Learning how to use Zoom's breakout rooms is essential for running meetings efficiently. Breakout rooms are separate, exclusive sessions from your main Zoom meeting. The main session's host can choose which attendees to place in certain breakout rooms.
Chances are you know all about Zoom calls. Maybe, you could even write an entire manual on how to get started with Zoom! After the unprecedented 2020, the video conferencing platform has seen massive growth. However, virtual meetings can quickly become a downer. But there’s one feature to your rescue - Zoom Breakout Rooms.
What are Zoom Breakout Rooms? It is a way to break larger meetings into smaller meetings. Breakout Rooms imitate our ‘in-person’ version of having group discussions.
Large meetings might not help increase team collaboration. They can be daunting and run the risk of reducing engagement. According to a survey by the University of North Carolina, 71% of meetings are unproductive. And technical video conferencing problems are never the only reason!
Luckily, Zoom’s feature can help you navigate the world of virtual meetings better. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to get started with Breakout Rooms!
In the grand scheme of virtual meetings, engagement and collaboration are often lost in conversation. This is where Zoom Breakout Rooms enter the picture! Participants in large meetings can break away or split into smaller groups for focused discussions. This feature is quite similar to our ‘in-person’ group conversations. Moreover, Breakout Rooms allow anywhere from 2 to 50 participants. Once a Breakout session is over, participants can head back to the main Zoom meeting.
It’s pretty easy to get started with Breakout Rooms. All you need to do is sign into your Zoom account and enable the feature!
Before we dive into Breakout Rooms, here are ten points to keep in mind:
We’ve covered the basics; let’s see how to enable Breakout Rooms. Here are four steps to get started:
Using your desktop system, sign in to your Zoom account. Do note - To enable Breakout Rooms, you must use Zoom’s website and not the mobile app.
Once you sign in, glance over the left sidebar. Here, under the Personal section, click on Settings.
Within Settings, you will see six different tabs - Meeting, Recording, Audio Conferencing, Collaboration, Devices, Zoom Apps, and Whiteboard. Click on the Meeting tab. Under it, you can scroll and toggle the Breakout Option.
Or select the In Meeting (Advanced) option to quickly see the Breakout Room. Alternatively, you can also type Breakout Room in the search bar above the tabs.
Once the Breakout Room is enabled, additional options will be displayed. These are:
Check the ones that you’d like to have in your Breakout Room. Do note that the last three options are only available with Zoom version 5.10.3 or later.
Read More: Zoom Icebreakers For Work Meetings
Here’s how you can access Breakout Rooms during Zoom Calls. Just follow the steps mentioned below:
Log into your Zoom account using your Laptop or Desktop. Remember that only the host of a meeting can create Breakout Rooms.
After logging in, you have the option to either schedule a meeting or launch a new meeting.
Once you start a Zoom session, look at the toolbar at the bottom. Here, you’ll find the Breakout Rooms option. Clicking on it will open up a pop-up menu.
You’ll see a few options in the pop-up menu. First, select the number of Breakout Rooms you want to create. This will depend on the group size and the goal of your meeting. Next, you’ll find three options below it -
(i) Assign Automatically - Zoom will randomly assign groups of participants to different Breakout Rooms.
(ii) Assign Manually - The host or the co-host decides to assign a participant to a particular Breakout Room.
(iii) Let Participants Choose Room - This allows participants to self-select their Breakout Room.
Do note - Choosing the third option means your participants will also get access to other Breakout Rooms. This will allow them to move in and out of different Breakout Rooms.
We’ll get back to managing Breakout Rooms in a minute. First, let’s see how to pre-assign participants to different rooms. Do note that to pre-assign, your participants must have a zoom account.
Here’s the route you need to take:
The first step remains the same! Go to Zoom’s web portal and log in using your credentials.
Now, go to settings and enable Breakout Rooms within the In Meeting (Advanced) option. Check the option, ‘Assign participants to Breakout Rooms when scheduling.’ Finally, hit Save.
Next, click on Meetings on the left sidebar and select Schedule a Meeting. Type in all the meeting details.
Scroll and find the Options section and click on the Show text.
