Updated: May 01, 2023

24 Helpful Zoom Breakout Room Tips

Here is our list of the best Zoom breakout room tips.

Zoom breakout room tips are tricks you can use to conduct an interactive Zoom meeting in a breakout room. These tips help manage sessions and seminars that might otherwise be exhausting due to their longer duration. Examples include saving annotations, keeping sessions short, and knowing the controls. The purpose of these tips is to give participants a break during meetings and strengthen communication among the attendees.

​These tips help attendees and leaders alike maintain good Zoom etiquette. When planning your Zoom event, you might want to include Zoom icebreaker games and Zoom icebreaker questions. You can also integrate other Zoom apps for a seamless experience.

This list includes:

  • Zoom breakout room instructions
  • Zoom breakout room settings
  • Zoom breakout room tricks
  • Zoom breakout room tips for teachers
  • Zoom breakout room tips for meetings

Let’s go!

List of Zoom breakout room tips

Taking part in Zoom breakout room activities is a great way to combat session fatigue. Whether you are a business professional or a teacher, breakout room activities require basic knowledge of the tricks and settings of Zoom breakout rooms. Here is our list of helpful tips and Zoom breakout room instructions for creating the most productive and engaging breakout room experiences.

1. Understand the Zoom breakout room settings

When deciding on Zoom breakout room settings, remember that your decisions benefit more reserved employees, making it easier for them to adjust in interactive group work settings.

You should be aware of Zoom breakout room settings for adding members to an already-formed group in case participants leave after the main room meeting. You can only use the breakout room option for meetings consisting of 300 or fewer participants. Below are steps and features of the Zoom breakout room you should know:

  • Operate Zoom meetings from desktop versions of Microsoft Teams to create and manage breakout rooms.
  • Select the Breakout Rooms button from the bottom row of the meeting interface to check your premade rooms. A pop-up Breakout Rooms menu will appear. From here, you can create or delete breakout rooms and shuffle the participants around. However, make sure that you can only add participants from the original meeting panel.
  • The Re-Create option is available if you wish to reassign all the rooms. Remember, this option will change the name of the breakout rooms to the default setting.
  • To avoid last-minute changes in the name list, deselect the Let Participants Choose Room option on the room number menu bar.

Familiarizing yourself with Zoom breakout room settings will prevent last-minute delays. Having an assistant by your side is also helpful for navigating the event.

2. Circulate a guide map

Circulating a guide map before the Zoom session will help participants navigate the meeting. You can make a guide map before the event, which will include the games and activities you will conduct in sequence. It is also useful to mention the time allocated for each activity. This step will help employees manage their time.

Also, when attendees know what will happen in the meeting, they can come well-prepared.

The guide map can also include steps for joining the meeting and using controls for beginners.

3. Know the controls

To host an effective event, the participants need to understand the inner workings of Zoom and the breakout rooms. Therefore, you should use visual aids and tutorial links to prepare your participants beforehand about recordings, privacy, and room assignment.

You can also share navigation slides detailing:

  • Accessibility options
  • Seeking a facilitator
  • Sending and receiving messages
  • Countdown on the screen
  • Ending the breakouts

Make sure you also tell the participants to read the buttons before selecting, as both Leave the Breakout Room and Leave the Meeting options are available. Also, the participants should note their breakout room name and number and regularly check the countdown timer.

4. Give clear instructions for your meeting plan

Zoom breakout rooms can be an excellent way to organize productive discussions and activities. Therefore, providing clear instructions to participants unfamiliar with the feature is critical.

As a host, you must establish the purpose and outcome of each activity. You can create and circulate a guide map of team building activities so the participants can rehearse.

This step will lead to a healthy environment, as the participants will come prepared to share their diverse points of view.

5. Set up according to your requirements

Before conducting a session, consider the Zoom settings that are appropriate for you. For example, some options to evaluate in a Zoom breakout room are whether you want to assign the rooms manually and whether you want to enable the Join Before Host option.

You can decide in advance whether to allow the members to swap rooms, communicate with other participants, or exchange video and audio within the session. You can also experiment with different breakout room configurations to determine what works best for your group. Allowing participants to self-select into breakout rooms, for example, may result in a more collaborative and engaging experience, while imposing a time limit might help keep topics focused and on track.

6. Provide navigation knowledge to cohosts

In order to run a smooth session of virtual activities, the cohosts need to know how to operate the breakout room session. This know-how includes joining and leaving the breakout room and returning to the main room. Facilitators and speakers both have the option of moving from one room to another. A practice session of hosts and facilitators can be beneficial, as it will bring Zoom’s navigation to their fingertips.

