6 Simple Tips For Successful Breakout Sessions

No one wants to be a nameless, faceless attendee listening to a talking head all day. That’s why savvy meeting planners use breakout sessions to transform a large audience of passive attendees into smaller, more nimble groups of active participants that can drill down on a particular topic, brainstorm viable ideas and solve real problems.

To help your organization get the most out of breakout sessions at your next group meeting, our ProMeetings Team compiled this list of six simple tips:


1. Give them a Goal

Anyone who says breakout sessions are a waste of time was never given a well-defined objective before sitting down with their small group. Decide what you want each session to achieve in advance and give specific direction before putting it into action.

Want to take it a step further? Poll your attendees before your meeting to learn what they want to accomplish. If one or more responses aligns with what your organization needs to achieve, set them as goals for your breakout sessions. Respondents will feel valued and become far more invested in the process.


2. Make it Engaging

Remembering that one of the main reasons for a breakout session is to encourage interaction, you’ll want to ensure that the format of each session will excite and engage your participants. Replace boring slide shows with compelling video or augmented reality. Gamify dry educational modules. Or offer a change of scenery by simply taking it outside.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s indoor meeting venues, including classic golf clubhouses, are just steps from inspiring grounds available for your group’s use. You can also boost the experiential factor and hold your entire meeting outside at Mingo Point, a one-of-a-kind event space nestled on the banks of the Kiawah River.


3. Choose a Venue that Fits

Your group has so much to accomplish. You want your small groups to be able to work efficiently and hear each other without difficulty, but don’t want to waste precious time marching them off to far flung meeting rooms. That’s why The Sanctuary Hotel and East Beach Conference Center offer dedicated and conveniently located breakout rooms in close proximity to large group spaces.

Opening in early 2020, our all-new West Beach Conference Center was also designed with modern meetings in mind. Eleven separate breakout rooms are arranged around a massive 10,000-square-foot ballroom (divisible into as many as six individual spaces for any size gathering). This layout will allow your small groups to move quickly and seamlessly between the main meeting space and their designated breakout room.

Wherever you decide to meet, the ProMeetings Team will help you arrange these breakout rooms to promote group discussion, collaboration and effectiveness. You don’t want your attendees going from one theater-style set-up to another—we recommend round tables or chairs placed in circles facing inward.


4. Establish Clear Roles

Left on their own, small groups run the risk of veering off course, talking in circles and not coming away with tangible results. To keep breakout sessions on track, instruct each group to appoint a facilitator. Be clear that this facilitator is only meant to gently guide the group’s efforts toward the goal set out for the session, without dictating the “right” way.

Another critical role that needs to be filled in each group is that of recorder. Their job is to document all discussion, not edit out ideas they deem inadequate. Taking comprehensive notes ensures that all insights, ideas and solutions that come out of the session are not lost in the process.


5. Gather the Right Tools

Depending on the format you plan for your breakout sessions, you’ll require different tools. Traditional flip charts and notepads work well for fast-paced brainstorming (so those recorders of yours can write everything down).

Of course, there are several new technologies that automate processes with apps for live polls, video streams, quizzes, surveys and screen shares. There are even apps that transform your attendees’ smartphones into microphones, which comes in handy when breakout groups share their results with your all attendees.


6. Determine What Worked

With the intention of optimizing your team’s time together during your next meeting, it’s important to gather immediate feedback on these breakout sessions. A brief survey that has participants ranking each session’s helpfulness on a scale of 1 to 10, along with space to add narrative comments and feedback, is an effective way to analyze what worked—and what may need improvement.


Now that you have our tips for how to plan and execute successful breakout sessions, we have another important tip for you. In celebration of The Sanctuary’s 15th Anniversary, we’re offering groups special rates and a package of value-added offers for meetings held anywhere at the resort in 2019.

Contact Marty Couch at 800.576.1585 or to learn more about how the ProMeetings team can make your next group gathering a tremendous success—now at a remarkable value.