Truly Engaged: A Rich Learning Experience with Breakout Groups

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Virtual Breakout Groups

Trusted by over 15,000 thought leaders, MaestroConference is the leading technology for highly interactive virtual events. Since 2009, our suite of powerful engagement features has helped brands, organizations and entrepreneurs share their unique value with more people from anywhere in the world by delivering on the promise of a live event, virtually.

A standout feature of the MaestroConference platform is the Breakout Group. This powerful and robust feature gives event organizers the ability to create a virtual workshop environment that includes the intimacy of small group conversations.

Breaking up the larger group into smaller groups (i.e. a group of 15 people arranged into three groups of five) allows for more personal, focused discussion, resulting in increased engagement for the audience. Participants have described the breakout experience as “magic” and “amazing to be able to connect 400 people and then break them down to small groups.”

The Many Options for Creating Breakout Groups

We were the first webinar system to introduce Breakout Groups and continue to have the most breakout options of any system on the market. While it is always possible to randomly divide your audience, MaestroConference is unparalleled in its ability to divide your group in a bunch of unique ways (over 160 different ways, in fact!). Breakout options include:    

  1. Random Breakout Group: This is the simplest option for creating breakouts in which you let MaestroConference divide the groups randomly into smaller groups.  Three easy clicks and you are done!
  2. Preselected Breakout Group: Presenters can categorize each participant based on any known criteria, such as by department, geography or skill level.  Presenters can then breakout callers by state so that callers from the same state could talk to one another in these smaller groups, or mix callers from different states for idea sharing across state lines, for example.  
  3. Self-Selected Breakout Group: Presenters can give participants a question or series of choices to select from. Then using the participants’ answers, the presenter can group similar choices together or mix them. This boosts engagement by creating a feeling that the participants are choosing criteria specific to them.  
  4. Host-Defined Breakout Group: The host creates breakout “rooms” that participants can go into and/or move between.  For example, the host can make different rooms where different topics are discussed, such as a room for science, a room for art, and a room for politics. Participants can then choose to join the room that they are most interested in.  
  5. Participant Choice Breakout Group: Participants create their own breakout rooms based on whatever topics s/he wants to discuss.  Those participants who did not create their own breakout room would then move between the topics they want to discuss.  This type of event is sometimes called and/or associated with an “Open Space” or “unconference” event.        
  6. Private Breakout Group: Event organizers can select participants who need to have individual issues addressed in private for one reason or another. Whether it is dealing with a trigger topic, disclosing a personal issue or taking a payment, a private breakout group allows presenters to deal with these individual issues that may not concern the larger group quickly, easily and without disrupting the event. For example, if you’re hosting a teleconference and you’re selling something, you can offer to sell them the item during the event in a separate, private breakout group without stopping the whole teleconference.
  7. Pick & Choose Breakout Group: Presenters can pick as many members from as many groups as they want and assign them to any breakout group. If, for instance, you know that three people work well together and these two people are best friends, make breakout groups for each. You can choose whomever you want to be in any breakout groups that you want.  

Using the characteristics of your audience, you can make almost any breakout group imaginable and give participants a truly guided, interactive experience tailored to their unique needs.

Going Beyond the Initial Breakout Group

Now that you’ve selected how you want to pick people in the Breakout Groups, you can then layer on additional options to make even more effective use of the Breakout Group portion of your event.

  • Continuous Breakout Groups: If an events has two or more breakout sessions (a great idea to boost engagement, by the way), presenters can keep participants in the same groups for each session. For example, Tom, Jane and Kelly will be in the same group for all three of the breakout sessions on Day 1 of the event. This creates continuity for the group so they do not lose rapport and can continue working on assigned tasks.
  • Different Breakout Groups: The opposite of continuous breakout groups.  Tom, Jane and Kelly will not be in the same breakout session ever again.  This can be helpful to get fresh and different perspectives for each individual.
  • Group Led Breakout Groups: Have assistants become leaders of the breakout groups to reinforce learning that occurs in the main group. The assistant can ensure more students get specific attention to their concerns and questions and focus the conversation on the event material.  
  • Public or Incognito: Presenters and assistants also have the ability to move between breakout groups publicly or incognito. Publicly, presenters can check in on groups and give further direction.  Alternatively, incognito presenters can hear what participants are saying about a topic without biasing them.  


Note: there are two views used with MaestroConference’s Breakouts.  

  1. People View with Breakouts shows participants’ pictures around a table.  A green line outlines participants who are speaking.  
  2. Text Editor Breakout View allows the breakout group to collaborate on a text document, take notes, answer questions or a variety of other tasks.  

Using the characteristics of your audience, you can make almost any breakout group imaginable and give participants a truly guided, interactive experience tailored to their unique needs.

Ready to start adding Breakouts to your MaestroConference events?

This playlist will walk you through everything you need to know to create breakouts. From simple random breakouts to much more advanced sorted breakouts based on criteria, this series of short videos will make you an expert on breakouts so that you can help your participants have meaningful interactions.