27 Breakout Session Ideas & Tips That Will Make Your Next Company Event Awesome!

breakout session pink button on keyboard

Have you ever been to a breakout session? Breakout sessions can be a great way to bring both the physical team together and keep virtual teams motivated. They’re also an excellent way to get new ideas, fresh perspectives and a better understanding of challenges in the business.

Now you might be wondering how to make your next breakout session awesome… Well, wonder no more! Here are 27 ways that will help make your next breakout session an incredible experience for both participants and leaders within your company.

What is a Breakout Session?

Do you want your employees to be more engaged?

Do you want them to feel like they’re an important part of the team?

Do you want them to provide better customer service and have a happier work environment?

If so, then it’s time that you start hosting breakout sessions.

Breakout sessions give everyone in the company a chance to share their ideas with other members of the team. They also allow for brainstorming which is necessary during times of tough decision making or innovation.

So what exactly is a breakout session? A breakout session is an activity or discussion that happens in a separate room or virtual Zoom room, away from a main event.

Breakout sessions are designed to give participants time and space to focus on something specific without distractions. They can be used for training, getting feedback on your product or services, or a variety of other purposes.

Most people think of it as “time out,” but they should really think of it as “time in.”

Benefits of a breakout session

Breakout sessions offer so many benefits: they’re fun, interactive, inspiring – just to name a few. But the biggest benefit is how it makes employees feel valued.

It provides them with an opportunity for their thoughts and ideas to have a direct influence on company decisions – plus empower them in how they feel about themselves as well as within the organization.

As an added bonus, breakout sessions can be a really great way of engaging employees with your company’s mission and goals while also creating a positive energy in the workplace.

What do you do during a breakout session?

Just about anything!  They can be used for training, problem solving, brainstorming or just to get away from the same old boring office environment.

group of multicultural business people sitting on chairs in a circle formation involved in a fireside chat breakout session

8 Different Types of Breakout Sessions

Here’s a quick list of different breakout session ideas that you can use for your next conference or virtual team event.

1. Brainstorming with no rules

Give your teams the freedom to come up with any creative solution they want without limitations or constraints.

2. Focused peer discussions

An open forum for discussing solutions and ideas. Allow attendees to participate in informal ‘fireside talk’ breakout rooms where small groups come together to collaborate on one overarching company concern or issue. For example, what is the biggest challenge that they face in their current role, project, etc?

3. Speed networking and lightning talks

Lightning talks and speed networking sessions are similar to speed dating events, but for a work environment. They usually focus on a single topic or idea instead of a broad and general point.

4. Drop-in discussions

Give your guests freedom of choice with a drop-in breakout session idea. These “fireside talk sessions” have an informal, non-pressure format for conversations that encourage open discussion and networking as well.

PRO TIP: Ask attendees to register for breakout events early and put a limit on the number of seats available. This will ensure that every session has participants ahead of time and prevents overcrowding.

5. Outdoor breakout session activities

No one wants to be glued to their computers or trapped inside all day long no matter how beautiful the space is. And nothing gets people’s creative juices flowing better than a little fresh air so don’t be afraid to take your break or event outside.

6. Ask me anything session ideas

The best thing about AMA talks is that they’re completely free style and open-ended. You can do anything from discussing company news or answering questions posed by attendees with a Q&A session type of format.

7. Teaching and learning event breakout sessions 

An educational breakout event is typically a conference or training seminar that focuses on topics such as management, product development, sales techniques, customer service skills – the list goes on.

8. Fun game based breakout sessions

Not all breakout session ideas are formal or stuffy, sometimes they’re just down right fun! Scavenger hunts, virtual events like bingo, happy hour games and trivia are essential for making your meetings well, less boring.

Looking for a team building experience to remember? Host your next virtual event or breakout session with Woyago and give your team a little break in Paris (you know, without actually sending them there.)

Young women standing and presenting as a guest speak for a conference breakout session
One of the keys to hosting a great breakout session is having an engaging speaker.

How to Plan a Breakout Session

What makes a good breakout session?

The most memorable breakout sessions are the ones that:

  • encourage guests to play and create
  • get to know one another on a deeper level
  • engage in meaningful connections and conversations
  • and foster a sense of community

Facilitators should know how to host and lead a session plus feel comfortable presenting to an audience or small groups as well.

How to host a successful breakout event?

When you’re leading a breakout session, it can be difficult to figure out what to cover. Here are some breakout session ideas to help make planning one even easier:

  1. Breakout sessions should be planned in advance. An organized event schedule is a successful event schedule.
  2. Provide attendees with concrete examples of how to use concepts discussed during breakout sessions. Remember, this could be their first time ever participating in one.
  3. Get feedback from attendees with pre-event surveys. Poll guests well in advance to see what kind of experience they are looking for.
  4. Allow attendees and groups to self-select what topics and sessions interest them. 
  5. Prepare your guests and set expectations. Provide agendas, answer frequently asked questions in advance, etc. The more information you can provide before the event, the better.

How to encourage participation in breakout rooms?

The easiest way to encourage participation is by creating a little buzz! Tease what topics will be covered, what activities might be included – but don’t give away too many details.

You can also create a little urgency by limiting seats or by using incentives like prizes, treats, giveaways or special access for those who sign up or register early.

Overall Tips for Any Type of Breakout Session

If you’re hosting a breakout session for your company or team, here are some tips for creating one that rocks!

  • Start with a theme. You want to make sure that each presentation is equally valuable and compelling.
  • Ensure breakout workshops cater to a variety of learning styles.
  • Set some ground rules when teaching everyone how the break out process works.
  • Always account for buffer time. An extra five minutes here or there can help attendees wrap things up and feel like they have really accomplished something.
  • Engage multiple senses. The more senses involved in a learning activity – the more people tend to remember the overall experience.
  • Get active! Incorporate movement into your event, both virtual or in person. 

Breakout Sessions Tips for Virtual Events

  • Keep breakout rooms to around five or six people per room.
  • Make sure each room has a designated speaker, presenter, and note taker. Ask for volunteers or assign responsibilities before entering the room.
  • Communicate! Send messages, countdown warnings, push notifications, etc. Let teams know how much time is left or even pop in to see how things are going.
  • Select the best format and technology. Look for software that enables you to split the participants into separate rooms, offers live polling and virtual white boarding if necessary.

Breakout Sessions Tips for In-Person Events

Breakout sessions are a great way to get people out of their comfort zones and move around the room, which can help break down barriers and increase creativity.

  • Find unique spaces free from distractions away from the main event. Make sure there’s enough distance from one group to another so teams don’t get distracted. 
  • Don’t overlook seating arrangements. Avoid theatre style seating and opt for more round tables. Collaborative seating fosters dialogue and action.
  • Choose the right host. Find a host that is both engaging and stimulating for your guests. Enthusiasm, passion and good communication are also important skills as well. Choose a facilitator(s) who can guide attendees without controlling them.

With a hectic work schedule and endless to-do lists, it can be hard to find time for creativity or innovation. 

Breakout sessions are a way for organizations to let their collective minds wander and find new ways of doing things. They provide space where people can focus on specific topics, be inspired by each other’s contributions, and collaborate while brainstorming new ideas.

These sessions are also great opportunities to get people from different departments working together on tasks or brainstorming about how to improve their current process.

If you want help with any aspect of hosting a breakout session, get in touch with us so we can partner up in order to make sure your next one goes off without a hitch!