Conference Breakouts – Are you doing it all wrong?

Man building mini golf putt hole with cardboard box

In our many years of experience developing and executing conferences and meetings, the priority (and spending) is usually focused on the the large Plenary Session. The sessions led by executives, launching new products, making big announcements, showcasing big name keynote speakers—in other words, the alleged sexy stuff!

Often overlooked and underfunded are the breakout sessions—a mistake and lost business opportunity. These smaller sessions tend to be content heavy, presenting attendees with financials, to-dos, and very specific business unit plans. They are rarely engaging and interactive and do not usually take the attendees’ learning needs into consideration. While it’s always nice to see your co-workers, we’re often told through feedback that “much of the content could have been shared in a business update once everyone is back at the office. It is not engaging to take the time and money to travel to a conference and be away from family only to get an update, or any information, which could have been an email.”

We are happy to report that this is changing—accelerated by the need to provide team members much needed training that leveled up employees’ power and life management skills during the pandemic. The results support the shift. If done properly, breakout sessions should score as high, if not higher, in post-attendee engagement surveys.

Breakouts can and should be a strategic powerhouse for companies looking to engage with their teams using a custom approach to content, training, and attendee engagement. At Proof Experiences, we are encouraging our clients to leverage breakout sessions as a strategy for specific, in-person training, teambuilding and real-time interaction in a way that cannot happen during regular business hours.

We start with a pre-conference Q&A to identify gaps or opportunities within the organization, ensuring that sessions are tailored to the most pressing issues. We discuss these results and our recommendations with clients before building out a strategy for their breakout sessions. Most often these recommendations are interactive, thought provoking and skills based.

Breakouts work equally well in small or large group formats, and they can headline any number of important business priorities and training gap needs, for example: Health and Wellness in the workplace, Leadership/Power Skills, Communication Assessments, Conflict Resolution or Interactive Team Building activities such as scavenger hunts and mini-golf course building challenge. You can strategically partner people by department, cross-functional teams or by job level to ensure maximum results.

Led by certified trainers and facilitators, often in combination with corporate staff, these breakout sessions allow companies to maximize the impact and ROI of bringing attendees together in person and ensuring they leave with a sense of accomplishment and renewed engagement in their jobs.

And the results speak for themselves. At a recent annual sales meeting for one client, attendees overwhelmingly agreed that the breakout sessions were the most helpful and applicable to their day-to-day jobs and they would be taking valuable work and personal skills away with them.

Are you missing an opportunity to maximize your breakout sessions? Let us show you how to turn them into a results-driven, strategic engagement tool at your next conference or meeting.

Black and white headshot of Christine Ross


Chief Experience Officer

Black and white headshot of Bibianna Poon


Vice President, Conference & Events


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