Having gone to many conferences, I can positively say that I typically get overwhelmed. While I benefit from the content being mentioned, I can really feel drained and want for a break to decompress earlier than throwing my thoughts again into absorbing the data.

I’m certain I’m not alone in these emotions, that many people wish to soak up all we will whereas nonetheless having the chance to quickly disconnect and let our minds wander.

What we’re on the lookout for is a breakout session, the place assembly hosts perceive and accommodate for the necessity to take a break and particularly carve out time for them. This put up will clarify what a breakout session is, clarify plan for a profitable one, and current concepts that you would be able to incorporate into your subsequent assembly.

These periods are much less structured than common assembly periods, and sometimes enable attendees to take part as a substitute of merely sitting within the viewers and listening. While these periods may be associated to the general assembly content, they will additionally concentrate on unrelated matters.

Breakout periods can occur throughout each in-person and digital conferences. The former sometimes ship attendees to completely different areas of a convention venue, and the latter use breakout room features native to digital conferencing instruments. These periods are particularly necessary throughout digital conferences, the place there’s already a component of built-in disconnection as attendees are in their very own respective places.

Below we’ll go over some concepts that you should utilize to include partaking breakout periods into your upcoming conferences.

Breakout Session Ideas

There are numerous breakout periods you may plan for, like these straight associated to assembly content and others which can be entertainment-focused and contain attendees enjoying video games with one another.

Lightning Talks

Lightning talks are a nice method to break up assembly periods. They’re quick so folks can attend multiple, and a facilitator takes a set period of time to present temporary talks on a topic of their selection associated to total assembly content.

However, lightning talks can be tailored to permit facilitators to current on any matter they’re enthusiastic about, serving to attendees get to know extra about one another and let their minds drift elsewhere earlier than re-focusing on conferences.

Speed Networking

Speed networking breakout periods enable attendees to fulfill one another and set up skilled connections. You can divide folks up, set expectations, and instruct contributors to spend a set period of time speaking to 1 particular person and transferring on to a different as soon as the time is up.


Games may also help contributors let free and de-stress, particularly after they’re interactive and encourage engagement with others. These periods are completely different from the opposite concepts on this checklist as they are often much less associated to assembly content than others.

During in-person periods, you may arrange bingo video games, workforce folks as much as clear up puzzles, and even play charades. Virtual video games are attainable as properly.

Goal-setting Sessions

Goal-setting periods are nice as they will encourage contributors to assume in-depth about assembly content in a relaxed setting the place they will have conversations with others and specific their ideas. You can assign a facilitator to every breakout room, they usually can provoke a dialog about common assembly content and encourage contributors to narrate the content to their wishes.

For instance, suppose your bigger assembly is concentrated on introducing a new business-wide workflow. In that case, attendees in these periods can set objectives surrounding what they wish to accomplish with the brand new technique over the following 12 months.

Ask Me Anything (AMA) Sessions

AMA periods are a superb breakout concept, particularly if you happen to don’t have the prospect to reply everybody’s questions.

Participants may be separated into completely different rooms and teams and ask questions or specific their ideas about what has occurred in the course of the assembly, and an skilled facilitator may be there to reply them.

Outdoor Activities

Outdoor actions are finest fitted to in-person conferences the place teams of contributors can go exterior collectively. They may be much less content-focused and contain one thing like a scavenger hunt, however common breakout periods can be held outside to present contributors a change of surroundings.

However, making use of an out of doors session throughout a digital assembly can contain encouraging contributors to sign off for a couple of minutes, go exterior, and are available again and inform the group about one thing they noticed whereas they have been on the market, or to share a photograph of an merchandise you requested them to search out and determine exterior.

Open Mic Session

Open mics are at all times thrilling, and they are often nice for encouraging engagement and giving attendees a second to have enjoyable and study their friends. Open mics can focus on assembly content, like having service representatives share buyer tales, or unrelated and attendees get up and share a hidden expertise.

