How to Conduct a Stakeholder Workshop


A stakeholder workshop is one way to engage stakeholders – those who are affected by, have a direct interest in, or are somehow involved with the problem identified during the situation analysis, and gatekeepers – those who control access to people or resources needed – when developing a social and behavior change communication (SBCC) strategy. The program team invites stakeholders and gatekeepers to a short workshop to seek their input on the proposed program or to achieve consensus.

Why Conduct a Stakeholder Workshop?

Engaging and receiving input from stakeholders and gatekeepers is critical to the success of an SBCC program. Conducting a stakeholder workshop helps the program team understand the context for the program and receive support from key players. The purpose for a workshop will depend on what the program team needs from stakeholders and gatekeepers. A stakeholder workshop can be held to:

Who Should Conduct a Stakeholder Workshop?

Members of the program team should organize and conduct the stakeholder workshop. Team members should consider whether other stakeholders, such as government counterparts, should be involved and at what level of the planning process.

When Should a Stakeholder Workshop Be Conducted?

A stakeholder workshop should be conducted after reviewing and organizing data collected during the situation analysis, program analysis and audience analysis.

Learning Objectives

After completing the activities in the stakeholder workshop guide, the team will:

  • Guide stakeholders in reaching consensus on the problem and vision.
  • Collect more complete or in-depth information about the health problem, people affected/implicated and context by working with stakeholders.
  • Understand stakeholder-based insights that help inform the selection of audiences, messages, activities and communication channels.

Estimated Time Needed

Preparing for and completing a stakeholder workshop can take up to one month. Although the workshop itself may only take one day, preparation can take several weeks. There are many tasks that should be conducted prior to the actual stakeholder workshop, i



Step 1: Set the Goal and Objectives

The workshop goal should determine its design and who is invited to participate. The program team should clarify exactly what is needed from stakeholders. A workshop to obtain stakeholder buy-in or consensus might look very different from a workshop to fill information gaps. Break the workshop goal into concrete objectives to achieve during the workshop.

GoalFill information gaps related to the priority audience and how best to reach them.
ObjectivesIncrease understanding of the specific sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of married youthIncrease knowledge of the best ways to meet the SRH needs of married youthIdentify priority channels and actions for reaching married youth

Step 2: Agree on Roles and Responsibilities

Determine what tasks (responsibilities) need to be accomplished prior to and during the workshop. Decide who will oversee workshop preparation and implementation, handle logistics, prepare presentations and reference materials, facilitate workshop sessions, invite participants, take notes and summarize findings, and handle any other workshop-related activities.

Develop, follow, and update a work plan that outlines roles and responsibilities, deadlines and status to ensure everyone knows their roles and stays on track (see templates for planning tool).

Step 3: Identify Stakeholders and Gatekeepers to Invite

Consult with program staff to identify stakeholders and gatekeepers to invite. Participants should include those who know something about the issue or are affected by it (stakeholders) and those who control access to people or resources needed (gatekeepers). Seek an optimal number and diversity of participants for accomplishing workshop objectives. Having too many or too few participants can make it more difficult to get the depth and breadth of input needed. A suggested maximum number would be no more than 60 and a minimum of 20 to ensure meaningful participation by everyone while having enough diversity and representation to get full and complete input into the process. Identifying the right stakeholders and ensuring their full participation can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful workshop. The chart below lists common types of stakeholders and gatekeepers, and what type of information or perspective they are likely to provide.

WhoInformation or perspective they are likely to provideSample information
Program Staff and ManagersProject direction, duration, and limitations.The focus of the project should be on increasing the use of long acting FP methods
Technical or Topic Specialists, including health workers or service providersUp-to-date and accurate information on the health issue.Accurate information on which FP methods are locally available.
Funding Agency RepresentativesBudget allowances, restrictions and limitations for the project.Information on funds available for a project.
Local Ministry RepresentativesUp-to-date information about ministry policies and priorities.Information on current funding for family planning and policy requirements for health facilities.
Local Leaders, including traditional and religious leadersCommunity and religious level barriers or facilitators that encourage or prevent the audience from adopting positive health behaviors.Information about community events that could be utilized for health promotion.
Audience Representatives, including those who influence the priority audienceActual knowledge, attitudes and practices of the audience, as well as information on language, terminology, and time restrictions.Information about what to call FP so that it is acceptable to the audience.
NGO RepresentativesCurrent projects that may be operating in the same area.Information about a project that could collaborate on the vision.
Researcher/EvaluatorCurrent research and evidence of current knowledge, attitudes and practices.Information about trends in FP use.