Once you click on Show, Zoom will display the entire Options section. Find and check the option Breakout Room pre-assign. This will display two options Create Rooms and Import from CSV.
As mentioned in the last step, there are two methods to pre-assign participants. The first is the Manual Method, and the second is the CSV File Method.
If you want to manually set up your Breakout Room, click the Create Rooms option. Following this, a Breakout Room Assignment window will pop up.
You need to click on the plus icon next to the text Rooms. This will allow you to add more Breakout Rooms.
Now, on the right, you’ll see a text bar that says Add participants. To add participants to a particular room, simply type the name or the email id of the person.
A pencil icon will appear if you hover over the Room text on the right. Click on it to rename the room.
Adding participants manually is time-consuming. Hence, it is best to create an excel sheet containing your participants' names and email ids.
Click on the Import From CSV option. If you want to see how to format your CSV File, download the CSV template displayed on the pop-up window. Next, drag and drop your completed CSV file in the Zoom window.
Read More: The Ultimate Zoom Feature Guide 2021
By now, you have a hang of Breakout Rooms. Here’s how to be on your A-game while managing Breakout Rooms as a host:
As a host, you can switch between different rooms. During a Zoom call, click on the Breakout Rooms Icon displayed in the Meetings Control Toolbar.
This will open up the Breakout Rooms window. To go to a selected Breakout Room, click on the Join button displayed right next to that room.
From the Meetings Control Toolbar, click on Breakout Rooms. Next, select Broadcast Voice or Message option. Then, enter your message and hit the send icon. For broadcasting voice, click on the Broadcast Voice Icon.
From the Meeting Controls, select the Share Screen option.
Next, click on the share to Breakout Rooms option. Finally, select whether you want to share your entire screen, a window, or an open program.
If a participant asks for your help, you will receive a prompt from Zoom asking you to join that particular Breakout Room. Simply click on Join Breakout Room to be taken to the Breakout Room.
You can head to the Breakout Room Settings to control what happens during the meeting. Here, you’ll see options:
Most of the time, you’ll join Zoom meetings as a participant. Hence, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the Breakout option. Another reason is that Breakout Rooms operate differently for participants (when compared to hosts).
Here are a few zoom breakout room tips to avoid any last-minute confusion:
The host will send you an invitation to join a Breakout Room. Next, you’ll see a pop-up asking you to join the Room. You can either click on the Join or the Later option. If you select the Later option, you can always head to the Breakout Room by clicking on the same in the meetings control toolbar.
The host has to enable the self-select feature. This will allow you to choose the Breakout Room you’d like to join!
Additionally, you can also move in and out of different rooms. From the Meetings control, select Breakout Rooms. This will display a list of open rooms. On the right of the Breakout Rooms mentioned, there will be a Join option. Click on it!
The in-chat feature remains the same even in Breakout Rooms. You can message other participants and share files, links, images, etc. However, you’ll need the host’s approval to use the screen-share feature.
If you need help, invite the host to your Breakout Room. To do this, locate and click the Ask For Help option in the Meetings Control toolbar (at the bottom of your screen). Next, you’ll see a pop-up asking you to confirm the invitation. Clicking on it will notify the host that you need assistance.
You might want to return to the main session or leave the meeting entirely. To quit, simply click on the Leave Breakout Room option. This will display two options: (i) Leave Breakout Room (ii) Leave Meeting (to leave the entire meeting altogether).
You need the approval of a host to record in a Breakout Room.
Once you get permission, go to the Meetings Control toolbar and click on Record.
Virtual meetings are critical for remote teams. However, employees often complain about feeling overwhelmed by meetings.
Breakout Rooms are a great way to get out of the ‘meeting funk’ that plagues remote workers. Here are a few examples to add fun to Breakout Rooms:
Remote work relies on smooth collaboration. So, including Ice Breakers is an excellent way for team members to get to know each other. You can involve fun virtual games and activities to lighten employees up!
Looking for suggestions? Here are 50+ Icebreaker Questions for Ultimate Team Building at Work.
Another great team-building exercise is Trivia game nights! You can ask one team member in each group to create a list of questions on a particular topic. Next, you can split your employees into different Breakout Rooms and start quizzing them!