Drop-in Discussions

Drop-in discussions are a nice concept as you may schedule a number of completely different periods for attendees to select from. They’re additionally a low-pressure format for partaking in dialog and networking. People can navigate to a room the place the content is said to their curiosity, and even pop-in to a number of periods if they will’t determine.

While this isn’t an exhaustive checklist of concepts, they will actually be used to create and design partaking breakout periods in your subsequent assembly.

Breakout Session Examples

Below we’ll go over some real-life examples of breakout periods that may function further inspiration in your planning.

Nonprofit Leadership Center

The Nonprofit Leadership Center is a corporation that helps different nonprofits. It hosts a yearly management convention that features a number of breakout periods led by trade leaders that attendees can select from.

A Breakout session from their 2020 convention, Courageous Conversations: Understanding & Confronting Unconscious Bias with Margarita Sarmiento, mentioned create work environments that have been inclusive and constructive for all to be a part of. The breakout session associated to the overarching theme of the convention, which targeted on leading courageously.

Building On Our Momentum (BOOM)

Mount Holyoke College hosts an annual variety convention referred to as Building On Our Momentum, the place group members are inspired to attend occasions and study variety, fairness, and inclusion in stay talks and recorded content.

The 2021 BOOM conference incorporates numerous breakout periods to assist attendees have interaction with content in smaller teams and decompress from hard-hitting matters that they might be studying about.

One of the periods, Tuesday Crafternoon: Zines, encourages attendees to get inventive and create a zine whereas concurrently studying about their historical past and use in marginalized communities.


INBOUND is HubSpot’s annual advertising and marketing convention that options a large number of alternatives, together with breakout periods. During these periods, attendees can decompress, additional have interaction with content, and join with different contributors.

Meetup: Black at INBOUND, an INBOUND 2020 breakout session, created a secure area for Black attendees to fulfill different professionals, community, and focus on matters of curiosity.

Breakout Session Template

Given the advantages that they will present, it’s important to know plan for, and lead, a profitable breakout session. Let’s go over some ideas.

1. Set designated time frames.

As breakout periods are particular intervals between foremost assembly periods, it’s essential to set particular time frames wherein they may happen. Take notice of the session’s exercise, how lengthy it would take, and intention to stay to that schedule.

2. Set session objectives.

Breakout periods which can be particularly designed for attendees to decompress are nice, however, no matter intention, it’s important to set objectives, so contributors know what to anticipate.

Maybe it’s merely simply to community and make dialog, but it surely may be to stipulate private objectives. Letting folks know what to anticipate helps you make sure that these periods keep targeted and attendees can accomplish every part inside the desired timeframe.

3. Design seating to enhance the breakout format.

This tip is extra associated to in-person periods, however important nonetheless. It’s necessary to create seating preparations and arrange assembly areas that complement and facilitate the session intent.

For instance, a room full of spherical tables wouldn’t be conducive to a velocity networking session the place two individuals are in dialogue with one another. Understand what you need contributors to perform in the course of the choice, and design a assembly area accordingly.

4. Use the proper gear.

Using the suitable gear is related to each in-person and digital breakout periods, as you’ll wish to guarantee you could have every part you want forward of time. For instance, suppose you’re main a breakout session recreation. In that case, you wish to just remember to have all the mandatory supplies to run the session easily, like sufficient items for all contributors and printable directions to discuss with in the course of the recreation.

Having the suitable gear can also be necessary as a result of these periods are supposed to assist folks decompress, so that you don’t wish to go away folks ready or pressured about what’s about to occur, particularly throughout digital occasions.

All in all, breakout periods are invaluable points of conferences, each digital and in-person. They give attendees a likelihood to attach with different contributors, assume deeply about assembly content, and usually have enjoyable and interesting conversations.

Leverage the recommendations on this checklist when planning in your subsequent assembly, and also you’ll doubtless obtain suggestions from attendees that the periods have been partaking, thrilling, and have impressed them to attend your subsequent occasion.

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