The primary purpose of an event is typically to bring together a large group of people who share common interests or goals. But that purpose isn’t best served by having that group of people spend the entire duration of the event together. Providing a breakout space—or multiple spaces—is an important and expected aspect of most corporate events.
Who and What Are Breakout Spaces for?
A breakout space is a small room or space designed to encourage and facilitate interaction, especially interaction in pairs and small groups. They are used in all kinds of locations but are most often seen in office designs and at events. Breakout spaces are generally used in one of two ways:
- To provide space for scheduled breakout sessions
- As multipurpose spaces that attendees can use as needed for a variety of purposes
At events, breakout spaces are often used for breakout sessions. In these sessions, attendees break up into multiple groups, or a small group of attendees breaks off of the main group, for a specific purpose. This might be for collaborative work at a conference, for a guided workshop or discussion, or for some other reason.
Breakout sessions are typically part of the event schedule, planned in addition to the main event content. At conferences, for instance, breakout spaces are provided for attendees to break up into groups and discuss or work collaboratively on ideas relating to the conference content.
Breakout spaces don’t always go hand-in-hand with breakout sessions, and not all spaces have to have a defined purpose. They can be used for different purposes at different times and by any event attendee who wants to spend time there.
Adding one or more breakout spaces to an event can provide a wide range of benefits for your attendees. For instance:
- Facilitate small-group sessions, discussions, and collaborations that increase overall event engagement.
- Provide space for networking and casual conversation.
- Create quieter multipurpose spaces away from the main event, where attendees can work, eat, or relax.
Breakout Spaces Add Versatility to Your Event Venue
Breakout spaces have some logistical benefits for events too. One important benefit is that by giving people additional space, you encourage them to move away from main thoroughfares. This helps free up those areas so other people don’t get bottlenecked and blocked from getting where they want to go.
Overall, the key benefit of having a breakout space at an event is to add versatility. It gives your attendees more options and can even encourage them to spend increased time at the event. For instance, by providing food and a place to eat it, fewer attendees will feel the need to head out of the event when they’re hungry.
Creating an Effective Breakout Space
If you’ve booked a large venue, breakout space design is generally pretty easy. Use small rooms or spaces that are adjacent to the main areas of the event. Ideally, they should be a little removed from the main event areas, but not so far away that the distance deters people from using them.
If your venue is smaller or if you don’t have a venue with multiple separate spaces, you can still create breakouts. For instance, if you’re just working with one large room, you might designate one or two corners as breakout spaces. Then use furniture groupings to create conversation spots. Even better, if you have access to screens or partitions, you can use those to create temporary walls.
Consider This When Designing a Breakout Space
For each breakout space you add to an event, you’ll have a few points to consider to ensure the space is useful and functional for attendees:
What types of activities are attendees likely to want to engage in at this event, that might require a breakout space?
Will they want to:
- Work alone?
- Have group discussions?
- Grab a few moments to relax?
Where’s the space located in relation to the rest of the event? Will this influence what people want to do there?
For instance, breakout spaces that are close to food vendors are probably going to be used as places to eat. People looking for a quiet spot to work are more likely to prefer a space that’s further from high-traffic areas.
What kinds of furniture or utilities do you need to provide for each space?
Depending on its purpose and keeping in mind that you want attendees to feel comfortable in it, a breakout space might need:
- A whiteboard and other collaborative tools
- Charging stations
- A/V equipment
- Movable partition walls within the space
- Sound-proof booths
Breakout Spaces for Virtual Events
Going virtual for your next event? Breakout spaces can work here too! And a virtual breakout space is even easier to create because you’re not limited by the size or layout of your venue. It’s convenient for attendees too because it’s the work of a few seconds and a couple of clicks to transfer from the main event hub to a breakout channel or chatroom.
Most virtual event platforms have the ability to create breakout spaces within the event hub.
Breakout Space Is an Important Part of Any Event
Most attendees head to events with the majority of their time already planned. They know what sessions they’re attending, what booths they want to visit, and what speakers they want to see. But not all their time is carefully managed, which means event spaces should have some flexibility built-in. Adding one or more breakout spaces to your event provides much-needed versatility, so your guests can make the most of any free time they happen to have.
At ProGlobalEvents we can take breakout space design to the next level, ensuring your attendees feel comfortable and get the best use of every aspect of your corporate event. Contact us today to learn more.