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What is a breakout session? [+ How To Plan Your Own]

Having been to many meetings, I can certainly say that I get overwhelmed sometimes. While enjoying the content being discussed, I may feel tired and want to take a break to clear my mind before returning to acquiring information.

I’m sure I’m not alone in these feelings, but many of us want to absorb all we can while still having the opportunity to temporarily disconnect and let our minds wander. .

What we are looking for is a groundbreaking session where the chairmen understand and respond to the need for a break and special time with them. This post explains what a breakout session is, explains how to plan a successful session, and presents ideas you can incorporate into your next meeting.

These sessions are less structured than general sessions and often allow attendees to participate rather than just sitting in the audience and listening. While these sessions may involve master meeting content, they can also focus on irrelevant topics.

Breakthrough sessions can happen in both face-to-face and virtual meetings. The former typically sends attendees to different areas of a conference venue and the latter makes use of groundbreaking room functions derived from virtual conferencing tools. These sessions are especially important in virtual meetings where there is already a built-in disconnection element because attendees are in their respective locations.

Below, we’ll walk you through some ideas that you can use to incorporate engaging discussion sessions into your upcoming meetings.

Breakthrough session ideas

You can plan a variety of breakout sessions, such as those directly related to meeting content and others that focus on entertainment and involve attendees playing games with together.

Chat in a flash

Flash chat is a great way to break up from meetings. They are short so people can attend more than one person and the facilitator spends a certain amount of time talking briefly about a topic they choose in relation to the master meeting content.

However, the flash chats can also be adjusted to allow moderators to present on any topic they are passionate about, help attendees get to know each other more, and let their minds drift. Go somewhere else before refocusing on the meeting.

Network speed

The speed network breakout sessions allow attendees to meet each other and establish professional connections. You can divide people, set expectations, and instruct participants to spend a certain amount of time talking to one person and switching to another after the time is up.


Games can relax participants and reduce stress, especially when they interact and encourage interaction with others. These sessions differ from the other ideas on this list because they may be less relevant than the other sessions.

In live sessions, you can organize bingo, team up for people to solve puzzles, or even play charades. Virtual games possible.

Goal setting session

Goal setting sessions are great because they can encourage participants to think more deeply about the meeting content in a comfortable space where they can chat with others and express their thoughts. me. You can assign one moderator to each sharing room, and they can initiate a conversation about the general meeting content and encourage participants to contact the content with their wishes.

For example, let’s say your larger meeting is focused on introducing new enterprise-wide workflows. In that case, attendees of these sessions can set goals around what they want to accomplish with the new strategy next year.

Ask me whatever (AMA) session

AMAs are a great groundbreaking idea, especially if you don’t have a chance to answer people’s questions.

Participants can be split into different rooms and groups and ask questions or express their thoughts about what happened during the meeting, and an experienced moderator can be there to answer. surname.

Outdoor activities

Outdoor activities are best for face-to-face meetings, where groups of participants can go out together. They may be less focused on content and involve something like a scavenger hunt, but shared sessions can also be held outdoors to bring participants in. change in scene.

However, using an outdoor session in a virtual meeting can include encouraging participants to sign out for a few minutes, going out and coming back, and telling the group something they saw while in out there, or share a picture of an item that you’ve asked them to look and identify externally.

Open the microphone session

Open microphones are always fun, and they can be great for encouraging participation and giving attendees a moment of fun and getting to know their co-workers. Open mics can revolve around meeting content, such as for service representatives to share customer or irrelevant stories, and attendees to stand up and share potential talent.

Discuss drop-in

Drop-in discussions are a great idea as you can schedule multiple sessions for attendees to choose from. They are also a low-pressure format for engaging in conversation and networking. People can navigate to a room where content is related to their interests and even pop up to multiple sessions if they can’t decide.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of ideas, they can certainly be used to create and design engaging discussion sessions for your next meeting.

Session breakout example

Below, we’ll look at some real-world examples of breakout sessions that can serve as additional inspiration for your planning.

The leadership center of a non-profit organization

The nonprofit leadership center is an organization that supports other non-profit organizations. It hosts an annual leadership conference consisting of several discussion sessions led by industry leaders that attendees can choose from.

A groundbreaking session from their 2020 conference, Brave conversation: Understand and face unconscious prejudice with Margarita Sarmiento, discuss how to create a positive and inclusive work environment for all. Discussion sessions related to the conference’s overarching topic focused on lead bravely.

Building on our momentum (BOOM)

Mount Holyoke College hosts an annual diversity conference called Building on Our Momentum, where community members are encouraged to attend events and learn about diversity and fairness. and immerse in live chats and recorded content.

The BOOM Conference 2021 combine different discussion sessions to help attendees interact with content in smaller groups and unpack from difficult topics they might be exploring.

In one of the sessions, Tuesday afternoon: Zines, encouraging attendees to create and create a magazine while learning about their history and usage in disadvantaged communities.


INBOUND is HubSpot’s annual marketing conference full of opportunities, including groundbreaking sessions. During these sessions, attendees can decompress, participate deeper into content, and connect with other participants.

Meeting: Black at INBOUND, an INBOUND 2020 groundbreaking session, created a safe space for Black attendees to meet other experts, network and discuss topics of interest.

Breakout session pattern

With the benefits they can deliver, it is essential to understand how to plan and lead, a successful breakout session. Let’s go through some tips.

1. Set the specified time frames.

Since breakout sessions are specific times between major sessions, it is important to set the specific timeframe in which they will take place. Record session activity, duration, and set a goal that sticks to that schedule.

2. Set session goals.

Breakout sessions designed specifically so that attendees offload are great, but, whatever the intentions, it’s essential to set goals, so participants know what to expect.

It may be as simple as connecting and talking, but it can also be about setting personal goals. Letting everyone know what will happen helps you ensure that these sessions stay focused and that attendees can get everything done within the desired timeframe.

3. Design the seats to complement the groundbreaking format.

This tip is more relevant to live sessions, but is still necessary. It is important to arrange seats and set up additional meeting spaces and facilitate session intent.

For example, a room filled with a round table is not conducive to a high-speed networking session two people are discussing. Understand what you want participants to accomplish in the decision-making process and design the meeting space accordingly.

4. Use correct equipment.

Using the right equipment is involved in both live and virtual hacking sessions, as you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. For example, let’s say you’re leading a breakout session game. In that case, you want to make sure that you have all the documents needed to run the session smoothly, like enough sections for all participants and printable instructions for in-game reference.

Having the right equipment is also important because these sessions are meant to relieve everyone of the mood, so you don’t want people waiting or stressing about what’s to come, especially during virtual events. .

Overall, groundbreaking sessions are valuable aspects of meetings, both virtual and live. They give attendees the opportunity to connect with other participants, think deeply about the content of the meeting, and generally have fun and engaging conversations.

Take advantage of the tips on this list when planning your next meeting, and you’ll likely get feedback from attendees that sessions are engaging, enjoyable, and inspiring. Attend your next event.

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