Step 4: Prepare for the Workshop

Develop a reasonable budget based on the purpose of the workshop and the likely number of participants. The budget will guide other workshop preparations, including venue selection and length of the workshop.

In preparation for the workshop, the program team should:

  • Determine the dates and duration of the workshop well in advance so that participants can plan accordingly. The duration depends on the local situation but should be a minimum of one day and could be a maximum of 3 days depending on the scope of the agenda and input required.
  • Locate and reserve a venue that meets workshop needs, including price, location, and size. Consider whether it should be a residential workshop, held at a local hotel, or at a project office building. This depends on the local situation. A residential workshop away from the capital city ensures full participation by all attending since they cannot easily slip away to their office. However, an offsite venue may make it difficult for higher-level officials to attend. Often the participation of high level officials are key at the opening and the closing so they buy into the objectives of the workshop, acknowledge its importance to the participants by their presence, and endorse the recommendations at the end.
  • Draft an agenda that will move the group through the workshop objectives. Think about workshop formalities and norms. For example:
    • Who needs to open the workshop.
    • When tea and lunch are usually served.
    • Whether participants observe prayer time at the beginning of the workshop or during the day.
    • What time participants typically arrive and leave.
    • Whether participants tend to be late or punctual.

Rarely does a workshop move as expected so be sure to budget extra time for delays. Set time limits for presentations and discussions.

Step 5: Invite Stakeholders and Gatekepers

Write an invitation letter and decide who should send out the invitation. For example, it may be necessary for the invitation to be made through the head of the ministry. Be sure to budget enough time for approval and signature. Include information on the project, the goals to be achieved and the importance of the workshop. Remember to include the dates, location, per diem or travel information (if it will be provided), and contact information.

Send out the invitation letter in advance to allow participants to plan accordingly. Follow up two or three days before the workshop to ensure participants still plan to attend.

Step 6: Organize and Prepare Workshop Resources and Presentations

Summarize the relevant situation analysis, audience analysis and program analysis findings. Use flipcharts or PowerPoint to prepare an overview of the findings. Tailor the presentation to the participants and the workshop objectives. Materials and very brief summaries of the key points can be sent to the participants for review before the workshop. Prepare the presentations in a way that ensures maximum participation and include only the information needed to achieve the objectives. Initial findings may be presented in large group discussion formats followed by small working groups with participants selected before the workshop to achieve mixed representation. These groups should include a member of the organizing agency(ies) to ensure that the group understands the task and keeps on track. Groups will then select their person(s) to report back to the plenary.

The team should prepare the following materials to be given to participants:

  • Copy of the presentation(s)
  • Agenda
  • Draft literature review or situation analysis, where feasible and appropriate
  • Worksheets or other forms to be completed during the workshop
  • Other resources that would facilitate workshop goals and objectives

Step 7: Confirm Workshop Logistics

Prior to the actual workshop, take time to confirm that all logistics are in order.

  • Confirm dates, time and food arrangements with the venue
  • Ensure adequate space, ventilation, lighting, and tables and chairs
  • Ensure technical equipment (e.g., computer, projector, screens, microphones and speakers) is available or other arrangements are made
  • Arrange for other workshop equipment and supplies as needed (e.g., notepads, pens, whiteboard and markers)
  • Gather participant and facilitator materials (e.g., PowerPoint presentations and handouts)
  • Finalize and print the workshop agenda
  • Confirm attendance of participants, facilitators and speakers
  • Prepare information for payments to the vendor or, if providing it, per diem for participants

Step 8: Set Up the Workshop

On the day of the workshop, arrive early to ensure the venue is set up appropriately and the technology is working. Have a back-up plan in case the technology fails. Lay out any supplies or materials that may be needed during the days so that they are easily accessible for the facilitators and participants.

Step 9: Open the Workshop and Introduce the Purpose

Create a participatory atmosphere and set clear expectations from the beginning to save time and help ensure success.