7. Invite attendees to turn on their mic and camera

You can ask participants to turn on their cameras and mics to make sessions interesting and engaging. In order to conduct hassle and confusion-free activities in Zoom breakout rooms, it is important to take turns to speak. All participants simultaneously turning on the mic can be chaotic and unmanageable. Therefore, it is better that all participants already know how to mute and unmute their mics. You can add this instruction to your guide map.

8. Tell about sending messages individually

Cohosts and facilitators should know about Zoom’s chat options in Zoom. The chat box in the breakout room stays within the room. If you send any essential message links, then make sure you send them individually to each room. Otherwise, all participants and cohosts might not be able to get the message.

9. Learn about message broadcasts

To avoid sending a message to each room separately through chats, you can broadcast your message to all the participants in each room to let them know about switching partners or rooms. However, the participants must keep a close eye, as these broadcast messages are quick and short.

10. Enable the multipurpose option of multi-share

Sharing your screen in a group discussion in Zoom can have several functions. You can enable this feature through Advanced Sharing options and have the opportunity to share your screen with other participants and work together.

Apart from business meetings and academic lessons, multi-share is an excellent option for hosting team building activities. You can play many virtual games with the help of the multi-share feature. For example, one popular option is Pictionary.

Attendees can actively participate in online games during Zoom meetings, encouraging team building.

11. Save annotations

Saving annotations on Zoom is easy. The participants can press the Save button at any point on their desktop. Then, Zoom will save the annotation as an image in the Zoom folder.

​Knowing how to share whiteboard screens and annotate notes can help members keep track of discussions. However, the host needs to enable the annotation permission for participants to take notes.

Apart from that, if the participants know how to save and share an annotation, then this function can save time while taking notes. This step also makes it easy for the attendees to organize essential data for future use.

12. Write down the names of recorders

A trick to save time on a Zoom meeting is to assign a participant from each breakout room to take notes and share them with the whole group. These annotators will share the notes when they rejoin the main room after the breakout activity. To get the notes via email, you will need to know the names and email addresses of the recorders. Therefore, taking contact information from the writers is essential to ensure that all participants get the notes on time.

13. Select members randomly

Grouping members manually can be tedious, as every team member has preferences when selecting group partners.

As a host, you can excite the discussions by randomly selecting members with the help of the Randomize button. This setting will also keep cohosts separate because they are usually not part of a group in a Zoom breakout room session. You can manually select the participants you want in your meeting without adding the name of the cohost. Then, click the Automatic button to create an automated room for all the participants. This step will allow the attendees to participate in a random group. The purpose of this randomized button is to save time and make random groups for exciting interactions. Also, you will not add cohosts and facilitators in the breakout room so the participants can have their session without interference.

This selection of groups will stir up out-of-the-box creative ideas and interactions. However, make sure you remember to write the names of generated pairs, as keeping track of multiple sessions can be confusing.

14. Make use of the Waiting Room

A great option while allocating breakout rooms is the Waiting Room. This feature allows participants to interact with each other before they are assigned different breakout rooms.

Another idea is to create one extra breakout room for the cohosts and facilitators. That way, attendees who leave the main room can come back for discussion with other group members without the hosts interfering. You can name the extra room Facilitators or Backstage Room so it is consistent with other breakout rooms.

15. Allow access through different devices

A laptop is not mandatory to attend and interact in a breakout room. Make sure you add a mobile Zoom breakout room navigation guide to your guide map and slides so all participants can talk and participate in an activity.

16. Upload Google Docs

You can share notes and documents during breakout room sessions. You can use Google Docs to make it easy to share content. Using Google Docs saves time by preventing participants from sharing their documents separately and organizing them later. With Google Docs, the participants can get all material in one place and keep their notes organized. Also, multiple attendees can edit a Google Doc at a time. Be sure to change the settings to allow any employee with the link to edit it.

Zoom breakout room tricks

Teachers and office employees can make great use of Zoom breakout rooms. This section discusses Zoom breakout room tips for teachers and meetings.

17. Assign a facilitator

Making the best use of breakout rooms for polishing creative problem-solving skills depends on the instructor. Productive sessions connect students and employees and fulfill the purpose of breakout rooms, which is to enhance communication and coordination during activities. It would help if you assigned a facilitator to each breakout room to ensure the conversation stays relevant and all members participate.

Assigning particular responsibilities to participants is one technique to improve engagement in breakout rooms. For example, you can assign one attendee to be the facilitator, another to take notes, and another to keep track of the time. This strategy will ensure that participants have a clear role in the activity.

