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Conference Breakout Sessions: Here Are 20 Ideas To Plan Your Perfect Event

Business Meeting ResourcesBusiness ResourcesEvents

April 24, 2023

Conference Breakout Sessions: Here Are 20 Ideas To Plan Your Perfect Event

When planning a successful conference, breakout sessions are a great way to engage attendees and provide them with a more personalized learning experience. But with so many different topics and formats, figuring out where to start can take time. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 20 conference breakout session ideas to help you plan your perfect event.

1 | Speed Networking

This is a fun and fast-paced session where attendees can meet and connect with other attendees. Each person has a set amount of time to chat before moving on to the next person. Think speed dating, but with attendees on a pre-determined topic by the event hosts. Depending on your networking group’s size, you could have them practice elevator pitches in 30 seconds or give them up to five minutes to get to know each other!

2 | Fireside Chat

A fireside chat is a relaxed and conversational session with a keynote speaker. It allows attendees to ask questions and get insights from an expert. This is a less formal chat with more of a casual and intimate feel. The moderator is typically an expert in the field and is expected to be able to answer the questions that come their way with ease. 

3 | Interactive Workshops

Workshops are a great way to provide attendees with hands-on learning experiences. They can learn new skills, techniques, or strategies that they can apply in their work. Plus, they are an excellent way for attendees to get to know a product or technology and one another. 

4 | Roundtable Discussions

Roundtable discussions are an excellent format for attendees to have a more intimate and focused conversation around a particular topic. These discussions can be led by a moderator or an expert in the field. The moderator is there to fill in any gaps and continue to push the conversation forward so that everyone gains valuable insight.

5 | Panel Discussions

A panel discussion is a great way to provide attendees with diverse perspectives on a particular topic. It typically features a group of experts who discuss their experiences and answer questions from attendees. When planning a panel, having three to five experts with different perspectives on any given topic opens up a lively discussion and can get people thinking differently about their experience. 

6 | Problem-Solving Sessions

Designed to tackle specific problems attendees face, these sessions ask attendees to work together in groups to brainstorm solutions and develop actionable plans. We love these breakout sessions as an interactive way to get to know like-minded individuals in your field and even establish partnerships for the future. 

A team having an annual business meeting at The Centre Escondido

7 | Brainstorming Sessions

These sessions encourage attendees to think creatively and develop new ideas. They can be led by a facilitator or done in a more informal setting. Like brainstorming sessions with your internal team, this is where creative magic can happen. You will learn a lot from how others think. 

8 | Keynote Speeches

Keynote speeches are an opportunity to inspire and motivate attendees. They can be delivered by an expert or a notable figure outside the industry. Typically, the keynote speaker is the highlight of the day and speaks about the broader theme of the event. 

9 | Learning Labs

Learning labs are hands-on sessions that allow attendees to learn new skills in a more structured environment. They can be led by experts in the field or vendors. Like workshops, these labs enable attendees to learn a new skill or develop a deeper understanding of their skill in real time. 

10 | Case Study Presentation

Case studies are a great way to provide attendees with real-world examples of successful strategies and tactics. They can be presented by the company or the individual who executed the strategy. Seeing other people’s case studies will give you insight into their processes and may even inspire you to create your own to share. 

11 | Technology Demonstrations

Technology demonstrations are a great way to showcase new products or services. They can be led by vendors or experts in the field, often giving attendees insight into new ways to work effectively. Tech demonstrations can also generate a lot of excitement for things to come. 

Stephen Fishwick 5

12 | Team Building Activities

Team building activities are a great way to encourage collaboration and teamwork among attendees. These activities can range from simple icebreakers to more elaborate challenges. Team-building activities are great for mid-day sessions when people get fatigued. They add a renewed energy to the event, which is perfect for heading into the second half of the day. 

13 | Hands-On Demonstrations

Hands-on demonstrations are a great way to give attendees a fundamental understanding of a particular topic. They can be led by experts in the field or vendors.

14 | Product Launches 

Product launches are an excellent way to generate excitement and buzz around a new product or service. They can be led by vendors or the company itself, and they are a great way to have your product seen and understood by other experts in your field. 

15 | Meet the Expert Sessions

Meet the expert sessions allow attendees to connect with experts in their field. They can be done in a one-on-one or more informal group setting. Think of authors, speakers, or respected professionals in your industry. Who would bring the excitement for a meet and greet? 

16 | Best Practices Sessions

Best practices sessions provide attendees with insights into successful strategies and tactics. They can be led by experts in the field or companies who have implemented successful strategies. These sessions are perfect for HR professionals and legal professionals who need a space to share new legalities and expectations in your industry. 


17 | Open Mic Sessions

Open mic sessions are a great way to encourage attendees to share their experiences and insights. They can be done in a more structured setting with a moderator or in an open forum. This is a time for creativity to shine. If you are in the creative field, try something like an open mic! 

18 | Round-Robin Sessions

Round-robin sessions allow attendees to move from table to table and participate in short discussions on various topics. This format allows attendees to learn from multiple perspectives and engage in lively conversations.

19 | Role-Playing Sessions

Role-playing sessions are a great way to help attendees practice new skills or techniques. They can be led by experts in the field or trainers and allow people to step out of their comfort zone and pretend to be someone else for a little while. 

20 | Virtual Sessions

With the rise of virtual events, virtual breakout sessions have become more popular. These sessions can include webinars, live Q&A sessions, and virtual workshops.

Breakout sessions are a critical component of any successful conference, and there are countless formats and topics to choose from. Whether you’re planning a networking event or a training workshop, there is a breakout session format that can engage your attendees and provide them with a personalized learning experience. Remember, when planning your conference breakout sessions, it’s essential to set clear goals, ensure that the content applies to the audience, and ensure all technical needs are met. With the right format and content, your conference breakout sessions can help make your event successful. If you are looking for a spot to host your next conference, The Centre in North County San Diego’s Escondido has the space and amenities you need. Contact us today