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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Knowledge Pool



Group action, integrated thinking, team consensus


A workshop is an informal, occasion-related procedure in which politicians, administrators, experts, property owners, investors and other stakeholders discuss a concrete issue together. This method organizes the group on its journey towards deepening the discussion/insights and arriving at consensus on appropriate group action.

It is best used in situations which require problem identification and problem-solving and in generating concrete results given a brief period.



  • for working through a specific issue in a professional way,
  • to generate creativity and new energy in a short amount of time,
  • to infuse the team with a senseof responsibility,
  • to catalyze integrated thinking (rational & intuitive),
  • to build practical team consensus.
Expiry of the method

A workshop has no definite structural characteristics; depending on the assignment, the number and composition of the participants, the way in which they are selected and the sequence of events may vary considerably. To promote constructive collaboration, the atmosphere should be as open and free from compulsion as possible. Accommodation and a social situation different from everyday working conditions are beneficial here, and an important contribution can stem from facilitators steering the discussion.

However there are three phases to conducting a workshop: planning, preparation, and implementation (actually doing it). In addition, once you're done, it's important to follow up with participants to get feedback on the workshop,


Normally several hours; a whole series of workshops may be held

Medium-length workshop: 90 minutes to 3 hours.

At this length, a workshop can begin to address ideas and concepts in some depth, and teach some skills. Some considerations about a medium-length workshop:
Vary activities: Breaking up the time by involving participants in a number of different kinds of activities is far more conducive to their learning than asking them to sit still and do one thing for the whole time.

Vary the seriousness of the material: Interspersing activities and ideas that are fun or humorous with others that are more serious can not only keep participants awake and on their toes, but can aid learning as well.

Long workshop: over 3 hours.

A long workshop has some drawbacks, but it does allow you to present material in some depth and to conduct a number of activities. Six concentrated hours of work a day is about as much as most people can deal with. Be sure to allow for plenty of breaks, both because of the need to stretch and use the bathroom, and because of attention span.

  • Interested citizens, representatives of interest groups, politicians, administrators, experts.
  • The method is suitable for groups of any size, but they are generally small, usually from 6 to 15 participants, allowing everyone some personal attention and the chance to be heard.
Prerequisite for success
  • conduct by people who have real experience in the subject under discussion
  • the conductor has to pay attention to all the phases of the process
  • Participants need time to talk and connect with one another. The opportunity to get to know others and to exchange ideas is one of the main values of a workshop for many people, and shouldn't be shortchanged.
  • well organized follow-up
Required materials
  • overhead projector, VCR and monitor, computer, etc. for presentations
  • pencils and paper (for all participants, if the people are asked to write something, or if they might want to take notes)
  • copies to be handed out
  • easels, newsprint, and markers for recording ideas, questions, comments, or for documenting what goes on in small groups.
  • Food, coffee etc.
  • evaluation form that the participants can fill out quickly at the end of the workshop, but that covers the areas the workshop initiators really want to know
Principles, relevant parameters to be considered

Although workshops have no definite structural characteristics, it is advisable to draw up a programme, an agenda, a timetable or something similar during the preparations, so that all participants can prepare themselves and the workshop proceeds goal-oriented