The OpenWater Blog


Virtual Conference Platforms with Breakout Rooms

Published December 9, 2020 in Leadership

Breakout rooms are a necessary component for any virtual event. Virtual conference platforms with breakout rooms enhance attendees’ conference experience by keeping them engaged.

It can be a virtual conference platform, a meeting software, or a webinar — it doesn’t matter. Breakout sessions are an effective way to engage attendees and garner positive feedback.

It’s important to know how virtual platform providers can help execute breakout rooms. Try to keep this in mind when shopping around for a virtual platform with breakout rooms.


What is a virtual breakout room?

Virtual conferences with breakout rooms reflect in-person events with breakout rooms.

A typical in-person conference dedicates one large space for each session. Separate spaces are then designated to small breakout sessions. The same is true for virtual conferences. Virtual event breakouts are small virtual spaces separated from large primary spaces.

Let’s use Zoom as a common example. When you enter a Zoom meeting, the virtual space where you arrive is the primary virtual room. That primary room can be broken up into several sub-rooms called breakout sessions. The Zoom meeting host has the ability to split the primary room into several breakout rooms.


Why use breakout rooms in your virtual conference platform?

Attendee engagement is vital to a successful virtual conference. A useful way to keep your attendees active is to break up large virtual sessions into small breakout sessions.

When hosting a virtual session with a large audience in a single room, you run this risk of your attendees becoming disengaged. Video calls require enough focus from attendees as it is, so why not offer an opportunity to switch it up a bit?

Breakout sessions provide an opportunity for attendees to engage in small groups. These sessions enable attendees to collaborate, network, or brainstorm. Breakout sessions give attendees an opportunity to press the unmute button for once.

Providing your attendees an opportunity to network is essential to a successful conference. The U.S. Travel Association reports that 48% of attendees cited networking with vendors as the main purpose of showing up to conferences and trade shows. 

Many organizations see the importance of breakout rooms in virtual conferences. According to EventsMB, a whopping 73% of conferences included a collaborative workshop within their agendas. 

Implementing a virtual conference platform with breakout rooms is not always easy. That’s why it’s important to choose a platform that can provide the support you need.


What does a virtual conference with breakout rooms look like?

A lot of our virtual conference partners at OpenWater run academic events where niche networking opportunities are paramount. When we worked with AAG, one of the best outcomes for attendees were breakout rooms (we like to call them “coffee sessions!”)

Each conference session has its own dedicated page in OpenWater. These pages enable comments and chat rooms, as well as the ability for attendees to join breakout sessions with presenters.

NCORE had a great strategy for including breakout sessions for their virtual conference. In our recent case study, we asked what advice the organizer has for hosting a virtual conference. “A virtual conference . . . can be an engaging experience,” she said. “Our advice would be to kick off each day with breakout networking sessions by topic.”


In conclusion

Hosting a virtual conference is complicated. We understand that breakout sessions are the last thing you want to worry about when running a virtual conference. However, virtual conference platforms with breakout rooms are worth having to enhance the attendee conference experience.

OpenWater provides a healthy balance of tech, support, and training. We’ll make sure your virtual event breakouts are a successful component to your virtual conference. Feel free to request a demo, and one of our representatives will reach out!

Will Flaherty

Will is a Digital Marketing Specialist at OpenWater. He can be contacted at

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