Here’s a guide to get started with Trivia Game Nights: 100 Team Trivia Questions for Fun & Team Bonding
In virtual settings, Breakout Rooms can double up as your office boardroom. In large meetings, time is a limitation. However, breakout sessions can offer respite. You can bounce off ideas, business strategies, and the workweek by brainstorming and having group discussions.
Breakout Rooms can also be a great way to have unstructured feedback sessions. Especially if you are onboarding new employees in a virtual setting.
The host can assign a senior employee to every Breakout Room with a group of junior employees. Seniors can discuss areas of improvement, explain work culture, and clear doubts employees might have about their work.
Fun Fact: How much does your meeting actually cost in monetary terms? Use this calculator by Harvard Business Review to find out: Meeting Cost Calculator
If you are worried about your team’s lack of engagement and low morale, then Breakout Rooms can be a savior in disguise! Here are a few activity ideas to get things rolling:
Who doesn’t find misheard lyrics amusing? Go ahead and turn it into a virtual activity!
Here, every team member can share the lyrics of the song they’ve misheard. The team member that gets the most laughs wins the game!
This one is for all series and movie buffs out there! Here, the team moderator will summarize the movie/series in a few words (without revealing a lot, of course!).
The team member that guesses the movie correctly wins the game!
Moreover, you can even try changing things up a bit. Instead of narrating, team moderators can share a frame from the movie and ask, “Which movie is this frame from?”
An apt virtual activity for members who love to play detective! You can add an emoji spin to the traditional Guess Who game.
Every player will privately send a screenshot of their frequently used emojis to the team moderator.
Next, the moderator begins the game by sharing the screenshots with all players. The player that guesses the individual behind the screenshot wins the game.
Some even call this virtual game emoji-ology!
Have artsy team members? Put their drawing skills to the test with this guessing game!
Pictionary is a popular choice for virtual team-building activities. A team moderator will privately text a word to the other player.
Next, the player has to share their screen and draw the word using a whiteboard or MS paint. The drawing cannot include numbers, letters, or words. The player who gets the most answers right wins the game!
The Worst Five is a straightforward game. One member (or team moderator) in your Breakout Room can choose a category - movies, films, books, etc. Next, participants will share their Worst Five picks in that category.
Say, for instance, a team member chooses movies. Every participant has to list their Worst Five movies with a short summary of why they dislike the same.
So -that’s all you need to started! If you ever find yourself stuck at any stage of Zoom Breakout Rooms, jump right back into this guide!
In the end, it’s team productivity that we are chasing, not long meeting hours. Zoom Breakout Rooms are a step in the right direction. It helps you have small peer-to-peer meetings to increase engagement and productivity.
With this feature, the Zoom host can pre-assign or pre-arrange participants to different Breakout Rooms while scheduling a meeting.
Participants need to have a Zoom Account. Additionally, the host can only use this feature if they have the Email-IDs of all the participants.
First, you need to enable Breakout Rooms by going to the Settings section. Next, to create Breakout Rooms in advance, follow the steps below:
In general, Zoom Breakout Rooms are not recorded. Cloud-recorded meetings only record the main session and not the Breakout Rooms.
However, Breakout Rooms can be recorded using the local recording feature. But, participants need the permission of the host to record. The host can permit multiple participants to record their Breakout Room meetings.
Yes, Breakout Rooms are numbered. You can create up to 50 Breakout Rooms at a time. The total number of participants in each room depends on three factors:
(i) The meeting capacity
(ii) No. of Breakout Rooms
(iii) Participants assigned during or before the meeting
No. of Breakout Rooms vs
Maximum No. of Participants
20 Breakout Rooms
Up to 500 participants
30 Breakout Rooms
Up to 400 participants
50 Breakout Rooms
Up to 200 participants
For further clarification, read Zoom’s Managing Breakout Rooms article. You’ll get an idea about the no. of participants and Breakout Rooms that are allowed.
For participants, Breakout Rooms are free of cost. All you have to do is sign into your Zoom account, go to Settings, and enable the feature.
However, the host has to pay a monthly or annual fee. The monthly subscription fee is $49, with an additional $41.58 (per month) for every room. Finally, the yearly subscription fee is $499.
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