Five fingers-expectations

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With help of this method you are facilitating a conversation on expectations of participants and facilitators toward a common learning event, giving the human needs place.

Time 60 minutes

Material Standard

Group Size 16 people

Keywords Expectations, needs, holistic learning


Working Between Cultures


Handbook #2
Holistic Learning

E. Heublein, N. Zimmermann

Second Handbook for Facilitators: Read more


The aim of this activity is to make transparent the expectations of participants and facilitators regarding content and cooperation. This allows the planning of content, goals, and methods to be need-focused.

Background: Five fields of needs


When planning and organizing a seminar, there are a host of aspects you consider as a facilitator. Imagine your participants’ needs are represented by a hand with five fingers. Each finger stands for a different type of need:

  • 1. Social,
  • 2. Physical,
  • 3. Intellectual,
  • 4. Emotional and
  • 5. Spiritual.

In your seminar there should be a space for covering all five needs. If one is missing, your participants will (un)consciously notice/feel that it is lacking. Of course, not every one of us feels every need with the same intensity. It depends on the situation, activity, personality etc. There are participants for whom the emotional level of the seminar is extremely important, and others who prefer to concentrate on the intellectual part.

As a facilitator with your own individual preferences, you do not have to give equal attention and space to all spheres. If you're working in a team let other team members “take care” of “their” preferred levels. In many situations, it is also preferable to empower your participants to organize themselves and fulfill their own needs in the seminar as they crop up. It is crucial though, that you pay attention to the changing needs of your group, inform them of your observations, and empower/remind them to take initiative.


1. Draw the Five fingers model on a pinboard and explain it to your participants.

2. Individual work: Participants are asked to note down their needs and expectations regarding the seminar on cards (1-3 keywords only on each card). [10 minutes]

3. Plenum: The cards are read aloud and stuck in the appropriate category on the pinboard. Participants are encouraged to ask questions if anything is unclear. [35 to 45 minutes]

4. The trainer sums up the participants’ expectations and comments, and adds the expectations of the trainers. [10 minutes]

5. Discussion and negotiation in the plenum. The aim is to reach a consensus in terms of seminar planning. If necessary, the program should be adjusted to address participants’ needs.


E. Heublein, N. Zimmermann (Ed.): Holistic Learning

Eliza Skowron


Co-founder Working Between Cultures, born in Poland, studies at Jagielloian UniversityKraków (Polen). Facilitator and expert for constructive communication, Anti-Bias, train-the-trainer, author in Competendo.


There is a great deal of flexibility as to how much trainers position themselves at this early stage of the seminar with regard to different comments. When evaluating the seminar, trainers and participants should refer back to their expectations, to check to what extent they have been fulfilled.


Use an expectation box instead of a plenum: Participants drop their cards inside anonymously. Trainers can then evaluate them later during their planning sessions. Alternatively, small groups of participants can go through the cards and summarize the aspects described.