Work in breakout groups

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TL;DR recommendations
—Pick the right setting depending on the goals —Lead with clear instructions and clarify doubts — Keep each group on track and offer support —Plan enough time for harvest after the breakouts

Breakouts are somewhat of a secret sauce for great facilitation. Wondering why?

—Small group conversations change the dynamic of the discussion and help you maintain energy

—They allow for a more inviting and comfortable space for introverts to contribute

—The conversation can go deeper, often allowing for more vulnerability of honesty from participants

—They bring efficiency into big sessions since smaller groups can work on the same topic simultaneously and contribute equally

Here are our top tips for seamless breakouts in your sessions:

👉 Tip #1: Pick the right breakout setting for your session

Depending on the goal of the activity, you can choose between these two main scenarios:

—Break people into random equal-sized groups, and ask them to work on a similar challenge simultaneously. Use this format when you have a clear outcome: connect, narrow down on a problem, brainstorm solutions, work through a framework, etc. One example is this “Fortunately, Unfortunately” breakout activity (an energizer inspired by a classic improv exercise), or this “Drawing from 4 corners” activity to build psychological safety and belonging in a team by creating a connecting experience outside the comfort zone.

—Or you can create a looser conversation structure by allowing participants to pick the breakout they want to contribute to, and even allow them to move from room to room. Use this during explorative activities to open up conversations around different topics and create a different experience in each room. A great use case is the so-called World Café format, which invites groups to explore different topics in each room and move rooms even 10-20 minutes to build on each other’s ideas.

👉 Tip #2: Lead with clear instructions

Ensure you prepare clear instructions for the groups before sending them off. Inform them about the duration, the size of the group, the tasks or goals they have, any tools they have at their disposal (e.g. whiteboards, flashcards), who and how will they keep track of time, and how the groups will share back their findings afterward.

A best practice here is to have the instructions in writing, so you can share them in the chat and broadcast them to all rooms after you send them away.

Other important information to share here is guidance on how they can ask for support in case they run into any issues while in breakouts.

👉 Tip #3: Clarify doubts

Before you open the rooms, invite participants to ask clarifying questions or share any doubts about the activity. Rephrase “Does anyone have any questions?” into “What’s still unclear about this activity?”. If no questions come, follow with “Give me a thumbs-up if you’re ready to go” and open the breakouts.

👉 Tip #4: Keep each group on track and offer support

When immersed in conversation, it’s easy to lose track of time or miss details regarding the tasks that must be completed. Luckily, we’ve learned some tips you can apply to ensure each group progresses.

—Keep an eye on the “Activity” data in Butter breakouts: you’ll see which groups are most active, and where they are less chatty, prompting you to intervene and clarify if needed. —Add tasks to your breakouts and tell participants they must tick them off as they advance. You’ll have an overview of the task progression, allowing you to check in with the groups falling behind. —Keep track of time for them using the broadcast feature. Inform them when you’re at half-time and when they need to wrap up (1-2 minutes before you close the rooms). —Use the “Observe” feature in Butter to listen into the conversation and ensure the groups are immersed in the tasks and the conversation flows. —Keep your eyes on the chat for each room to easily spot questions or doubts or any tech challenges they might have.

👉 Tip #5: Plan enough time for the harvest

After participants return from the breakouts, land the activity in the main room and lead a so-called “harvest” moment. There are several ways you can harvest the learnings after breakouts: —Popcorn style: Invite them to share an insight or costing that stood out during the breakout conversations. They can use the queue feature to line up. —Each group shares: If you have time, and it’s important to collect insights from each group, you can ask a representative from each group to share back. Remember to include this in the instructions at the beginning of the activity. —Open-ended poll: You can open a poll with a question prompt, add some music, and invite participants to share their reflections in the poll. If the topic is sensitive, you can make the poll anonymous.

And you want to learn how to set your breakouts up for success in Butter, these three tutorials will teach you everything you need to know! 1. How to set up B