Keeping Your Attendees Engaged: 3 Conference Breakout Sessions to Try
By: Shannon Kelly
Event planning in this day and age is no longer as simple as organising educational programming and booking informative speakers – it’s about so much more. Event planning today is all about keeping your attendees engaged and creating a conference experience they won’t forget. More than ever before, conference breakout sessions can quite literally “make or break” an attendee’s conference experience.
Why is this? Well, we live in a world that is filled with online exchanges, remote workforces, and virtual meetings. So if there’s any time to focus on face-to-face interactions at your conference or event, it’s now.
Attendees want to engage, interact, and connect with one another. Here are three conference breakout sessions that are sure to make that happen.
1. Speed Networking:
Speed networking events are fun, fast, and effective, especially when you strategically pair participants together. Instead of simply asking your event-goers to rotate one to the left each round, consider creating a more targeted networking session by pairing people together who are interested in the same things.
Wondering how to make this happen? Allow us to introduce you to the idea of an advanced matching algorithm. When your attendees sign up, they will fill out a brief online survey. In this survey, they are able to rate how interested they are in meeting with people who fall into various categories. These categories are completely customizable and can include things like industry, position, location, career experience, interests within an industry, and more.
Once the registration period ends, the algorithm will create meetings between participants based on the highest quality of connections. That means that each attendee receives a personalised schedule based on their unique interests.
At the speed networking session itself, attendees receive their schedule with a list of meetings for each round. Every schedule includes the contact information, company information, a bit of background information about their interests and experience, and ice-breaker questions unique to each person to help kick off the connections.
This type of strategic speed networking not only improves the quality of connections for conference-goers but it also significantly increases the number of new connections when you compare it to more traditional mix and mingle networking sessions.
It’s a win-win.
Roundtables might be nothing new, but hear us out. They don’t have to feel forced or overly academic. Just like speed networking, traditional roundtable discussions can be greatly improved with the help of the above-mentioned matching technology.
Instead of random seating in this type of session, consider strategically seating your attendees. When attendees are brought together intentionally based on their interests, you greatly increase the chance of meaningful and productive conversations and connections.
And it’s easier than you might think – just decide how you want to group your attendees and let technology take it from there.
This type of group setting is great not just for networking sessions but also for luncheons, dinners, team building, workshops, and more.
3. Conference Bingo:
Break the ice and help your event-goers interact and engage with a game of conference bingo. It’s a fun, stress-free way to help people connect. And it’s easy for you, the event planner, to implement. Simply create a standard 5×5 matrix (which is what is used in most bingo games) and plug in professional and personal statements. These statements should be designed to help participants get to know one another.
Here are some statement ideas:
Has not attended this conference before
Has recently been promoted
Shares the same job title as you
Is from the same state as you
Has recently switched jobs
Has a dog
Is currently watching the same TV show as you
No matter what you end up choosing, try to include mostly statements that are specific to the interests of your industry. The goal of the session is to have attendees ask questions and eventually get BINGO.
To add an extra incentive, you can offer prizes to anyone who completes their card. But be careful with only offering prizes to the winners. You don’t want your attendees to be rushed – you want them to have genuine conversations with those around them.
After the session, let your attendees mix and mingle and build upon the connections they started forming during the game.
All in all, conference breakout sessions should be designed to engage your attendees with a focus on face-to-face interactions. This will help you create a meaningful experience your attendees are sure to remember. Let us know if you decide to give these ideas a try!