It’s becoming standard practice for sizeable conferences to provide facilities for breakout sessions – where attendees are divided into small groups to discuss a topic following a main presentation. If not planned correctly, these can be an ineffective use of time and lead to missed opportunities in providing targeted and interactive attendee content.
Here’s how to create memorable breakout sessions at your next conference or event:
Consider first of all whether attendees actually need a breakout or just a break? Breakouts are intended to provide guests with an opportunity to discuss, network and innovate. These sessions won’t be successful if the attendees aren’t energized and are in need of a rest. Adding more breaks makes the breakout sessions more productive.
Before starting the session, introduce and clarify one or two objectives. Selecting interesting and provocative questions can propel the session. Whereas, if the objectives are unclear, the discussion may become aimless and unfocused.
Select the right spaces and group leaders
Consider the logistics of what you are trying to achieve – attendees need to be able to be heard easily. Doing this in a room with a number of other groups can be frustrating and difficult to accomplish. This makes the selection of venue even more vital – it needs to be suitable for a large presentation whilst simultaneously offering areas for thoughtful collaboration.
By breaking into smaller groups, you need to identify appropriate people to present the topic or questions to be discussed. It’s a difficult job to get right so be sure to choose people with leadership skills who can guide the conversation.
What better way to improve your breakout sessions than receiving feedback from your previous ones? It is the perfect way to find out just what you should keep and what needs improving. Questions can be asked in person after the event or via email feedback form once the event has passed.
When they are carefully organised, breakout sessions are a powerful outlet for attendees to generate and share ideas whilst reviewing and absorbing information. They can increase engagement and ensure that information is retained and understood once the event is over.