5 Ways to Debrief Conference Breakouts Groups (Without Boring Participants)

I guess it's the hands-on learner in me, but I find traditional conference breakout sessions boring. You know the drill. One person from each table stands and presents what their group discovered. By the time it gets to the third report, it's hard to stay awake. For your next conferences and business meetings, here are some alternatives:

  1. Debriefing Groups: (For Small to Medium Audiences)
    • Assign a number to every breakout table.
    • The number of group members should match the number of breakout tables.
      (Example: If there are 6 breakout groups, assign 6 members to each breakout group)
    • When it's time to debrief, ask the members of each breakout group to number off.
    • On queue, ask all the "ones" to move to Table 1, the "twos" to move to Table 2, etc.
    • All participants will make a presentations at their new tables summarizing what their group discovered.
  2. Walk Around Debrief:
    • Ask groups to work on a flip charts and record the results of their discussions.
    • In participant handouts, provide a page to capture information.
    • Play some quiet music and give participants a chance to move around the room and record the posted information.
      Analytical learners will not respond well to this approach and they will still want a traditional debrief. Provide an opportunity for questions and clarification. Invite learners for whom the walk around debrief was sufficient to take a break.
  3. Grand Tour: (For Small to Medium Audiences)
    This is similar to a traditional debrief but, instead of remaining in their seats, participants move from group to group to listen to the presentations. To increase participation, a couple of group members can take turns presenting the information.
  4. Mini-Presentations:
    Provide breakout groups with structured templates to create 2 minute PowerPoint presentations. After a short break, 2 members of each group share the responsibility for making very concise timed presentations.
  5. Debriefing Panel:
    Representatives of each breakout group participate in a panel to share and discuss their results and respond to questions for the audience.

What other approaches have you used to transform debriefing sessions from boring to beneficial?


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