At corporate events, trainings, conferences and symposia, breakout meetings provide attendees with opportunities to explore event topics and themes in greater depth and to brainstorm with peers on how to integrate event outcomes into their lives and workplaces. But breakout meetings don’t just come together by themselves. When event planners include breakouts in event agendas, they need to provide the same level of focus, attention to detail and promotion as they invest in producing keynotes, tutorials and other “main line” program sessions.
To ensure the success of breakout meetings at your next corporate event or conference, the Temple Rock Productions team has put together a list of Dos and Don’ts for your consideration.
3 DOS FOR YOUR UPCOMING EVENT BREAKOUT SESSIONS:
- Do promote breakout meetings as high-value activities – remember to include breakout session topics and times in event emails, web pages, social media and other promotion. If your event supports session preregistration, do let attendees sign up early for breakouts as well as main-stage talks and tutorials.
- Do make it easy to participate – remind mainline session attendees of upcoming breakout meetings. Reward event attendees for joining breakout sessions with event swag, cocktail tickets or entry into drawings. Make breakout activities inclusive and consider requiring company employees to participate in one or more breakout sessions, with recognition for their presence.
- Do track popularity of sessions from the current and previous events – the hottest mainline sessions will inspire the greatest breakout attendance. Do allocate rooms and seating for breakouts that explore key event topics and draw large audiences. Use mainline and breakout attendance stats collected previously for guidance on interest level and resource needs.
CONVERSELY, AVOID THE FOLLOWING 3 COMMON BREAKOUT MISTAKES:
- Don’t overpack breakout agendas – breakout meetings let attendees take deeper dives into event subject matter. Covering too much ground in a single session can frustrate participants wanting to ask follow-up questions, offer their own ideas and opinions and mix with other attendees. So, keep breakout agendas short and sweet and open, to encourage interaction and collaboration.
- Don’t forget the roles and interests of attendees – breakouts should focus on engaging attendees for maximum impact and amplifying the messages from keynotes and other sessions. Consider the professional and personal profiles of session attendees when building breakout schedules and agendas. Don’t hesitate to recruit specific confirmed attendees to enliven your breakouts.
- Don’t under-resource breakout session support – breakout meetings may be small in scale, but they have key basic requirements for success: easy to find, comfortable rooms; sufficient seating; light catering; and knowledgeable session leaders with experience in conducting these types of sessions.
Post-event polls reveal that attendees appreciate well-executed breakout meetings on a par with main stage events and other agenda items. Even more than keynotes or tutorials, breakouts provide event planners and sponsors with opportunities to engage directly with participants, to gather feedback, address questions, strengthen branding and establish longer-lasting one-on-one relationships.