On a multi-day event, attendees will always have the general session on their radar. It’s the main event, and without a doubt that block of time is something nobody wants to miss.
A lot of times breakout content and setup often feel as if their secondary in the mind of your attendees. People walk in and out of the room, disappointed by either the lack of experiential or attention to detail. Or, sometimes because they’ve got nothing better to do but wait. That’s not always the case anymore. More and more we’re seeing event and meeting planners focus on the breakout of the future. The idea is that elevation isn’t only reserved for the main event. You can elevate your breakout. Not only does this bring a fuller experience to your attendees, but you make your overall event richer without feeling like you’re breaking the bank.
We’ve seen a slew of events take off with the notion that your breakouts no longer have to be boring. It’s possible to achieve the same type of pizazz on a smaller scale enough to leave your attendees wanting more. It’s all about the engagement of the senses. And while that’s a broad statement, there are a few things we’ve seen trending over the years that help to elevate breakouts to a new level.
Your Backdrop (People Do Pay Attention)
There are very practical uses for pipe and drape as the backdrop to a presenter. But often times, material content that’s important to your show warrants the use of something special. How many times have we seen some incredible content be ignored over distractions. There are many things people focus on when watching presentations. If they’re not looking at your slides, they are looking at the presenter and the immediate surroundings. It’s important to note that attendees pay attention to things like the presenter’s clothing, surroundings, additional noises and things going on and off in the wings and to sides of the room. In order to maintain that experience and deliver the message, it’s important to upscale the presenters immediate surroundings.
Event and meeting planners are utilizing the notion that properly placed stage and scenic design elements with lighting can add drama and attention to any given venue room. Because of breakout rooms’ smaller scale, this becomes easier to achieve with smaller budgets. Not only does that add to the experience of the user, it extends the experience beyond the general session. And that says a lot to the mind of your attendees. Not only will you generate more attendance in these elevated breakout rooms, you’ll also have a place to deliver deeper messaging you couldn’t quite fit during your mainstage agenda.
With the trending technology of short throw lenses, more and more we’re seeing rear projection that’s viable in smaller rooms. That’s more incorporated tech we’re seeing embedded into breakout scenic. You’ll see things incorporated into your presenters’ backdrops from large content areas, to screens that align with your presenters’ slides. This is a lot more impressive than your typical breakout session.
We’ve been watching the evolution of attendee engagement over the years. And we’ve witnessed the classroom style dissemination of information. Again, sometimes there are practical uses for this seating pattern that are necessary. But often times presenters want engagement. They want a two way street. They hope users come and raise their hands, ask questions and approach the mic. Make it easier for them.
We’ve seen all sorts of attendees with access to freestanding exhibits, hi-fi or even lo-fi that allow the user the to get up, experience the moment and truly engage with the breakout. To presenters, that’s a very valuable tool. Not only does it keep attendees from ignoring the material being presented, it keeps them engaged throughout the session.
We’ve seen everything from the use of social media through marketing promotions, to interactive tables that allow users to engage with content. Don’t think users won’t want to see some incredible new message delivered to them through a novel or unique way. Attendees really enjoy absorbing the message being delivered in a variety of ways. People have different ways of comprehending information. Some attain core messaging through an auditory fashion. Some are visual. Others appreciate tactile feedback or a hands-on approach. Utilize more than just the typical and add additional layers to your breakout.
Leveraging the Lo-Fi Tech
We’ve hinted at the future of technology regarding breakouts. We’ve got a lot in store for you. We’ve been working on some serious R&D to really help meeting planners push their breakouts to the next level without breaking the bank. A lot of times there’s the notion that technology has to be expensive in order for it to have attendee appeal. That’s not always the case, and using lo-fi technology creatively can really add some umph to otherwise mundane areas of your breakout.
It’s always about the little things that can engage your attendees and add a little smile to people’s faces. Use what you’ve got in addition to other technology items that are flashier. Sure, there are holographic effects, moving set pieces and wearable tech.
But what about the literal bells and whistles that keep people entertained and add to their experience. We’ve been doing a lot of research, and attendees appreciate little sounds and auditory candy that can keep people engaged. We find ways of leveraging lo-fi technology in creative and engaging ways that add to your presentation. Everything down to the sounds of ticket registrations, agenda bells and entrance sounds all help add to your overall experience.
A lot of attendees carry around with them tablets and smartphones. Utilize this and push some of that content on those tablets and smartphones. A lot of times, you’ll see people on their devices. Why not bring the material you need to deliver directly to where their focus will be anyways.
Bring in the High-Tech
Flashy shiny things aren’t only for the main stage anymore. Why not bring some of that hi-tech into your breakout rooms. Pulling in attendees into your breakout rooms not only allow your users to target exactly what they want to see, it gives them an upclose and personal look at some of the important messages you have for your event.
Projection and staging technologies have advanced to be executed in a much smaller footprint than we’ve ever seen before. From short throw lenses and projection mapping, to our new holographic materials, breakouts are more and more appearing like the general sessions we used to see. By investing in your breakout rooms with technology that traditionally was used for mainstage events, you have more than just one room attendees want to visit. The more you get your attendees to walk around, the more engagement and experience you’ll bring for your users. That in itself is a value add. We encourage meeting planners to look at the breakout in this light. Get foot traffic moving beyond where you’d normally expect.
Breakouts don’t have to be filler anymore. We’re seeing some of the best content be delivered in these rooms and attendees are now keeping this in mind. Leverage what budget you’ve got and spend your money wisely. Add impact where it belongs and give your attendees more bang for the buck by investing in experience outside of the mainstage. You’ll find it not only helps with message retention, but your users will walk away with more engagement and less idle time.
If you’d like to learn more, or see what we can do for your event, contact us here.