How to Enable and Configure Breakout Rooms Feature in Zoom

Zoom’s breakout rooms feature allows meeting hosts to split Zoom meetings into separate, smaller group sessions for more focused discussions. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to enable and configure breakout rooms in Zoom based on my 10 years of experience using Zoom for online training and meetings.

Enabling Breakout Rooms

The first step is to enable the breakout rooms feature in your Zoom account settings:

  1. Sign in to the Zoom web portal.
  2. Click on “Settings” on the left sidebar.
  3. Navigate to the “Meeting” tab.
  4. Under “In Meeting (Advanced)”, toggle on the “Breakout Room” option.
  5. Click on “Turn On” if a verification prompt appears.

Once enabled, the breakout rooms button will appear for all your future Zoom meetings.

Configuring Breakout Room Settings

You can customize additional breakout room settings to suit your needs:

  • Allow meeting host to pre-assign participants – With this enabled, you can manually assign participants to rooms in advance. Useful for recurring meetings with set teams.
  • Allow participants to choose room – Participants can select and move between rooms on their own during a meeting. Good for informal discussions.
  • Breakout rooms close automatically – Rooms can be set to automatically close after a specified time and return participants to the main meeting.

Creating Breakout Rooms

There are two ways to create breakout rooms – pre-assign users before the meeting, or assign rooms during an ongoing meeting:

Before the Meeting

  1. Edit your upcoming meeting in Zoom and enable “Breakout room pre-assign”.
  2. Click “Create rooms” and specify the number of rooms needed.
  3. Manually assign participants to each room or let Zoom assign randomly.
  4. Rooms will be created automatically when you start the meeting.

During a Meeting

  1. Click on “Breakout rooms” in your meeting controls.
  2. Specify the number of rooms and assignment method.
  3. Click “Create rooms”.
  4. Manage the rooms and participants during the meeting as needed.

Best Practices for Breakout Rooms

Here are some tips to help your breakout room sessions be more organized and productive:

  • Provide clear instructions on the task or discussion topic before splitting into rooms. Set a time limit.
  • Visit each room periodically to check if they need any help.
  • Use the “Broadcast message” feature to send announcements to all rooms simultaneously.
  • Have participants share what they discussed after returning to the main room. Summarize key takeaways.
  • Ask for feedback on what worked well or could be improved for next time.

Troubleshooting Breakout Rooms

Here are solutions to some common breakout room issues:

  • Rooms not starting – Ensure the feature is enabled in your account settings first. Refresh the Zoom window and try again.
  • Participants not moving to rooms – Ask them to manually click “Join” next to the room name on their Zoom window.
  • Can’t close rooms – The host needs to close the rooms so ask all participants to return to the main room first.

And that’s it! With breakout rooms enabled and properly configured, you can facilitate more engaging small group discussions in your Zoom meetings. Let me know if you have any other questions!