The General Session is the main event. It’s the one place where all of your audience will be together. But breakout rooms are just as important for attendees.
Breakouts are a more personal experience and therefore need to be treated with great care. Inadequately planning for your breakout rooms can ruin the overall experience for those attending.
Pre-event Planning for Successful Breakout Rooms
When planning an event and discussing what you need in your breakout rooms, visualize yourself sitting in the audience as an attendee. If there are only open seats in the back of the room and the presenter shares vital information, can you hear what they are saying? Not every presenter has a booming voice that carries far, and nervousness during their presentation can equate to a shy tone with mumbled words. Also, when the room is full of people, their bodies will absorb a lot of that noise before it reaches the outskirts of the room. If the answer is not clear, the solution is simple. Add a microphone with loudspeakers to enhance the presenter’s voice.
The next important step for a flawless breakout experience is screens. Can everyone in the room read what the presenter is showcasing? Screen size matters, and luckily there is an easy way to calculate exactly what size screen you need based on the room size. Once that accurate size is reached, any attendee will be able to interact with the visual aspects of the presentation.
Site visits are another great tool that every event planner should use. This means dedicating time well before your event to you can see the space in person. It will allow you and your team to be fully confident in the breakout rooms and allow for accurate planning.
Overall, reserve time to strategize how these breakout rooms will be used. Plan ahead by finding out the dimensions of the rooms, and always bring extra equipment if you aren’t positive about room size. Make sure everyone attending, no matter where they sit, can hear and see the presenter and the presentation screens.
Place a Production Expert in The Room With Your Presenter(s)
Having breakout rooms at your conference adds stress by making you and your team feel like they have to be in multiple places at once. “Is breakout one okay? Breakout three has a problem! Oh, wait, breakout fours mic is not working.” If problems arise, it may feel like trying to extinguish a brush fire on a windy day, constantly bouncing from problem to problem.
The solution is to place 1 expert in every room. One production tech to monitor audio, help with slides, aid the presenter with any technical issues, and take care of the room as a whole. This piece of mind is worth 100x more than the cost. In addition, this allows you and your team to put 100% of your focus on nailing the next general session.
How to Prep a Breakout Room for a VIP Presenter
Any person of VIP status is a valuable asset to your event, so putting extra energy into giving them the tools they need is paramount. If they are speaking in a breakout session, this room needs to accommodate more attendees than the typical presenter, plan on 2x to be safe.
This larger room will need larger screens, more powerful loudspeakers, and multiple microphone options. Most importantly, this room will need one to two production technicians to aid the VIP with any technical needs. Preferences in technical choice can be taken care of without your team needing to step in and try to figure it out.
Staging will be necessary for larger breakout rooms with many attendees. Think of a movie theater. Now imagine if the seating and screen were all at the same height. Not only would that be frustrating for you, the attendee, but also for the presenters. Being able to see the audience is just as important to them. For VIPs and large breakout rooms in general, you are going to want to construct a small stage. Also, plan to elevate loudspeakers, screens, recording cameras and lighting (if you have it) to match the height difference created by the stage (typically two to three feet higher than ground level).
Going the extra mile to provide an important presenter with the tools they need will go far beyond the one breakout session. This VIP is more likely to return to your future events to speak again and tell their high-level friends about your event and their great experience.
Why Breakouts Matter
Attendees love their breakout rooms as there is more personal interaction in these smaller groups. Breakout rooms are more intimate, and presenters tend to share a lot more information with a smaller group. When planning your event, just remember that breakout rooms (though they may be small) need more attention. They also need to be taken more seriously so your attendees can get the most out of their experience at your event.
We hope you are now a believer in the importance of strategically planning ahead for your breakout rooms. Prevent things from going wrong and set your breakout rooms up for success using the tips we’ve provided. If you need help getting the most from your breakout rooms, reach out. We’d be happy to help.