  1. Open the workshop with any formalities and by introducing the topic, purpose and objectives.
  2. Invite participants to introduce themselves to each other. Consider who is present in the room and how participants interact with each other. Introductions can be done in various forms including fun icebreakers (see Resources for facilitation tips), having participants interview each other and then introduce their new friend but stating their name and three key point of professional and personal information about them (e.g. likes/dislikes, hobbies, something no one know about them, etc.)
  3. Review the agenda, elicit participant expectations, and agree on workshop norms. Clarify if any expectations are outside the scope of the workshop. Provide space for participants to contribute. Participant expectations and workshop norms are best determined by a brainstorming session with comments written on flipcharts and having the participants agree on the lists at the beginning of the workshop. These are posted on the walls in the room and referred to throughout the workshop if the norms are violated. The expectations are again reviewed at the end of the workshop and participants can decide if the expectations were met.

Depending on the goal(s) of the workshop, the emphasis might be on step 10, 11, or 12.

Step 10: Present and Refine Problem Statement and Shared Vision

Ensure that stakeholders and gatekeepers understand the problem statement and agree that the stated problem should be addressed. Incorporate useful suggestions for better stating the problem.

After the problem has been agreed upon, present the draft vision that guided the desk review. Let participants know that the ultimate vision must be theirs, then invite and document their input. Finalize the shared vision with them.

Step 11: Present and Validate Findings

Present a brief overview of key findings from the desk review. Then present and discuss in detail with participants the issues of concern which relate to the objectives of the workshop (e.g., “Who does the problem affect?” “What is currently being done about the problem?”).

Step 12: Gather Stakeholder and Gatekeeper Input

Conduct discussions and activities needed to achieve the goal of the workshop. The questions to be answered or gaps to be filled need to be clearly stated so the groups understand the specific task or problem they are to address. Try to vary the techniques used to present information and gather participant input. Look at creative techniques for brainstorming, large group discussions, or small group work. Small group members should have been pre-selected to ensure that there is equal representation of all levels and organizational affiliation. This will help keep participants engaged (see Resources for more specific information on participatory approaches).

Discussions and activities will depend on the purpose of the workshop, for example:




To understand the context

Gather contextual information about the community or society that impacts the health problem or the people affected by it. Explore how the SBCC effort and communities/ systems/ programs can interact to improve the health situation.

Small task groups with group presentations;


Community case studies;

Open-ended stories

To prioritize audiences

Get advice on which audiences to prioritize and on the communication channels they prefer. Present potential audiences and engage stakeholders in determining which are the priority and influencing audiences the SBCC strategy must address.


Small task groups;

Relationship strings exercises;

Ranking, rating, and sorting

To validate communication challenge

Discuss the causes identified and whether there should be any intervening steps. Verify that the root cause is truly a root cause, and that it is something that can be addressed by the stakeholders.

Root cause analysis;

VIPP discussion;

Flow diagrams

To gather information on and prioritize available communication channels

Gain input on how best to reach the likely audiences, including:

  • How the audiences prefer to be engaged on health issues (e.g., interpersonal, community, mass media).
  • The audiences’ access to various forms of media (e.g., television, community, social).
  • Current health communication efforts and communication resources that are potentially available to the SBCC effort.

Partner discussion then share;


Ranking, rating, and sorting

Step 13: Summarize Findings

After the workshop is complete, organize what was learned or confirmed during the workshop. It may be helpful to draft a report to summarize the information. See the Samples section for a sample report. Use findings from the stakeholder workshop to inform additional qualitative research and, subsequently, the strategy design of the SBCC campaign.


Stakeholder Engagement Plan Template

Stakeholder Analysis Matrix

Template for Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Stakeholder Mapping Tool

Stakeholder Workshop Planning Template


(S)BCC National Stakeholder Alignment Workshop

Sample Internal Stakeholder Workshop Agenda and Moderator Guide

Stakeholder Interview Script

Stakeholder Mapping Tool

Sample Stakeholder Meeting Agenda

ARH Stakeholder Workshop Meeting Summary

Responding to the HIV-related Needs of MSM in Africa: Workshop Guide

CSP Creative Meeting Programme Agenda

CSP Creative Workshop Report

Tips & Recommendations

  • Draw on the experience, expertise and insights of the stakeholders and those who have worked on the topic before. Set aside your own beliefs and values and keep an open mind to learning.
  • The Social Ecological Model of human development provides a system for thinking about who the stakeholders might be at the individual, family and peer, community and society levels, and their roles.

