The advantages of giving folks a chance to connect in smaller groups are obvious. At the same time, nothing is worse than an amorphous, awkward breakout that leaves people confused and less likely to participate the next time a breakout is on the schedule. In this blog post, we offer three quick ways to decide if you should have break outs for a training session.
Is the opportunity for folks to get to know each other primary? Perhaps it’s a transfer of institutional knowledge. It might be a sense of full group bonding and common purpose. If the point of the session is either integrating new skills or getting to know a few key colleagues, breakouts are best.
If your organization is flat and values input from all sides, breakouts tend to be a great environment. Alternatively, even if your organization is not using small group breakouts as a way to shift culture, it can be a gentle but powerful tool to prioritize one-to-one or one-to-few communication.
Lectures get a bad rap. People don’t like to be talked at if the communication is boring, long-winded, and obvious. At the same time, everyone can relate to that captivating, charismatic teacher or professor who could make a 90 minute lecture fly by. So if the session is intended to educate your audience about systems, updates, new information, etc. — a well structured lecture that includes surprises and stories might actually be the better approach. On the other hand, if the point is to help people execute better there’s no substitution for practical application. So, embrace the breakout.
Use these three quick guidelines to determine if the breakout is the right model to build a training session that will bring participants coming back for more.