Here is our list of the best team breakout session ideas.
Team breakout sessions are fun activities that break the regular meeting schedule and provide an avenue for team members to bond. Examples include lightning talks, speed networking, walking tours, and spelling bees. The purpose of these activities is to brainstorm ideas, increase team engagement, and break from an event’s agenda.
These exercises are similar to conference breakout session ideas, team meeting ideas and are ways to facilitate team bonding. These sessions can also serve as team building activities for conference calls and small group icebreaker activities.
This list includes:
- conference breakout session ideas
- virtual breakout session ideas
- breakout room activities
- team breakout session ideas
Let’s get started!
List of breakout session ideas
Practical, focused, and purposeful team breakout sessions are valuable tools. From photo booths and lightning talks to team trivia, here are our best breakout session activity ideas for teams.
1. Speed networking
Speed networking is an activity where participants interact in quick succession. The speedy rotations enable each team player to engage with as many participants as possible within the set time. Speed networking is among the best team breakout activities if you want attendees to learn more about each other in a short timeframe.
For this activity, start by setting up a room with a desk and two chairs facing each other. The number of sets depends on the number of participants. Team members will move from one seat to another as they ask other partners questions. Participants can share business goals, professional backgrounds, and personal lives.
Be sure to give pairs at least five minutes to interact. If the speed networking time frame is too short, then participants may not be able to dive into conversations.
At the close of the activity, team players mention five fascinating facts they learned about other members. Speed networking will help participants increase the number of business contacts, bond, generate new opportunities, and loosen up ahead of the meeting’s topics.
2. Lightning talks
A lightning talk is a fast-paced presentation where speakers cover a given topic in a very brief time, usually less than five minutes. For this breakout idea, you can brief five to ten presenters to give a talk on a chosen topic for five minutes. Letting attendees present a subject that they think is interesting will provide a break from the primary event programming.
While lighting talks may not be as detailed as traditional talks, you can use them to articulate a topic in an insightful, quick, and clear manner. Lighting talks are among the best attention-grabbing group breakout session ideas.
For longer lectures, check out this guide to virtual lunch and learns.
3. Silent disco
If you want attendees to relax after a long session, then a silent disco is a fantastic idea. For the activity, you will need to purchase wireless headphones for all attendees. Next, create a playlist of danceable music.
If you want to increase brand visibility, then consider offering the headphones as swag. Be sure to get the logo placement right.
Here is a list of high-energy songs that work well for this activity.
4. Meditation sessions
Meditation sessions are among the best team breakout session ideas to get attendees in the right headspace for the next session. If you have a small group, then you can provide yoga mats. Then, have a meditation facilitator lead the team in a 10 to 15-minute meditation session.
If you have a large number of participants, then you can hold the meditation session in the event room. Let attendees sit silently in the room with their eyes closed. You can read out positive affirmations or thought-provoking questions for five minutes and then let the team sit silently for ten minutes.
A meditation session is a rewarding experience that helps team players nourish their mental health and quiet their distractions. When done right, you will increase the team’s focus and learning ability.
Check out more employee wellness ideas.
5. Walking tour
Venue and weather permitting, getting your team outside the venue for a few minutes can be a game-changer in increasing engagement. If you are holding your event at a venue that has an outdoor space, then let participants walk around the property and interact with each other. Team players are also free to sit in the outdoor space alone and relax. However, be sure to limit the use of digital gadgets.
If you have more time to spare, then you can plan a short-guided walk to a nearby town. The team can visit a local park or a landmark nearby. The walks will enable participants to exercise their bodies and minds, bond, and prepare for the next session. Walking tours work best after a tea or lunch break.
Here are more outdoor team activities.
6. Photo booth
A photo booth is a fun, low-cost, interactive team breakout activity. For this exercise, you will set up a booth in an easily accessible area in the venue. Then, give attendees at least ten minutes to take pictures in the booth. Attendees are free to take single shots or goofy pictures with other participants.
If you are looking for more engaging photo booth group breakout session ideas, then provide costumes and props in the photo area. You can hire a professional photographer or let teams take turns in taking pictures. Be sure to set the photo booth in a well-lit area.
7. Paint a portrait
Painting portraits is a team breakout session that encourages creativity. For this idea, hand out a canvas and ask attendees to paint a portrait within ten minutes. You can limit the drawings to specific topics or give attendees the freedom to paint anything they want.
One of the most engaging ideas involves attendees drawing caricatures of each other within eight minutes. For this activity, let attendees pair up. The pairs will face each other and sketch the other party.
