The article was created as part of the „Skrzydła dla STOP” project carried out by the Polish NGO Trainers’ Association (STOP) financed by the NIW-CRSO as part of The Civil Society Organisations Development Programme for 2018-2030 PROO.

A practical checklist for your educational activity from the NVC perspective

Is your educational activity REALLY meeting the learners’ needs?

No matter if your next educational activity is going to take place online or offline, you are surely putting all efforts to make it as successful as possible. You certainly would love your training or workshop to both bring the desired result and – at the same time – be pleasant and enjoyable for the learners.

To increase your chance of succeeding, I recommend looking at your training plan from the perspective of Nonviolent Communication, and in this article, you will find a practical checklist to help you with this task!

Nonviolent Communication (or NVC) is not “yet another training method” but a way of looking at understanding yourself and interacting with other people in all areas of life. The creator and promoter of NVC was Marshall Rosenberg (1934-2015), an American psychologist. You can read more about NVC e.g. at the website of the Centre for Nonviolent Communication.

Behind our behaviour and words, there are always feelings, and these in turn result from our needs – satisfied or unsatisfied. According to NVC, there are a few categories of needs, e.g. needs for physical well-being, connection, meaning and others (see the checklist below).

When your participants’ needs will be met, they will feel a range of positive feelings – it can be happiness, joy, pride, contentment, peace and many more.

On the other hand, if the training does not respond to their needs, they may leave the training room sad, angry, fearful, depressed, or irritated.

It is absolutely essential to consider the participants’ needs when designing the training! As a result, we will give our group the best possible experience, and thanks to the satisfied needs, participants will have more readiness for learning and change.

You may ask: how to ensure I take care of all types of needs? How not forget about some category?

To help you with this task, I prepared a checklist that you can use at the preparation stage of your training or another educational activity.

Go through the list and tick the statements that apply to you.

Check how need-friendly you are, and which categories may need further consideration!

Remember that not all questions might be relevant to your context. For example, not all of them will be useful during online training, so feel free to modify them. E.g. “Will there be access to water in the room?” can be replaced with “Will I give my participants the option to step away from the screen for a while if they need to refill the glass?”.

You can also add your own questions!


NEED FOR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING e.g. water, air, physical safety, movement/exercise, rest

  • There will be access to water and other drinks during the training.
  • The organizer will provide some snacks or a meal during breaks.
  • It will be possible to regulate room temperature and open the windows.
  • The room is safe and adapted for educational activities, e.g. properly separated from the rest of the office and quiet.
  • There are enough coffee breaks and other rest moments in the programme.
  • The programme includes tasks that involve or allow movement.

NEED FOR MEANING e.g. learning, growth, challenge, purpose, self-awareness, self-expression

  • At the beginning of each module, I plan to explain which competencies and skills we will develop, and what benefits it will bring the group.
  • In the programme, I included tasks with a higher level of difficulty that may be challenging but, at the same time, which the group should be able to complete successfully with my support.
  • I foresee time for reflection and drawing conclusions. I have chosen a reflection method, e.g. during a conversation in pairs, in the form of a worksheet, in a learning diary…
  • I anticipate moments of celebrating achievement, e.g. during a feedback session or at a diploma awarding ceremony.

NEED FOR AUTONOMY e.g. freedom, space, choice, choosing your own goals and values ​​and choosing your way of achieving the goals

  • I plan to ask the group for consent to certain elements of the training, e.g. energisers.
  • I will create a training contract together with the group, which will include e.g. agreement regarding work rules, break times, and punctuality.
  • My activities include a degree of freedom and choice – e.g. regarding the choice of a task, case study, group composition, or how to work and complete a task.
  • I have a plan regarding the boundaries of participants’ freedom of choice, e.g. how I will react to a participant’s decision not to join a game or to leave the class early.

NEED FOR PLAY e.g. fun, humour, adventure, inspiration, variety, joy

  • My training contains fun elements.
  • I will try to create an atmosphere where jokes and laughter are welcome.
  • I will present the training as a fascinating adventure, not torture.
  • I have ensured a variety of methods which will minimise the risk of fatigue and boredom.
  • To the extent possible, I have prepared some inspiring stories, training gadgets or other surprises.

NEED FOR CONNECTION e.g., contact with others, empathy, respect, acceptance, cooperation, sharing sorrows and joys, support

  • The training program involves teamwork.
  • I have foreseen sharing moments, and they are of appropriate length, adequate to the topic and the size of the group.
  • I will create a respectful atmosphere, for example by setting appropriate and inclusive working rules and intervening in the event of hate speech or any other disrespectful behaviour.
  • The content of the training allows participants to receive feedback.
  • I care about equal opportunities for all participants and I have a plan for how to ensure equal and just treatment of all, regardless their gender, nationality, social and economic background etc.

NEED FOR PEACE e.g. beauty, harmony, order, ease, contact with nature

  • My presentation and other materials are nice, aesthetic, and pleasant to receive.
  • The training room will be aesthetic. If I have a choice, I will choose a room with a window view of greenery and not e.g. a parking lot
  • The training space will be cleaned regularly, e.g. after a lunch break or after a creative activity that leaves a mess. I will not allow dirty cups and scraps of paper and used material to pile up in the room.
  • I have analysed if some activities can be carried out outdoors, e.g. in a park or garden, or if there is another possibility to have contact with nature during the programme.

How did it go? Are you happy with the score? Where do you see some room for improvement? 🙂

Good luck with your next training adventure!

Authors: Gośka Tur – combines her MA in sociology with almost 25 years experience of working as a trainer. Working in various educational settings across the world sensitised her to constantly challenge her perception of an educator. She likes to look for methods and approaches that make the biggest impact on her learners.
Project: Skrzydła dla STOP