Here are a few best practices and creative use cases for how to use Zoom breakout rooms
Picture this: it’s 4:00 pm on a Friday. You’re approaching the end of the fifth Zoom meeting on the fifth day of a week of meeting, after meeting, after meeting–and you’re exhausted.
While flexible remote work certainly has its benefits, Zoom has become a must-have tool for the hybrid workplace – and it requires many hours of staring at screens, which can be taxing and draining.
It also requires expert Zoom Rooms setup, which presents a considerable challenge for online event hosts, teachers, and team leaders. Creating engaging web-based networking events, educational experiences, and collaborative work sessions requires ingenuity. In the quest to make life online more interesting, many have turned to Zoom’s Breakout Rooms feature.
On a basic level, Breakout Rooms give Zoom users the opportunity to break up the structure of online meetings. But in the age of remote work and distributed collaboration, Breakout Rooms can be an essential part of creating dynamic online experiences.
What are Zoom Breakout Rooms?
As part of the standard Zoom Room setup, breakout rooms are private video chats that branch out from your central zoom Meeting. They give meeting participants the opportunity to have small group discussions completely separate from a primary call. Meeting attendees have all of the same video, audio, and screen share capabilities that they would in the main Zoom room.
Before you try to create your first breakout rooms in Zoom, here are some important things you need to know:
- Creating Breakout Rooms: Anyone with a Zoom account can create up to 50 Breakout Rooms in a call that they are hosting. However, make sure you first enable the setting in the Zoom web portal in order to use this feature.
- Managing Breakout Rooms: The host can manually or automatically decide who goes in which breakout room. The call host has the power to end breakout sessions and reconvene call participants in the main discussion room.
- Restrictions & Limitations: Breakout Rooms can only be created and managed through Zoom’s desktop client–unfortunately, Zoom’s mobile app won’t work. However, you can still join and participate in breakout rooms through the app.
Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to get creative. There are many ways that Breakout Rooms can be used to facilitate new experiences and build connections in the online world. Here are just a few.
How to use breakout rooms in Zoom
Use Case #1: Networking at online events
Breakout Rooms are an essential part of online networking experiences.
In today’s world, many of the events and conferences that would have previously been held in person now occur online. This makes events more accessible and environmentally friendly–however, networking can be a challenge in online spaces.
Breakout rooms are a great way to provide event attendees with organic opportunities to meet and speak with each other. Randomizing breakout rooms can allow attendees to virtually “bump” into people that wouldn’t ordinarily cross their paths; pre-selecting attendees gives hosts the power to engineer meetings between important clients.
If you’re thinking about using Zoom Breakout Rooms as a way to support networking, be sure not to make the discussions too big. Smaller discussions support better connections between attendees.
Use Case #2: Creative collaboration among distributed teams
Distributed and hybrid workspaces are more popular than ever. Companies benefit from a wider pool of talented remote workers, while employees can enjoy a greater level of flexibility in their working environments. However, cultivating and maintaining strong working relationships between remote and on-site employees can be a challenge.
It’s human nature to form relationships based on proximity. Therefore, employees who come into the office on a regular basis may be more likely to develop strong collaborative connections with other employees who also regularly go into the office.
This can cause fragmentation: employees who see each other in person gravitate toward one another, while those who work remotely are drawn to other telecommuters. Without intervention, there can be little interaction between the two groups.
Zoom Breakout Rooms are a great way to support collaboration between team members that don’t normally interact. This is great for creativity: variety powers innovation.
Use Case #3: Dynamic and engaging educational discussions
Remote working has presented a unique set of challenges to employees around the world. However, workers aren’t the only ones who’ve had to make big adjustments to life online: students of every age and subject have struggled to adapt to online learning.
As a result, teachers have found that Breakout Rooms are an essential educational tool. Even the most engaging lecture can become monotonous after hours of starting at a screen. The small group discussions that students can have in breakout rooms engages them with the learning material in new and invigorating ways.
Teachers can also drop into Breakout Rooms to check how discussions are going (so, kids, don’t goof off too much.)
Use Case #4: Workshops and brainstorming sessions
Online workshops have been a popular part of internet culture for quite some time. Zoom Breakout Rooms can add a new dimension to the static traditional, flow from presentations and questions from the audience that many online workshops still rely on.
Zoom Breakout Sessions give webinar attendees the opportunity to form deeper connections to whatever it is you’re presenting. So that means that you’re able to anchor the larger learning experience in more intimate interactions that resonate with attendees.
Whether you’re providing online counseling services, training project managers, or teaching singing lessons, the people who are attending your session are there for a reason. Giving them the opportunity to talk and problem-solve with one another will enrich their experiences.
Related: What’s a Zoom Room?
As you practice how to use breakout rooms in Zoom, you’ll notice the benefit when it comes to brainstorming. When done remotely, these sessions can devolve into a noisy mess quite quickly. And it’s that noise that can prevent quieter people from contributing – or simply cause too much chaos for more than a few people to truly contribute.
To build meaningful discussions around brainstorming topics, try breakout sessions. Whether randomly assigned or thoughtfully curate, these groups can then work together to get real work done – and then present back to the broader group. That way, only a designated person shares with everyone else, making it much easier to manage – and get valuable brainstorming results.
It’s all about connection
Across all of these use cases, Zoom’s Breakout Rooms feature supports the creation of one key component: human connection. By allowing people to engage directly with one another, we create the opportunity to have meaningful experiences. With hybrid work continuing for the foreseeable future, these types of experiences mean even more.
There are many ways to use Zoom Breakout Rooms to create more engaging experiences among internal teams and external stakeholders alike. Make these a feature of your sessions as often as possible, so that your larger teams can connect at a more personal level.