Interactive Event Opening to Help Your Attendees Select Breakouts

Juraj Holub

If you organize an event with multiple tracks, your attendees will sooner than later face the dilemma of which session to attend. As everyone wants to maximize own learning, it is always a tough choice. And in most cases, it is done solely on the gut feeling and brief description in the agenda.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way.

We recently attended the amazing Dell’s #Social360 UnConference at SXSW that very effectively introduced speakers during the opening session and offered snippets of their topics to help people select the right track later in the day.

I hope I have whetted your appetite. This is how they did it.


With nine panelists, the organizers didn’t want to bore people with nine individual stories and knowledge sharing in the traditional way that you’d expect at conventional conferences.

To live up to the concept of the unconference, they wanted to engage people right from the get-go and let them co-create their program.

After all, the whole idea of #Social360 was to create a collaborative forum where attendees could exchange ideas, get a better understanding of trends, and share best practices with one another.

So they decided to gamify the whole experience and have a game instead of lengthy introductions, which consisted of two parts:

  • A quiz to introduce speakers
  • Selection of breakout sessions with live polls

Introducing speakers with a quiz

“We started with a survey game that people are familiar with from popular TV trivia games. So we surveyed about 50 MBA students [prior to the event] and asked them social media questions that we intermixed with commentary from the speakers,”said event organizer Ami Heiss.

Once the conference got underway, the presenters who also happened to be social media and marketing experts were divided into two teams and the host asked a series of questions based on the pre-event survey and let teams guess the right answers. If a team guessed one of the top three answers from the survey results, it gained points.

Extra tip: You can easily run pre-event surveys via Slido and then display the results during the event.

For audience members, the trivia game had a number of benefits.

Firstly, posing questions openly got people to think about the topic and take a guess themselves. It effectively pointed out knowledge gaps that needed to be filled in later during the day.

Secondly, in between the trivia questions, the moderator asked a plethora of followup questions or, as he termed them, bonus questions, to enable presenters to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise.

To give you a better idea, one such question was, How to align business goals with social media strategy? Mark Schaefer, one of the speakers, commented: “We’re now moving beyond conversation. We have to align with goals that add value to our stakeholders. You can go broke talking to people.”

And lastly, this introduction method offered delegates a great overview of the topics and allowed them to select the speaker from whom they wanted to hear more.

Letting the audience decide on the breakout sessions’ agenda

As soon as the trivia quiz was over, the organizers moved on. And as one of the unconference fundamentals is letting participants co-create the agenda, #Social360 enabled people to democratically select the sessions.

To do that, they used a series of live polls.

Ami Heiss explained that they were eager “to hear from the audience what they wanted to hear more of, so that they truly get to pick what people are going to talk about next in the break-outs, and how they’re going to get more in-depth in their topics.”

The moderator ran four polls, each with two options to let the audience choose which one of the proposed topics they wanted to discuss during breakout sessions.

At the end of the polling, the organizing team ended up with four sessions that the audience could attend based on their preferences. This way, the organizers could ensure the maximum relevancy of the program and avoid any guesswork.


Quizzing speakers on the event theme was a super-engaging way to open #Social360 UnConference. Not only did the organizers help delegates get acquainted with the lineup, they also eased their decision-making process. And using live polls allowed the audience to democratically conceive the program in real time.

Dell’s #Social360 UnConference at SXSW made a strong impression on us. And we are thrilled that they picked up Slido to give a voice to their audience.

“Slido made it extremely easy for our audience to share their voice. It was a really easy survey tool. Engaging audience is really what we wanted to do and you cannot do that with a complex tool. Slido made the perfect sense in this situation.” concluded Ami Heiss.

Many thanks for sharing your story with us, Ami.

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