Event Breakout Sessions: Strategies and Ideas

Feb 9, 2022

Breakout sessions have the potential to be the most powerful, impactful, and engaging parts of almost any online event. These sessions are short group activities that allow attendees to brainstorm different ideas that surround the event’s general theme, after which the breakout groups rejoin the main group to report the results of their discussion.

These valuable forums give attendees a chance to share skills and insights, explore common issues, and brainstorm solutions in a less-structured format than informal meetings. They also help increase attendee engagement as they’re relied upon by other session participants for input and give newer employees a chance to learn from company experts, who are usually called upon to facilitate.

Strategies for creating engaging breakout sessions

One of the biggest benefits of online breakout sessions is that you don’t have to worry about the number of attendees in each group. Group sizes are completely scalable, and sessions are easily tailored to attendees’ needs.

However, some strategic planning is necessary to ensure that your breakout sessions are well-attended and help you reach your objectives. Here are some tips to help you start your planning:

  • Poll your participants for session ideas: Your attendees will enjoy being part of the decision-making process as well as your interest in their needs. Design your sessions around data collected by pre-event surveys to help maximize interest and excitement.
  • Decide on the best session format: The session format should reflect your goal for each breakout. For example, interactive workshops and roundtable sessions are the best formats if your goal is to create engagement. Presentation-style sessions work well when sharing stories from leaders or guest speakers. If you’re planning a session to get people moving, unwinding, or relaxing, participatory sessions are the most appropriate.
  • Get your attendees to pre-register for breakout sessions early: Pre-registration is critical for two reasons. First, knowing how many people will be attending helps you set expectations and plan accordingly, especially if you’re holding interactive group workshops. Secondly, it will uncover low-interest options you can adjust to increase interest or cut from the schedule altogether. However, be prepared to accommodate last-minute registrants
  • Consider drop-in sessions: On-the-fly sessions that don’t require pre-registration bring value too. Morning networking “over-coffee”, midday mindfulness exercises, or afternoon creative activities can help attendees regain energy for the more involved sessions.
  • Choose your facilitators carefully: Your breakout facilitators need to add value to the sessions and create a great event experience. This means leading without being controlling, and encouraging independent problem-solving and idea generation. They must also be adept at engaging attendees, maintaining and monitoring session pace, overseeing post-workshop discussions, and closing the session on a positive note
Business person taking notes during breakout pitch session.

Creative breakout session ideas

Many breakout sessions are modeled after roundtable discussions: a space that promotes equitable participation in a conversation or debate. However, you can really spice things up for your virtual breakout sessions with creative ideas that will boost registration and engagement rates. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Pitch sessions: Invite the different groups to develop solutions that solve a particular problem. The problem can be fun and not relate directly to your business to ease pressure on participants. You might be surprised at the level of problem-solving your people have. Offer a prize to ramp up the competitive spirit!
  • Business book discussions: Choose a business or leadership book before the event, so participants have a chance to read and prepare their thoughts. You can separate your attendees by participants (who read the book) and attendees (who didn’t read it but can still listen in). If you can, invite the author to facilitate the discussion.
  • Networking opportunities: Create one-on-one networking sessions where attendees can learn about different divisions in your company, which can help them plan their next career move. Match people using AI to connect people with the most relevant individuals.
  • Open mic: Host a TED Talk-style event where a corporate speaker or special guest can share stories that create meaningful connections with the audience and inspire them to take positive action toward their goals.
  • Leadership mentoring: This is the perfect opportunity for workers to connect with your leadership team and learn more about the organization, possible career paths, and tips on becoming future company superstars. Create different themes such as “Sharing Virtual Coffee” as a fun way to kickstart the conversation.
  • Trip planning: This can be a fun and exciting challenge in which you pick several points of interest and have teams develop the best route to visit them all and return to the point of origin. They can use Google to find addresses but not provide routes or times. Let teams present their routes with their reasonings to the entire group and present a prize to the winner.

Partner with the right livestream production team

Running a virtual event doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with the right experts on your side. Your production team has all the technology you need for a successful online event, including the complete technical management of your breakout session.

Whether you’re holding breakout sessions as part of a town hall, AGM, or other corporate events where a positive attendee experience is critical, LiveMeeting’s streaming solutions can help. Every aspect of your livestream and breakout sessions will be managed for you, including complete production of the livestream, attendee registration, pre and post-survey management, and much more. All you have to do is enjoy your event – we’ll take care of the rest.

Experience our streaming solution to discover how our cutting-edge technology will elevate your next livestream. Contact us today for a free demonstration!