If you want the team to experience a hilarious drawing challenge, then try the blind drawing activity. For this challenge, participants will blindfold each other. Then, you will list items such as a rose, trees, or office stationery and ask participants to draw the descriptions. Once done, participants will share the results.
8. Team trivia
Team trivia is one of the best team building breakout session ideas. For a team trivia challenge, let attendees form smaller groups. You will ask participants to submit two surprising facts about themselves. You will read out the facts and let attendees take turns to guess the participant who wrote each tidbit. The team will have fun as they learn more about other participants.
Here are general knowledge trivia questions you can also use for the activity.
9. Treasure hunt
Treasure hunts are games where participants search for hidden objects by following clues. These activities are among the most interactive team building breakout session ideas. If you have a large crowd, then group participants into smaller groups. Next, hide items in the event room and hand out clues.
Here are treasure hunt ideas:
- Find listed items in their handbags or laptop bags
- Find participants wearing the same color outfits
- Find attendees whose names begin with the same letter
- Find a participant who speaks a foreign language and ask them to teach a phrase in that language
- Find a participant who has a hidden talent
You can make team treasure hunts more interesting by having a set of easy-to-find and difficult hunts. If you have an outdoor space, be sure to take advantage and incorporate the area in the hunts. You can have an incentive whereby the team that gets the object first gets to keep it.
Roundtables are team breakout session ideas where participants form smaller groups and discuss a specific topic. For this activity, let the participants form groups of five to ten team players. Then, assign a discussion topic and set a time limit. The groups can share opinions, debate, or have in-depth conversations about a situation or a challenge.
For instance, if you are hosting an event to introduce a new product in the market, then you can assign a topic where participants talk about how they think the product will solve a current problem in society. Roundtables give participants who may struggle to talk to a larger audience the leeway to contribute to a discussion.
11. Virtual ‘Ask me anything’
Virtual events do not allow participants to network like physical events. As such, attendees may feel disconnected from other team members.
You can host an ‘ask me anything’ session where attendees learn about personal life, career journeys, or interests of a well-known industry thought leader, senior company leader, or a celebrity. You can moderate the ask me anything session and have each participant ask one question. You can also have a session where participants ask each other questions.
Here is a list of get to know you questions for inspiration.
12. Challenge paper throw
The challenge paper throw activity can get teams more engaged during the sessions. For this activity, you will provide plain papers where every participant will list problems they have been experiencing.
Participants can talk about their careers, personal life, or obstacles in their workplace. Each participant will toss the papers. Have a session where members grab a slip near them and read out the problem. Then, participants will provide possible solutions to the listed issues. Crowdsourcing problem solving is a great way to ease participants’ worries.
13. Virtual coffee
The feeling of catching up over a virtual cup of coffee can foster team bonding. For this activity, you will schedule a 15-minute coffee break. Then, participants will sip their coffee as they talk and laugh with other team players via the conference platform. You can give attendees a topic to chat about or let them choose any light-hearted topic.
If you have many virtual attendees, then take advantage of Zoom breakout rooms. The fewer attendees you assign each breakout room, the easier the participants will bond.
Here are tips for virtual coffee breaks.
14. Teach me something
If you are looking for a simple team breakout idea, then you must try “teach me something.” For this idea, you will group participants into small teams of less than 10 members. Participants will teach each other a simple skill, coping tool, apps that they must have, or career advice.
Here are some examples:
- A new language
- Public speaking tips
- Tips to scale a business
- An app that everyone should have
- Basic self-defense
- First-aid tips
- Better meditation tips
- Speed reading tips
To make the “teach me something” activity more enjoyable, let participants explore non-work-related lessons such as hidden talents or hobbies.
Jenga is an activity where teams compete to build the highest tower using bricks. For this activity, divide participants into groups of 10 to 15 participants. Provide Jenga blocks and ask participants to build towers. The group that gets their tower highest gets to win. If you want team members to learn more about each other, then write questions on the Jenga blocks. Each time a participant picks a block, they must answer the question.
Jenga team breakout idea fosters innovation and creativity while also increasing focus. The activity also allows teams to have open and genuine conversations and foster friendly competition.
16. Wants and needs exchange board
Team events attract diverse personalities that have different skillsets and experiences. You can plan for a wants and needs exchange board where all attendees list their expertise. Attendees will note the participants with whom they want to collaborate. Be sure to give team members a few minutes to exchange contact information.
Participants are free to meet after the meeting and collaborate on the chosen issue.