Glossary & Concepts

  • Stakeholders are those who are affected by, have a direct interest in or are somehow involved with the health problem.
  • Gatekeepers are those who control access to the audience.
  • Audience is any group of people whom the SBCC strategy might choose to reach, using various communication channels.
  • Priority audience refers to a group of people whom the SBCC practitioners have decided are the most important group to address, in order to reduce the size of the health problem through behavior change.
  • Influencing Audience refers to those people who have the most significant and direct influence (positive or negative) over the priority audience.
  • Root cause analysis is a systematic process for uncovering the ultimate causes of the health problem.
  • Harvesting is a list building activity where a facilitator breaks participants into small groups, then asks each group for examples of what they learned about a topic.
  • Community case studies: A case study is a description and analysis of a specific situation or issue from a local perspective. This can be presented in a form that is most comfortable to the community. The purpose of a case study is to increase knowledge and understanding of any given community situation, and to generate information for initial analysis, generation of baselines, or to review issues and activities.
  • Mapping: Community mapping focuses on maps produced by the group to assist with planning, assessing change, constructing community/institutional profiles, monitoring or evaluation. The aim is to find out what people know, and how they see their own territory and situation. This allows insight into local perceptions, and the process of group work opens opportunities for discussion and rapport-building.
  • Relationship strings exercise: In this exercise, participants stand in a circle holding a handful of strings. Each person hands one end of a string to somebody she has links to and repeats the process. This produces a web of strings that shows relationships, bonds, and conflicts.
  • Ranking, rating, and sorting exercise: These simple tools provide information about preferences and choices, making them among the most useful and adaptable. The tools provide insight to individual or group decisionmaking, and identify the criteria that people use to select certain items or activities. As well as demonstrating needs and priorities, the exercises can be repeated at different phases of a development process to monitor changes in preference. The process itself facilitates discussion and analysis.
  • VIPP discussion: a people-centered approach to planning, training and other group events. It combines techniques of visualization with methods for interactive learning. At the core of VIPP is the use of a large number of multi-colored paper cards of different shapes and sizes on which the participants express their main ideas in large enough letters or diagrams to be seen by the whole group. The clustered cards are photographed, scanned or photocopied for each participant as a collective memory.
  • Flow diagrams: This method of problem analysis illustrates relationships between situations, problems, and their causal relationships on a flow diagram, or web, of inter-connected text blocks or sketches. It is useful to analyse and prioritise local perceptions of problems, relationships surrounding problems, possible causes and potential solutions.
  • Open-ended stories have either the beginning, middle or ending of a relevant story, purposely left out. The participants discuss what might happen in the part of the story that has been purposely omitted. Usually, the beginning will tell a story about a problem, the middle will tell a story about a solution, and the end will tell a story of an outcome. The purpose is therefore to facilitate discussion within the group, explore problems and solutions, and identify people with ideas and skills.
  • Small task groups: Break participants up into smaller groups and assign them a task to complete. Have them report back to the larger group after completing the task.

Resources and References


Stakeholder Engagement Tool

Managers Who Lead Toolkit—Resources to Support Managers Who Lead

Visualization in Participatory Programs: A Manual for Facilitators and Trainers Involved In Participatory Group Events

Facilitation Skills Workbook

Stakeholder Engagement

Planning a Workshop

Responding to the HIV-related Needs of MSM in Africa: Workshop Guide

Internal Stakeholder Engagement Workshop Toolkit

Common Facilitation Techniques

The Role of a Facilitator

The Stakeholder Engagement Handbook

Participatory Approaches: A Facilitator’s Guide

Games and Exercises

Sample Internal Stakeholder Workshop Agenda and Moderator Guide

The Facilitation Primer


10 Steps to Planning a Workshop

How to Organize a Workshop: 7 Tips for Multi-Day Training

Banner Photo: © 2014 Juan Daniel Torres, Courtesy of Photoshare