Overview and other resources
Important – before your meeting
You must enable breakout rooms in your “settings” on your account on the Zoom website https://zoom.us/signin BEFORE the meeting starts. You only have to do this once, as your settings are remembered.
Things you may not know about Breakout Rooms (BORs)
Things you can do
- Choose the number of rooms
- Name the rooms
- Assign people automatically to rooms (Zoom does this) OR assign people manually (you do it)
- Move people around just before you open the rooms
- Pre-assign people to groups before the meeting (with restrictions)
- Broadcast a message to everyone at any time
Things you may not know
- Hosts and co-hosts can move freely between rooms
- When you create Breakout Rooms, the “Main Session” is also a “room” (see picture right)
It is where you (the Host) remain until you join a room. And where people return, when they leave their room
- When you open the Breakout Rooms, you can watch as people join their rooms – and see who hasn’t joined
- When/if someone leaves their room, they return to the Main Session (see picture right)
- Anyone can request “Help” from the Host at any time
Tricks not provided by Zoom (but explained below)
- Let people choose which room they go in
- Have a facilitator / co-host in each room
- Have everyone see notes, questions, instructions when in their rooms
- Have everyone contribute to one single document when in separate rooms (e.g. collecting ideas)
Limitations to be aware of
- Host only: Only the Host can create, open and close BORs
- Come out of Chat first: if anyone is on an Android (tablet or smart phone) and in Chat, they won’t go into their BOR until they come out of Chat
- Recording: does not happen automatically inside BORs
- Muting: Co-hosts cannot mute people in breakout rooms
- Chat: chat can get lost for some people in and out of BORs
For computers/laptops (PCs or Macs)
- Your chat is (usually) continued/retained into and out of a Breakout Room. Although there have been reports of it being lost/restarted.
For iPads, iPhones, tablets and smart phones
- Chat from the Main Session is not visible in Breakout Rooms
- Each time you join a Breakout Room any existing Chat is cleared/lost and you start with an empty Chat
- When you leave a Breakout Room, any Chat in that room is cleared/lost and you start with an empty Chat
Using Breakout Rooms (BORs)
Possible issues with Breakout Rooms (BORs)
Possible uses for Breakout Rooms
- Paired Sharing: Excellent and efficient for a short, quick paired sharing. Good for having people feel connected and having been heard.
Turn on “Move all participants into Breakout Rooms automatically” in “Options” to make this fast. Broadcast a message when its time to swap.
- Small group discussions: split large groups into smaller groups to allow more people to speak. Consider having a facilitator in each room and/or getting the group to choose a facilitator to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak and is equally heard.
- Support people new to Zoom: At the start of a long session or series of sessions, tell people you’re sending them into Breakout Rooms in small groups, but tell anyone who wants a little extra help with using Zoom to click “Later” and stay in the Main Session. Make sure you turn off “Move all participants into Breakout Rooms automatically” in “Options” – so people get to choose whether they go into the BOR or stay in the Main Session.
- Have a facilitator/co-host mini meeting during the main meeting: Create just one Breakout Room and choose “assign participants automatically” – so everyone gets put into one room. Then add a second room and move all the facilitators/co-hosts into that one (perhaps leaving one person with the participants). You can now have a mini meeting in ‘Breakout Room 2’, while everyone else is in ‘Breakout Room 1’.
Optional: once you’ve moved all the facilitators/co-hosts into Room 2, you can then delete that room, leaving them unassigned, so they’ll stay in the Main Session. The difference is if latecomers join the meeting and/or anyone chooses to leave their BOR (if you’ve got that Option turned on).