Breakout Sessions 101 for Planners

We have all been to a meeting and found that some of the breakout sessions were not well attended and others were overcrowded.  Fortunately, there are some things as a planner that you can do to help avoid this.

First off, make sure you figure out in advance the number of seats you will need in each breakout.  It can be helpful to ask attendees to pre-register for concurrent sessions, or use meeting history and discussions with organizers to determine what topics are hot.  Lets say you have 200 attendees with 4 breakout sessions, then each session should seat 50 people.  If one breakout topic is perceived to be more popular than the others, you should try to adjust accordingly.  Speakers may only want 25 people for their sessions because of the topic or need for greater discussion.  You can post a monitor at each breakout session door to close the session when it is full.

You can ask the banquet staff to stand by and make necessary adjustments should one room have an overflow problem.  They will be much happier to be forwarned than to be unprepared for the unexpected and have to make a dash with chairs and more at the last minute.

Set for what you need, but do not overset the rooms or they will give the appearance that your audience is not as large as expected.  You can always have more chairs stacked up in the back of the room or brought in quickly if needed.  Don’t automatically assume that everyone registered for the meeting will attend every session.  Follow these steps and it will help make planning your next breakout session a little bit easier.

Joshua Gair – Impact Entertainment Services


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