How to Enable and Use Breakout Rooms in Zoom

People have now adapted to the new reality where video calling and conferencing has become the norm. Apps like Zoom have stabilized weeks after adding new security measures and features. An interesting feature that caught my attention was the breakout rooms. One reason is that no other video calling app currently offers this.

Breakout rooms allow the host to split the meeting into smaller rooms and assign participants to each room. Participants in separate virtual rooms keep discussions and conversations separate. There is no overlap that gives the home owner the much-needed sanity. Imagine the marketing, design and finance teams talking at the same time. You don’t want this.

Breakout rooms allow you to invite all attendees at once, but divide them into separate rooms. Keep relevant participants and therefore conversations together. It’s very logical. I’m surprised why Zoom competitors like Google Meet haven’t posted anything similar.

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

Availability by Platforms and Plans

Breakout rooms are closed by default. You will have to manually turn it on to use it during calls. This feature can only be enabled in the desktop app. Smartphone users can join breakout rooms but cannot create them, as they are controlled by the host.

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It’s a bit limiting to see so many people using their cell phones to communicate these days. On the plus side, breakout rooms feature is available in the free plan which is generous to see how no one else offers this useful feature.

Enable Breakout Rooms on Zoom

You must be signed in to the Zoom site on the web to activate the feature. It is rather strange that only desktop users can create these rooms.

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You can create up to 50 breakout rooms with a limit of 200 participants per Zoom call, but the number may be different (see screenshot above). I believe that it will be more than enough for most teams, especially SMEs and startups, where the number of departments is usually under 20-50.

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Open the site, sign in using your ID, social media or SSO and click My Account.

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To find the breakout room setting, click Settings > Meeting and then select the In Meeting (Advanced) menu option.

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Once you enable the setting, you will see another option appear called ‘Allow host to assign attendees to breakout rooms during scheduling’. This allows you to create breakout rooms and assign participants to the same rooms before the meeting even starts. Don’t forget to hit the Save button when you’re done.

Use Breakout Rooms in Zoom

The steps for creating and using breakout rooms in Zoom remain the same for both Windows and macOS desktop apps. I am using Windows for this guide.

Launch Zoom’s desktop app and sign in if you haven’t already. Either create a new meeting or schedule one. Both are fine because only the host can create breakout rooms and no one else. I’m creating a new one.

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

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In each breakout room you will see a popup window where you can create rooms and control attendees. Below that, there are two options. With the automatic option, Zoom will assign the participants you do not want. Therefore, select Manual to get the option to decide which attendees go to which breakout room. Click Create Rooms when you’re done. You can reassign attendees at any time later.

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You should see another popup. Hover over the room name to change the default name, Breakout Room 1 and so on. Click the Assign button to assign attendees to that room. Below you will find some options such as timing and countdown. Click Add Room when you’re done.

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Finally, click Open All Rooms to officially start the meeting. I recommend testing this feature with your friends and family members to make sure you’re used to it. Avoid last minute mixing and awkward moments.

Breakout Rooms Facts

There are a few things to remember or keep in mind when using the breakout room feature in Zoom. You already know the room and participant limits. However, 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? Yes, breakout rooms cannot be recorded.

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The keyword here is ‘cloud’. This means that if you are recording the Zoom call locally on your computer, the host will record the room they are currently in. The host can choose to allow multiple users to record the call. An example would be to allow one participant per room to record. Let’s say the head of the department. Now every room will be saved regardless of where the host is.

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For this to happen, the host must allow local recording and allow attendees to record from settings.


Zoom’s Breakout Rooms feature is pretty awesome. And it’s equally easy to use. A better way to organize your meetings. It is useful when there is a lot of staff from different departments or living areas. It should also help with privacy, as you might not want employees to hear that you just spoke with the senior official. I expect the competition to catch up quickly. Things are heating up in the video conferencing industry.

Next: Have you recorded a Zoom meeting but need to edit it? Click below to learn how to do this on both Windows and macOS.

Moyens Staff
Moyens I/O Staff has motivated you, giving you tips on technology, personal development, lifestyle and strategies that will help you.