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MCI Think: Building the Better Breakout Session

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breakout session

For the longest time, the ” breakout session  felt like the forgotten stepchild of event marketing.

Throw in a stage and a projector, invite a category expert and hope for the best. Because all the killer keynotes were on the plenary stage, a decent breakout was considered a bonus.

Times are changing.

Content is more important than ever. Micro-learning and training are on the rise, and attendees are coming to events for the opportunity for a customised experience.

All that means that the humble “ breakout ” is quickly becoming the star of the show. We’re seeing many key trends in the space – trends worth considering in your next event, experience or conference:

Invest in the environment

Don’t simply stuff the room with rounds, a podium and a small riser. Think about the experience you want your attendees to have, and use that to add lounge seating, whiteboard walls or additional lighting.

Think of it as one component in a larger learning strategy

Training and learning are best absorbed through consistent, short-form content. Make the breakout part of a larger approach to training with pre-event microelements such as brain-writing questions, and persistent content that arrives for weeks after the event.

Make it customised and hyper-relevant

Breakouts that solve real problems (in real time) create the greatest value. Construct sessions that address specific scenarios based on interviews you do with audiences. Create and test real tools that members of the audience can use when they return to their daily routine. Solve an actual problem facing a real team.

Treat sessions as coaching opportunities, where you can personalise key content to make it actionable.

Ditch the “breakout” altogether

Large-scale conferences are creating zones of content that feel like a buffet of experiences. These can include small stage 10-minute lightning talks, experiential labs and innovative networking zones – all rolled into one. Look at what programs like TechCrunch Disrupt, C2 Montreal and The Gathering have been exploring for inspiration.

MCI Toronto’s Business Development Manager, Gillian Kilpatrick authored this article, part 1 of a 2 part series under MCI Think. For more information about the breakout session,  contact her at gillian.kilpatrick@mci-group.com.

See how MCI can help you engage and activate your audiences here.

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