18. Choose an interesting topic

To engage participants and prevent them from going into a boredom spiral, the topic of discussion should be interesting. Participants’ curiosity will make the discussions fun and give them a reason to join next time.

Teachers can go for case studies involving mystery solving because puzzles usually excite students.

Office employees can schedule team building activities to have a fun experience together. There are various activities and games coworkers can play. Some examples include websites that offer collaborative games or hosted team building events. The best part is that team building activities are super easy to book online.

19. Ensure clear communication

The set of instructions for tasks and activities should be clear so attendees can come prepared. Posting a document with instructions will help the instructor, attendees, and students clearly articulate their thoughts and opinions.

20. Keep sessions short

The right time range is the key to an engaging and interactive Zoom session. Five- to 15-minute breakout sessions are most effective. Breakout rooms consist of a small number of participants. Hence, allocating one to two minutes per participant is more than enough. Similarly, you can also play virtual games in this time range while keeping a set timer.

You can record the group’s progress with the help of collaborative documents if they compete in an inter-breakout room game.

21. Keep a manageable room size

Smaller groups of two to four are more effective, as they give each attendee more time to participate in the activity. However, a small, socially awkward, or bored group can result in quiet rooms. Creating breakout rooms with the Manual option can help overcome this issue, as the instructor can make rooms with an equal ratio of introverts and extroverts.

22. Allow accessibility

Sorting out all the settings related to the chat box and multi-share options in advance will make the Zoom breakout room experience easy and accessible. Direct link sharing makes it simple for attendees to open the file during ongoing sessions. You can also have breaks between the breakout room and main room sessions to allow participants to summarize their learning and maintain the same pace as others.

23. Play short games

Playing short games is a great tool for employees working from home or dealing with online clients. International students can also practice their public speaking skills before their presentations.

Overcoming camera shyness is one of the best Zoom breakout room tips for meetings. As Zoom breakout rooms cater to a small group of participants, incorporating some icebreaker games can allow the attendees to relax on screen. For example, you can ask participants to share something intriguing about themselves. This game can help form professional relationships and develop a feeling of community within the group.

24. Check group work

There are different ways of evaluating work done in Zoom breakout rooms, including:

  • Asking for activity reports
  • Taking verbal and written feedback
  • Chatting in the main room after the breakout room activity
  • Having a discussion on the whiteboard after a session
  • Using Zoom polls to answer related questions
  • Submitting screenshots of activity in Canvas as proof of participation

Checking group work ensures that all participants are equally participating in the sessions. Discussing the work after the Zoom session will also help members clear up any confusion.


Zoom breakout rooms offer many advantages, allowing attendees from all backgrounds to participate in collaborative activities. Dividing larger groups into smaller groups can help you hold virtual team building activities.

With varying types of Zoom meetings and a plethora of resources, there are several methods and ways to make your Zoom sessions more productive. If you know how to use the features of Zoom, then you can ensure interactive sessions that fit the needs of your members.

​For more ideas on how to make virtual meetings fun, check out our online leadership activities and virtual retreat ideas and games.

FAQ: Zoom breakout room tips

Here are answers to questions about Zoom breakout room tips.

What are Zoom breakout room tips?

Zoom breakout rooms are a feature of the Zoom app that allows meeting attendees to create virtual rooms of small groups to engage in one-on-one discussions and activities. You can use several tips to organize interactive sessions on Zoom. These tips also make it easy for members to participate and use Zoom’s features.

How do you use breakout rooms on Zoom?

You need to host a meeting to use breakout rooms on Zoom. Click on the Breakout Rooms option in the toolbar while in a meeting. Establishing the number of rooms and assigning them to participants is all in your hands.

To avoid the hassle of selecting participants by name, you can also assign the rooms randomly. This step makes the host the facilitator and allows them to join any room for discussion.

Why use Zoom breakout rooms?

Zoom breakout rooms have many features that make it simple to use the platform. For beginners, breakout rooms simplify collaboration and interaction. These rooms make group discussions effective by allowing each attendee to share their viewpoint. Moreover, Zoom breakout rooms help participants improve their problem-solving abilities.

Working on the intricacies of a project can take time and effort with a large group of members on call. In contrast, breakout rooms provide more efficient space to work on creative solutions. In addition, Zoom breakout rooms make managing discussions easier, as they are virtual and time practical.

How can breakout rooms help remote teams interact?

Breakout rooms are great at promoting team interaction. Smaller groups make communicating more straightforward, productive, and inclusive. Small rooms also allow the attendees to work closely, making these meeting places great for healthy team building. Companies can engage employees in icebreakers and team building activities, helping them focus and develop creative solutions.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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