them.
  • Evaluations: Prepare a short evaluation form to gather your audience's feedback. With this tool, you'll be able to know if you've achieved your goals for the workshop, and improve your next presentation. (see our Helpful One Page Documents page for the sample participant questionnaire form here)
  • Yourself: Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before the event. Consider giving yourself five or ten extra minutes of self-care (breathing, yoga, or meditation) the morning of the workshop. And, remember to ask for help when you need it.

Phase 3, Implementation: Through careful planning and preparation, you've arrived at the big day! Now it's time to fulfill your goals to share your knowledge and skills with your audience. In general there are three phases to the actual event.

  • Introduction: This phase covers everything from the moment people walk in to your venue, to when you start presenting the materials.
    • Set the tone: Have the space set up well before anyone arrives. Create a nice mood with music, and lighting or whatever is culturally appropriate. Provide a warm greeting and introduction to everyone who arrives, and hand out your materials and evaluation forms.
    • Note who attends your event! It is important for your own learning, as well as potential donors, to know who you are impacting. Make sure to note down how many people are there, who they are and where they come from. You can use our sample Training/Event Tracking Sheet in our Helpful One-Page Documents here.
    • Personal introductions: Start by welcoming everyone to the event, introducing yourself and briefly explaining why you wanted to organize the event. Then, allow participants a few moments to introduce themselves to each other and share why they're attending. This simple activity builds relationships between your participants from the start, which is especially important if they'll be interacting later.
    • Agenda: Share your intended schedule with the audience, and try to stick to it! Have goals or outcomes stated for each section of your presentation, and allow for feedback to avoid confusions, problems and to give your audience a sense of ownership.
  • Main Presentation: Here's where you get to the main purpose of the event. What you do here will depend on your particular workshop or training content, but in general following these guidelines will keep you on track.
    • Time: Pay attention to your agenda, but also allow for the event to flow naturally. If you are concerned about a section going too long, don't be afraid to steer the conversation to the next topic.
    • Tone: Demonstrate confidence that you know what you're presenting. Your audience will be more likely to listen if you seem well informed, and consistent in your tone.
    • Vary presentation styles: Individuals have different ways of absorbing new knowledge. Some people need visual aids, others need physical activities, and some are content reading from paper. By varying your presentation styles you can offer a more complete experience for your audience.
    • Be authentic, entertaining and enthusiastic: Your personal enthusiasm will keep your audience engaged. Adding personal anecdotes, moments of humor and a generally positive attitude will keep your audience connected to you and your work.
    • Allow time for discussion and reflection: Between sections of the event allow time for people to share their experience, questions and ideas that have come from your presentation. Allowing interaction between your participants will enrich their experience, and build new relationships.
  • Closure: This final phase allows you and the participants time to review and react to the experience. You may want to do a formal activity to close the day, or ask questions to the group informally. This is a good place to explain your evaluation form!
    • Summarize: You should give a brief, final overview of the material covered. This is easy to do by returning to your original agenda and providing some of the most important themes or lessons.
    • Review intended goals: Did participants learn what they expected to learn? Did you cover the material you originally planned to?
    • Allow participation and feedback: This is an important step, as your participants' reflections will help you improve your work for the future. In particular, listen to their challenges and unmet needs. Here is where you'll learn what worked and what didn't.
    • Collect evaluation forms: Remind your audience to complete the form, and make sure you collect one from everybody.

Phase 4, Follow-up: You did it! Now, the final phase of your event is to make sure any loose ends are tied up, and to reflect on your experience.

  • Respond to requests or promises for more information: If you said you would send additional materials or contacts, make sure you do. Also, make any follow-up calls with your participants or supporters.
  • Record personal observations: You may want to summarize everything that was discussed, and send your notes out to your audience. You should at least write up notes for yourself, as a record of what you did and lessons learned for next time!
  • Review evaluation forms and reflect: Read through the feedback your audience gave you, and honestly reflect on their words. Also, take time when the event is still fresh in your mind to personally reflect on what you think went well, and where you have room to improve. Would you change anything? This step will help you start planning your next event!
  • Share with World Pulse community: Be sure to connect with your fellow Correspondents by sharing your personal experience in a Journal entry. We all want to hear how it went, and what outcomes you hope to see!

This material references The Community Toolbox, found online at