At HUONE we have observed a clear trend in the rising popularity of meetings with breakout sessions. Breakout sessions engage and activate your audience and they often generate new ideas and thinking out of the box!
Think of the following scenarios:
Your organization is moving operations from one online platform to another, and you are responsible in organising the training around the new tool.
You have an interesting keynote speaker visiting, and you would like to maximise the input of the audience. You’re wondering, how to get them thinking and discussing the topic more in depth?
Whether it’s a regular meeting, training on a new topic, brainstorming session or a visit from a keynote speaker, breakout sessions are a useful tool to connect with your audience.
What Is a Breakout Session?
As the name “breakout” suggests, a breakout session is relatively short and literally provides a break from the rest of your meeting. In traditional meetings, you will often work through the suggested agenda, and each agenda point perhaps has its own presenter. However, this leaves the audience often passive, and sometimes even bored.
Breakout session turns the traditional meeting to a more engaging, solution-oriented function. It’s also easier to learn everyone’s point of view on the topic when using breakout sessions. Most of the time the meeting audience will be divided into smaller groups. Each will discuss or work with a given topic, that relates to the bigger picture of your meeting. You can think of a breakout session almost as a mini workshop!
How to Structure a Breakout Session?
You can divide the meeting audience into smaller groups randomly, or with more thought. For instance, you could group people based on their function: eg. finance / operations / HR, etc. This way, each group can deep dive further to the topic in their own field.
If you have several breakout sessions planned, each session can develop the overall topic a little bit further. The first session can be beginner level. The next one can be a medium level. The last session can be more advanced in terms of complexity and content. After a given time period, all the smaller groups come back together and the meeting will continue with everyone.
For example, you might have a meeting to decide the projects for the upcoming year. Here a breakout session could be used for each group to evaluate various priorities and projects. If you plan to have several breakout sessions, the first one could focus on listing the possible projects of the year. In the next session, you could discuss the priorities for the upcoming year. In the last session, you could grade all the suggested projects by their relation to your priorities.
Once all the groups are back together, each group can present their findings. You can all align on your next priorities and projects together in the bigger group. Voilà, you have found your top projects of the year in a breakout session!
What Can You Achieve with Breakout Sessions?
Why include a breakout session in your meeting, then? Breakout session breaks the meeting in more digestible blocks. They also tend to keep your audience more energised, committed and engaged. When discussing the overall topic in smaller groups, participants have a higher chance of expressing themselves and their ideas. Colleagues that might otherwise be quiet often relax when in a smaller group. Participants are likely to ask questions that might not otherwise be asked. You can clear the confusion at the moment and avoid painful email chains.
A breakout session turns a passive meeting into a more active one. While doing so, it also creates more interaction between participants, resulting in better engagement. There is more time to develop ideas and to reflect on what you previously heard. Breakout sessions are a catalyst to push your audience to collaborate and to develop their learnings. Meanwhile, the attendees will feel that they get more value from the meeting. It’s more fun when not just sitting around listening, but rather discussing and reasoning together!
When organising a breakout session, the objective of the session should be crystal clear to your audience. If the objectives are unclear, you won’t receive the results or input you’re seeking. When executed well, breakout sessions bring engagement and energy to your meetings!
Who Can Benefit from Breakout Sessions?
The beauty of breakout sessions is that they are useful to everyone! Regardless of the department, most of the time a more interactive work session in smaller groups provides great results. For instance, think about IT, HR, or Marketing departments. There are often cases where you need to brainstorm new ideas or developments. Often there is a need to prioritise ongoing projects, or to make tough decisions. When you break your audience into smaller groups, everyone feels their voice has been heard. It’s easier to discuss the objective, and your audience feels that they have been a part of the bigger picture.
How about trainings? Designing trainings can be tedious. You want the training to be as clear as possible, yet inspiring and hopefully interesting to the attendees. Workshops with breakout sessions are a great tool to first explain the theory and the concept to the whole group. Afterwards, in breakout sessions, each group can more concretely dig into the practicalities of what they just learnt. This way, you don’t only provide the theory to your audience. Through smaller breakout sessions, you also give them a chance to further understand, reflect and digest the training materials.
HUONE Has Ideal Breakout Rooms for Your Meetings
At HUONE we have noticed an increasing trend in including breakout sessions in functions, and we welcome this warmly! The meeting rooms are designed to be flexible and to accommodate interactive meetings. Today, meeting attendees value a tailored meeting experience. Who wants to walk into a dull meeting room and listen to a long presentation? You’re right, no one! The audience wants to be engaged. They want to be a part of the conversation flow and an integral part of the meeting outcome. Breakout sessions serve this purpose, and at HUONE we have an excellent selection of possible breakout rooms.
As every HUONE has breakout rooms of different sizes with various, mobile layouts, meetings of all sizes are possible. The thematic breakout rooms spur creativity, and the larger rooms are ideal for the audience to be together. When you want your attendees to flow from one breakout room to another based on the activity, a venue with truly inspiring spaces is your choice of meeting location. And if you like to take it to the next level, some of our guests transform breakout rooms into escape rooms. Anything is possible at HUONE!