UCL News


Today's Zoom Tip – 14 January 2021

14 January 2021

This week we are highlighting how to get the best out of using the breakout rooms feature in Zoom.


Zoom breakout rooms 

Using breakout rooms during a meeting works well for a number of engagement activities, such as brainstorming, problem-solving or role-playing, but there are a few things to consider before using them. 

How will the participants be organised? 

This determines how you set up the breakout rooms. If you have a list of attendees and you would like them to be organised into the same groups throughout the session you can pre-assign breakout rooms in advance. 
However, if you want the option to change or mix up the participants during the session, or let them move freely between rooms (self-select), then don’t pre-assign. If you opt for the flexible approach, schedule some time to plan how you will organise the rooms and allow movement between them. 

Please note: the self-select option for breakout rooms is only available if both the host and participants are using Zoom version 5.3.0 or above. 

Key resources: 

Setting expectations 

It’s useful to have a clear idea of what you want your participants to do in the breakout rooms, and what (if any) feedback you would like them to share upon returning to the main room. 

Top tip: remember – once participants are in the breakout rooms they can no longer see the main room.   

It’s important to set up the task or activity for completion before the breakout rooms start. Explain to attendees what they are expected to do or discuss whilst in their sub-groups, and, if appropriate, how. For example, you might provide the details for a Mentimeter presentation if you want them to respond to some pre-defined questions; or perhaps put some resources in the breakout room chat for the group to use or refer to. 
If you are using facilitators for the breakout rooms, make sure they have all the resources required for the activity, introduce them to the group and explain their role in relation to the task. 

It’s also important to flag if you will be dropping into the various breakout rooms whilst they are in session. It can be a bit disconcerting for participants when people suddenly appear! 

A final point – preparation is key

Before running any breakout sessions with participants, it is always worth having a practice session with colleagues. This will help to identify any confusing instructions and iron out any technical problems.