The training provided is been conducted within the ECHO project. This project has received funding by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 830943

Module 3

ECHO Facilitators Guide

Learn how to get the most of your teams' discussions during the ECHO Online Hackathons. Apply different techniques to gather innovatove ideas.


Chairing a hackathon and capturing innovative ideas with participants from multiple backgrounds and countries is challenging. That is why we created this onine guide to support you with tips for chairing meetings and managing group dynamics.

Group work
Managing time

Chairing the meeting

Chairing a hackathon/ideathon is very similar to chairing a meeting. The key is to ensure that the event achieves its aims, i.e. to generate innovative ideas and market needs by enhancing the effectiveness of the participants' joint group work and to ensure that the groups' activity is relevant for solving the problem statement.  Click on each item below to expand the panel to learn more.

Follow the events' agenda

As a facilitator you need to manage the groups' work. Therefore you must ensure that the hackathon/ideathon session flows in accordance with the events' agenda. 

Respect the used formats

The ideathon organisers do set formats for recording the hackathons/findings. Double/check that you have the right format and that the note/taker records the findings in that format.

Analyse and observe

As a chairperson you need to keep a distance to the group discussions as you are the process manager. Keep a distance in order to analyse, observe and reflect what the direction of work session is and, if needed, take corrective measures on time

Hearing all participants

The facilitator must ensure that every participant in the group session is heard. Train yourself to recognize some behavioural pattern and develop skills to deal with them. The most frequent is the dominant voice, i.e. persons that tend to be overpowering. They can help the group move forward, but can also make the group unproductive by silencing others and strenghtening 'group think'. Tips to manage this are:

-Set a time limit to how much a participant can talk in a group session.

-Actively seek the opinion of persons that have not raised their voice yet in the group session.

-Periodically remind the group that the ownership of the brainstorm should lie with everyone in the group.

Group work

There are a number of tools a facilitator can use to ensure an effective group work and relevant group activity.
Click on each item below to expand the panel to learn more.

Round Robin

Group members talk in turn or specified duration of time. The facilitator should read the list of the participants and call each one when it is their turn to speak. This method allows all participants to engage in the discussion, but might have as unintended side effect that some participants might feel uncomfortable by it (e.g. due to language barriers).


With stacking group members indicate their request to speak to the facilitator by means of the Ms Teams 'hand raise function' (online events) or by physically raising their hand (physical events). The facilitator should note these requests and grant speaking time in the chronological order of the requests.

Parking space

A useful tool to divert the discussions that are not linked to the problem statements or too off-topic, is the parking space. The facilitator just can acknowledge these ideas/points in a Word document without further discussing them. This allows for the event to proceed and use the time effectively.

Managing time

Facilitators are in charge of ensuring that the agenda timeslots are respected. To do so, a key task is to manage time during the discussions. This is important as there are multiple groups participating to the event. All have to deliver their pitches to the plenary at the previously agreed moment in time.
Click on each item below to expand the panel to learn more.

Use a timer

Put a timer to set to go off ten minutes before the group work session is over. This will allow the facilitator to have sufficient time to discuss remaining points, do the wrap-up and prepare the pitch for the plenary. 

Be on time for the plenary

As said before, multiple groups participate to the event. Ensure that when it is time for the plenary pitches, other groups are not waiting for your group.

Inform the organiser of delays

Delays can happen. Just keep the organisers in the loop and inform them of any delays.

Reporting results

Facilitators are in charge of ensuring that all the groups ideas are gathered and reported to the plenary.
This is important as it allows to capture all insights and the innovation potential. 
Click on each item below to expand the panel to learn more.

Screen sharing

Screen sharing is a very effective tool for all participants to understand what is being said and what ideas are recorded. Especially in online meetings where users cannot see each other. Share on screen a MS Word document and type the ideas when they are spoken.  

Grouping of ideas

During the group sessions many ideas are shared. A useful tactic is to group ideas to facilitate the pitch to the plenary.

Delivery of pitches

To avoid (confusing) discussions during the plenary delivery of the pitches, the facilitator should ask beforehand to the group whether he/she or a group participant should present the pitch to the plenary.

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