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Virtual meeting tips: 6 ideas for effective breakout sessions

John Lovell

Just as they do in physical conference setting, virtual breakout sessions can encourage valuable feedback and foster a deeper level of engagement among conference participants. Many conferencing platforms provide the ability to conduct breakout sessions to address topics of interest in smaller groups.

But how can meeting organizers get the most out of these technologies to create an optimal user experience? Here are 6 quick tips.

Virtual meeting tips: 6 ideas for effective breakout sessions

  1. Choose wisely – Considering your topic and desired outcomes, how will you distribute conference participants across breakout sessions? Allowing your participants to choose a session may promote engaged participants and engaging sessions. Assigning participants to specific sessions can help to ensure that diverse voices and perspectives are heard on a given topic. Randomized assignment is expedient and, with a bit of cultivation, may even create new and welcome group dynamics.
  2. Practice makes perfect – Not every conferencing platform works the same way. Not every meeting runs the same way. Scheduling a dry run to ensure meeting presenters and breakout facilitators know what to expect, when, and how to ‘make it work’ can help to ensure your meeting meets your objectives.
  3. Everything moderation – Virtual breakout sessions run more smoothly with a moderator to watch the clock, keep the discussion on track, make sure objectives are being met, and ensure all participants have the opportunity to participate.
  4. Size matters – In virtual sessions especially, the starts and stops of people inadvertently talking over one another are inevitable. But keeping breakout sessions small can help to limit over- and cross-talk and prevent delays and disruptions. Smaller sessions can also foster greater engagement between participants and improved outcomes.
  5. Get engaged – Ice-breakers may be even more essential in virtual sessions than physical, and technology providers know this. Equip your moderators with ideas and tools – polls, quizzes, gaming, role playing – to get people engaged. And at the risk of stating the obvious, moderators should encourage all participants to turn cameras on for richer, face-to-face interaction.
  6. Sharing is caring – What happens in a breakout session shouldn’t stay in that breakout session. Whether it happens when groups rejoin the plenary or as a follow-up to the meeting, organizers should share key breakout takeaways. Participants want to feel that their voices and opinions are being heard, and organizers can benefit from these insights.

Intellor helps meeting organizers plan and practice these virtual meeting tips every day. Reach out today to find out how we can help you create an impressive experience for your audience.