One of the most anticipated features in Microsoft Teams was finally launched in December: Breakout Rooms.
Breakout Rooms was one of the highest-voted feature requests ever for Microsoft Teams. Microsoft pays close attention to this site when determining which features to prioritise. So what is Breakout Rooms and what is all the fuss about?
Team Breakout Rooms is a way to separate the participants of a meeting into mini-meetings, on either an adhoc basis or by organising them in advance. They’re especially useful in corporate events, board meetings with committee breakouts, running workshops and for brainstorming sessions.
Up to 50 Breakout Rooms can be created from a single meeting. Moreover, the meeting’s organisers or hosts can move between breakout rooms and send messages to all participants to keep control over proceedings.
Breakout Rooms is a fantastic feature in Microsoft Teams that can really transform participant engagement within a meeting. Whilst we don’t suggest you try and use it as a standard feature in all meetings, for the right type of session and with the right audience, it can be incredibly useful. The meeting organiser is responsible for setting up and managing the structure of the breakout meetings rooms and deciding how breakout sessions are going to run.
The meeting organiser is responsible for managing the setup of the Breakout Rooms and assigning participants in to each room. Breakout Rooms cannot be set up before a meeting and must be created only once the meeting has started. But the good news is, it’s really straight forward to do.
Only the organiser can schedule this. The meeting attendees, including presenters will not see the Breakout Rooms option. At time of writing, it is also not possible to transfer or share organiser capabilities, although we hope to see this feature introduced at a later date.
So let’s cover some of the bigger features built into Breakout Rooms.
Breakout Rooms are available if you join a private scheduled meeting (including recurring), or a private meet now meeting from a Teams desktop client. The Breakout Rooms icon is located on the meeting menu between the raise hand control and the ellipsis that reveals additional actions.
Attendees are able to join the meeting from Teams on desktop, mobile, or the web. While in a breakout room, meeting attendees are given the presenter role, meaning they’re able to share their video, audio, screen and files just as they would a normal meeting. They also have access to a whiteboard in each breakout room, a particularly useful tool for this type of meeting. Each room can also be recorded, again a very useful feature for this type of meeting so the organiser can review each sub meeting and teams can review each other’s meetings.
Once Breakout Rooms are active, the organiser continues to be able to actively manage things, move between rooms and communicate with everyone across all breakout rooms. The ability to make the sessions so interactive is one of the great things about Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms.
Joining Breakout Rooms
Select ‘Add room’ to create another Breakout Room at any time. Note that participants from open rooms cannot be moved to a different room until their current room is closed.
Close Breakout Rooms
Ending the meeting
At the end of the meeting, you can either leave your Breakout Rooms open or closed.
If you can’t access breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams, this could be down to a number of issues. Here are a couple of suggestions, but if you’re still having trouble, please feel free to reach out to us and let’s see if we can help.
The most obvious one is that you need to enable the ‘new meetings experience’ in settings. This can be accessed by clicking on your profile photo in Teams, and choosing Settings. You may need to restart Teams for the new experience to take effect.
If Breakout Rooms still don’t work, your administrator may need to enable the settings that let them work.
So Is Breakout Rooms good?
Our take on Breakout Rooms is that it isn’t hype, it’s a really good addition to Microsoft Teams, but only for very specific types of meetings. It will naturally help with large group meetings and get more people engaged, rather than remaining as listeners only, and in meetings where break away sessions are helpful. It’s very straight forward to use and offers suitable level of functionality and features including moderator control. There are some gaps that have been highlighted, but we’re confident that they shall be addressed and that Breakout Rooms will evolve and improve.
So if you’re not yet aware of Breakout Rooms, do look in to it and see how it can benefit some of your meetings.
Formation Tech are experts in Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, and we’ve helped major public, private and third sector organisations engage their workforce with these fantastic tools and applications. Now more than ever, ensuring high user adoption of Microsoft Teams is vital. We can help you achieve that goal.
We help businesses work smarter, more safely and securely, from anywhere. And if you need help on where to begin,feel free to get in touch, so we can chat through the solutions and introduce the team.