Activate and use break rooms in Zoom

Now people have adapted to the new reality where video calling and conferences have become the norm. Apps like Zoom stabilized over the weeks after adding new security and feature measures. An interesting feature that impressed me was the breakout rooms. Part of the reason is that no other video calling app offers this now.

Breakout rooms allow the host to divide a meeting into smaller rooms and assign attendees to each room. Participants in separate virtual rooms hold discussions and chats separately. There is no overlap giving the host much needed sanity. Imagine the marketing, design, and finance teams talking at the same time. You don’t want this.

Break rooms will allow you to invite all participants at the same time, but divide them into different rooms. Keep participants relevant and therefore conversations together. It makes perfect sense. I’m surprised Zoom competitors like Google Meet haven’t posted something similar.

Let’s get to know more about break rooms, how they work and everything else you need to know about it.

Availability by platforms and plans

Break rooms are untapped by default. You will have to manually activate it for use during calls. The function can only be activated in the desktop application. Smartphone users can join the break rooms as it is controlled by the host but cannot create them.

A bit limiting how many people use cell phones to communicate these days. On the plus side, the break rooms feature is available on the free plan, which is generous seeing as how no one else is offering this useful feature.

Enable Breakrooms on Zoom

You must log in to the Zoom website to activate the feature. This is quite strange since only desktop users can create these rooms.

You can create up to 50 break rooms with a limit of 200 participants on each Zoom call, but the number can differ (see screenshot above). I think it should be more than enough for most teams, especially SMBs and startups, where the number of departments is usually below 20-50.

Open the website, login using your ID, social media or SSO and click My Account.

Click Settings > Reunion and then select From the Reunion (Advanced) menu option to find the outage room value.

Once you enable the value, you will see another visible option called ‘Allow host to assign attendees to break rooms when planning’. This will allow you to create break rooms and assign attendees to it even before the meeting starts early. Don’t forget to press the Save button when done.

Use Breakrooms on Zoom

The steps for creating and using Breakrooms in Zoom remain the same for Windows and macOS desktop apps. I’m using Windows for this guide.

Launch the Zoom desktop app and login if you haven’t already. Create a new meeting or schedule one. Both are fine as only the host can create break rooms and no one else. I’m creating a new one.

Click the More button on the right to find the Breakout Rooms option.

You will see a pop-out where you can create rooms and control participants in each room. There are two options below that. With the Automatically option, Zoom will assign the participants you don’t want. So, choose the option Manually to get an option to decide which participants go to the break room. Click Create Rooms when finished. You can always reassign assistants later.

You should see another popup window. Hover over the room name to change the default name, which is Breakout Room 1 and so on. Click the Assign button to assign participants to that room. You will find some options below, such as timing and regression count. Click Add a room when done.

Finally, click Open All Rooms to officially start the meeting. I suggest you try this feature with your friends and family to make sure you get the hang of it. Avoid last minute issues and uncomfortable moments.

Breakroom Facts

There are a few points you need to remember or consider when using the break room feature in Zoom. You already know the room and the limits of the participants. But did you know that when recording a meeting to the cloud, Zoom will only record the main room regardless of which room the host is currently in? Yup, you can’t write the break rooms.

The keyword here is ‘cloud’. This means that if you are recording the Zoom call locally on your system, you will record the room where the host is currently located. The host can choose to allow multiple users to log the call. An example might be allowing one participant in each room to register. Say, the head of the department. Now each room will be written regardless of where the host is located.

The host needs to allow local recording and allow participants to register from the settings for this to happen.

Breaking It Down

Zoom’s Breakout Rooms feature is quite impressive. And it’s just as easy to use. A better way to organize your meetings. Useful when there is an excess of staff from different departments or sectors of life. You should also help with privacy, as you might not want employees to hear what you’ve just discussed with high levels of brass. I hope the competition recovers quickly. Things are heating up in the video conferencing industry.

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