17. Goal setting workshop
You can help your team to get ahead of their annual goal setting. For this breakout activity, you will encourage participants to list top professional or personal goals for the next month or year.
Team members will state what success looks like to them and what they think they require to attain the indicated level of success. To encourage cooperation, teams can share their goals anonymously. Other participants will give team members tips to achieve the goals within the stated periods and provide encouragement.
18. Book club discussion
The team breakout idea encourages reading habits. For this activity, announce the book of choice one month before the event. Then, encourage all attendees to read the book. During the event, the facilitator will lead the discussion.
You can make the activity more interesting by having the book author as a surprise special guest. Be considerate of attendees who did not read the book by offering relevant notes or including a book synopsis.
For a shorthand version of the exercise, the group can read and discuss short articles instead of full-length texts.
19. Two truths, one lie
Two truths, one lie is among the best group breakout session ideas to encourage interaction. For this icebreaker, group participants into smaller teams. Players will share two true statements and one lie. Team members will take turns guessing which statements are true and which one is a lie.
Another fun variation of the two truths, one lie involves the moderator reading three statements. The moderator can randomly select a team member to guess the true statements and the lie.
Check out more fun group question games.
20. Murder mystery
Murder mystery games challenge players to figure out the identity of a killer. For this activity, the facilitator will lead participants through a series of challenges and clues related to a historical murder mystery. Participants will work in teams to solve the small puzzles.
Murder mysteries are among the best virtual team breakout session ideas to help your team bond, instill problem-solving skills and boost creativity.
Here are online murder mystery games.
21. Spelling bee
If you are looking for fun team breakout session ideas, then you must try a spelling bee. For this activity, list words that participants will spell. You can start with simple words and move to more challenging words as the competition progresses. Choose a participant and ask them to spell the word within ten seconds. To make the spelling challenge more interesting, let participants spell some words backward or attempt to spell words from a foreign language.
Spelling bees enable team players to show off their linguistic skills and have fun.
22. Birthday line-up
The birthday line-up is an easy team breakout activity that creates a bond among attendees. For the activity, ask participants to line up according to their birth dates and months. Participants should arrange themselves in the order of the earliest to latest birth date and month within five minutes.
You can make birthday line-ups more interesting by asking participants to use body movements and hand signals only to communicate.
23. Virtual escape rooms
If you are looking for virtual team breakout session ideas, then you must try the virtual escape rooms. Escape rooms are team breakout activities where teams use clues to escape from a ‘room’ within a given timeframe.
You can provide a mix of fun challenges that bring out the adrenaline rush to beat the clock. For instance, your team can also use virtual escape rooms to solve puzzles and find clues that will help them solve challenges within 30 minutes. You can choose a virtual escape game where a host will guide teams throughout the activity. To play the puzzle, participants will need to enter a Zoom meeting and follow provided prompts.
Here is a list of virtual escape rooms.
Breakout sessions are a welcome relief to team members amid long meetings. These activities provide teams with the opportunity to break up the event schedule, relax and brainstorm ideas in a less structured way. As a result, team members will return from the breakout session with greater enthusiasm and focus. When choosing a breakout idea for your team, consider the venue, time availability, and participants’ demographics.
FAQ: Team breakout sessions
Here are answers to common questions about team breakout sessions
What are team breakout sessions?
Team breakout session sessions are activities that break the meeting or event’s schedule and provide an avenue where attendees can have fun, brainstorm ideas, bond, and engage with each other.
How do you run a good group breakout session?
You should focus on running a successful event breakout session instead of running any breakout idea.
Here are tips that will help you run a good breakout session:
- Choose the right facilitator- Look out for passion, enthusiasm, and excellent communication in a host
- Be considerate of your team’s demographics. For instance, having a relay race for a senior’s event may not be ideal.
- Design attendees’ seating to complement the breakout format. For instance, if you want to run a breakout session that requires lots of movement, ensure there is plenty of space
- Time the breakout sessions strategically- Scheduling your breakout sessions too later in the day may not be effective
- Do not overdo the breakout sessions- Too many breakout sessions may dilute the event’s theme.
A good group breakout session will captivate the attendees and leave them ready to return to the main event.
How do you make breakout sessions fun?
You can make breakout sessions fun by gamifying the experience. Getting participants into a competitive mood by offering incentives for players who get the most points is a clever way to get every team member engaged.
What are some good ideas for team building breakout sessions?
Some good ideas for team building breakout sessions include treasure hunts, portrait painting, and Jenga.
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