Following these steps can help ensure your exercise goes smoothly. Click on a step to learn more.



Pre-event preparations

In the final two weeks leading up to the exercise, a number of tasks need to be completed to make sure everything is ready to go. Some tasks may be completed much earlier, depending on your overall timeline.


Final Tasks

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Create materials

Creating a packet of materials that will be sent to participants via email prior to the event will give them time to familiarize themselves with the information. If paper handouts are necessary, they can be printed and distributed the day of the event. Make sure to check in with each of the working groups so that all needed information is included.


Example items for participant packets

Source: Cedar Rapids Multi-Hazard Tournament

Example items for participant worksheet screenshot

Download example items


Keep the amount of material you hand out at a minimum. Most documents can be emailed prior to the event. A situation where printed-out materials might be needed is if the group is looking at state plans or policies. You can bring a couple of hard copies along and pass them around as needed.


Engage participants

Communicating with participants in the final weeks and days leading up to the exercise will help them know what to expect, how to prepare, and foster participation at the event. The more complex the exercise, the more pre-event communication is needed.


Pre-event communication helps energize and engage participants

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Finalize logistics

The days leading up to the actual exercise can be hectic. Take time to confirm that all logistics are in order.


Day of event logistics




The day of the exercise has arrived and you’re ready to kick off the exercise. Managing the event includes balancing the audience experience and the behind-the-scenes details.


Tasks to help manage the exercise delivery

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Prepare the space

Arrive with plenty of time to move tables around, set out materials and sign-in sheets, and test any electronic equipment. It’s a good idea to have a team meeting with all facilitators/team members the day before or morning of the event to go over the details and answer any questions.


Logistics for the day of the exercise



Set the tone

The beginning of the meeting sets the tone. This starts with greeting people as they enter the room and engaging them in conversation about why they are there. You can also post a discussion question at the front of the room and ask participants to talk about it with each other. This helps avoid those awkward moments of silence before the workshop starts and can help people feel more comfortable participating throughout the workshop.


a marker board that shows the rules of engagement for the drought exercise
Sample drought exercise ground rules from the North Platte NRD Drought Tournament


Set and discuss ground rules or rules of engagement, so that participants know what’s expected of them. Ground rules can help:

  • Encourage respectful listening
  • Increase the sharing of ideas and perspectives
  • Prevent conflict and misunderstanding
  • Manage problems before and as they occur
  • Build trust

Groups tend to accept rules they’ve set themselves, so, when possible, allow participants to be part of the process of developing these. If no one has suggestions, add ideas to jumpstart the process. When finished, seek agreement and post the rules where everyone can see them.


Communicate clear guidelines

Take the time to run through the exercise objectives and agenda. This helps ensure that everyone understands their role and what the group is seeking to achieve. When starting your facilitated activities, clearly explain what you are asking of participants so there is no confusion.


Tips for starting group activities


Listen, engage, and include

At this stage of exercise management, your number one goal should be to keep people involved.


Tips for managing discussions


Wrap up

In the final phase of the workshop, bring the group back together to wrap things up. You may want to go through a formal, facilitated activity or you may just want to ask some questions and listen to what people have to say.


Steps for wrapping up your scenario-based exercise



Once the exercise is over, there are a handful of tasks that need to be done to wrap up the event and get final information out to the participants.


Post-workshops tasks