Tips For Using Zoom’s Breakout Rooms Feature

by Ally Howard

My name is Ally, and I am an associate director of alumni chapters with the Alumni Association—but I probably could add “Zoom Expert” to that. I assume you have been on at least one Zoom call, or perhaps even hundreds!

Did you know that Zoom has many meeting options, including the opportunity to create breakout rooms for Zoom participants? Essentially, a breakout room on Zoom is exactly what you think it would be. You can divide participants into sub-groups and give each sub-group their own “room” in Zoom so the people within the sub-group only see and hear each other. It’s a useful tool for getting discussions going among smaller groups of people.

If you have looked into using breakout rooms, you may already know that Zoom has an option to assign breakout rooms to attendees before the event begins. While this sounds great in theory, after our experience with a live event, we quickly realized there are quite a few kinks in the pre-event room assigning process. Take it from me, the Zoom Expert (my certification may be from the Zoom “school of hard knocks”).

Here are some things to avoid when using breakout rooms in Zoom:

  • If you must pre-assign your breakout rooms, ensure that the e-mail addresses you upload to Zoom are the addresses your participants will use to log into the Zoom Meeting. If not, the participants will not sort properly into the intended rooms.
  • If your goal is to have individuals in specific breakout rooms, prepare to sort your participants manually once your Zoom event begins and allow yourself extra time to accomplish this.
  • If you really want to use breakout rooms, consider the option of having individuals randomly assigned. This is the simplest way to use the breakout room option.

Zoom fatigue is very real, and we need all the help we can get to have successful and engaging Zoom meetings and events. When planning a Zoom meeting or webinar, consider what your end goal is for your participants. Once you’ve done that, then consider any specifics you need to accomplish your goals; including whether you need breakout rooms or other options. The simpler you can keep your Zoom event, the better!

Have additional questions about using breakout rooms in Zoom? Contact Ally.

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