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7 Ways To Run Breakout Rooms That Add Value for Your Attendees

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Audiences are no longer looking for passive experiences. They want to contribute and be a part of the conversation ad one of the ways to make that happen is by adding virtual breakout rooms to your webinars and digital events.

Virtual breakout rooms, like those powered by ON24 Breakouts, allow your attendees to talk directly with your hosts and each other over video. By opening a direct, two-way channel through virtual breakout rooms, you can make it easier for attendees to switch from passive listening to active engagement in your webinar.

You can also encourage participants to share their views on a topic, ask subject matter experts questions or network with peers in a private setting. And all of this can take place without requiring anyone to download software.

But how can you run a fun and engaging virtual breakout room? Here are seven ways you can drive more engagement in your breakout sessions.

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7 ways to run breakout rooms that add value for your attendees

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1. Continue the conversation with interactive breakout sessions

Continue a webinar with an interactive breakout session. After an insightful presentation by a subject matter expert, keep the conversation going with a breakout session that enables participants to ask questions and build deeper connections with presenters and fellow attendees.

2. Prime breakout audiences for conversation

Typically, attendees won’t just jump into a virtual breakout room and, well, breakout into conversation. As a host, you need to prime them for discussion.

To get conversations going, have your host ask a few general questions about the breakout session topic after they enter the virtual room. For example, if your event is about digital engagement, you can ask your attendees to think about:

    • Where they struggle with digital engagement
    • How do they measure digital engagement
    • What they like to achieve with digital engagement

You can even pull questions from your event’s Q&A tool on the backend. The idea is to get your participants to narrow their focus on the topic and inspire them to open up.

3. Turn the camera on 

A virtual breakout room can be overwhelming to attendees — especially if there are a lot of participants in the room with webcams off and audio on mute.

Have your host and presenters in the room with video and audio on. Attendees are much likely to turn on their cameras and participate if they see other faces.

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4. Match attendees to shared interests or goals

When you plan a conference or summit, does everyone get the same experience or do you break topics out by track? In all likelihood, you organize your big virtual events by track so your attendees can get to the content that interests them.

The same idea can and should be applied to virtual breakout rooms.

Organize breakout rooms by topic or intent (i.e., networking) to ensure your audience can find the engagement they want. They’ll be far more willing to turn on their cameras to discuss something that interests them with their peers than waiting for an eventual turn in a single room.

5. Give attendees deliverables and deadlines

If you’re running a virtual workshop, like a planning event, ask your breakout participants to deliver something by the end of the breakout session. The deliverable can be something as simple as an answer to a question, coming up with a series of ideas or as involved as working together to fill out a workbook.

The idea here is to keep your attendees focused on the meeting and subject. Plus, your attendees get to walk away from your event with something in hand. A collective brainstorming session, for example, is a great way to develop notes and action items.

6. Push polls, surveys and resources

Virtual breakout rooms aren’t limited to just talking! Push URLs, survey links and other calls to action into each of your breakout sessions so guests have access to additional content and valuable learning materials.

7. Track breakout room engagement

The only way to know how effective your breakout rooms are is to analyze the data! With ON24 Intelligence, you can track every interaction from your breakout rooms across all your webinars and virtual events.

Collect vital insights on who attended the breakout, how long they stayed, which interactive features and content offers they engaged with — then use this information to guide your follow-up campaigns.

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