Conferences are incomplete without breakout sessions, and as a planner, it is crucial to make these sessions impactful for your attendees. Participation from attendees is imperative, and creating opportunities for them to share their experiences or ask questions, is a key ingredient to guarantee effective breakout sessions that will leave your attendees satisfied. We suggest interactive formats that involve group discussions, Q&A sessions or hands-on activities. But to set you up for success here are a few pointers to keep in mind, to make sure you have the right plan in place before your attendees arrive:
Plan ahead: Start planning your breakout sessions well in advance of the conference. Consider what topics would be most relevant to your audience and what types of speakers or facilitators would be most engaging.
Engage speakers/facilitators: Once you have identified potential speakers or facilitators for your breakout sessions, engage with them early on to ensure that they understand the purpose and goals of the conference and can tailor their presentation accordingly.
Focus on interactive formats: Breakout sessions that involve interactive formats such as group discussions, Q&A sessions, or hands-on activities tend to be more impactful than traditional lecture-style presentations. Try to incorporate these formats into your sessions as much as possible.
Encourage participation: Encourage attendees to actively participate in the breakout sessions by providing opportunities for them to ask questions, share their experiences, or work on group activities. This can help to create a more collaborative and engaging session.
Follow up: Follow up with attendees after the conference to gather feedback on the breakout sessions. Use this feedback to improve your planning for future conferences and to ensure that you continue to deliver impactful breakout sessions that meet the needs of your audience.
Now that you’ve got the structure of your conference programming, and identified the need to build a proper breakout session format, it often happens that at conferences or large meetings, attendees can feel disconnected and unwilling to network or collaborate. But it is important that they do because the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals and engage in meaningful discussion can make a big difference in the attendee experience.
But how do you encourage participation for impactful breakout sessions?
Here are 10 concepts that work really well for getting people sharing and collaborating:
1. Speed Networking
Set up a speed networking event by providing attendees with a list of questions to ask each other. It’s a great way to get people connecting quickly and efficiently.
2. Panel Discussions
Invite industry leaders to participate in a panel discussion. Prepare some thought-provoking questions for them to answer, and let the discussion flow naturally.
3. Roundtable Discussions
This is a more intimate variation of panel discussions, where attendees exchange views on a particular topic. Assign a facilitator to each table and give them a specific topic to discuss.
Give attendees a problem to solve and have them brainstorm solutions in small groups. Invite them to present their ideas to the larger group.
5. Interactive Presentations
Incorporate technology and interactive elements into your presentations. For instance, use live polling or quizzes to keep attendees engaged.
6. Ice Breaker Games
Start your breakout session with a fun and engaging icebreaker game to get attendees relaxed and comfortable.
7. Debate Sessions
Have attendees debate a controversial topic. It’s a great way to stimulate conversation and challenge people’s opinions.
8. Role-Playing Activities
Have attendees role-play different scenarios related to the conference theme. It’s a great way to demonstrate different perspectives and challenge attendees to think outside the box.
9. Escape Room Challenges
Bring the popular escape room concept to your breakout session. Create a challenging puzzle or scavenger hunt that will require attendees to work together to solve.
10. Networking Lunches
Organize networking lunches for attendees. Assign seating arrangements to ensure attendees get to connect and have meaningful conversations with each other.
Looking for more ideas for engaging and impactful breakout sessions that help attendees connect? Give us a call anytime, and when ready to start planning your next conference or event.
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