How to Build & Utilize an Effective Event Breakout Space

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:

  1. To provide space for scheduled breakout sessions
  2. As multipurpose spaces that attendees can use as needed for a variety of purposes

Breakout Sessions

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.

Multipurpose Spaces

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.

breakout space

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:

  • Talk?
  • Work alone?
  • Collaborate?
  • Have group discussions?
  • Eat?
  • 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:

  • Seating
  • Tables
  • 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.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler

President

Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jack Connolly

Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.

 

Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.

 

In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.

Paul Miller

Chief Marketing Officer

Having served in a number of executive roles for companies in Silicon Valley for over 25 years, Paul has a client-side perspective of the corporate events industry. He has a broad set of experiences working for startups as well as global firms such as Applied Materials. At ProGlobalEvents, Paul helps the company to reach clients through traditional and digital marketing programs. With an extensive background in the High Tech sector, he’s also involved with technology strategy both internally and for clients. Paul is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, the Stanford Engineering Design School and Claremont McKenna College. In his spare time he is a also a principal member of the non-profit Gratitude Network which mentors award winning social entrepreneurs.