Getting the best out of online breakout rooms…

While online meetings provide a convenient way to connect with colleagues and clients, they can also be challenging in terms of engagement and retention. In this blog post, we will explore specifically how to improve engagement in online meetings through the effective use of breakout rooms.  

One of the significant challenges of online meetings is keeping participants engaged and attentive. It can be easy to lose focus when attending a meeting remotely, especially if you are working in a distracting environment. However, there is a technique that can significantly improve online meeting retention and engagement: breakout rooms.

Breakout rooms are a feature available in many online meeting platforms that allow participants to split into smaller groups for discussions. Breakout rooms can be used for brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, or team-building activities. By splitting participants into smaller groups, it creates a more intimate and engaging environment, encouraging more active participation and fostering collaboration.

To make the most of breakout rooms, it is essential to set clear objectives and guidelines for the discussion. Ensure that each group has a specific task to accomplish or a particular topic to discuss. Assign a moderator to each group to keep the discussion on track and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.

From our experience, here are some good principles for running breakouts.  

  1. Clear Instructions: Provide clear and concise instructions on what participants should do in the breakout room. Make sure they understand the goal and outcome of the activity.
  2. Time Bound: Set a specific time limit for the breakout room activity. This helps to keep participants focused and gives them a sense of urgency.
  3. Small Groups: Keep the groups small, ideally no more than 4-5 participants, to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
  4. Icebreakers: Start the breakout room activity with an icebreaker or warm-up question to help participants get to know each other better.
  5. Variety of Activities: Use a variety of activities such as brainstorming, problem-solving, or role-playing to keep the activity interesting and engaging.
  6. Visuals: Use visuals such as slides or videos to support the activity and keep participants engaged.
  7. Feedback: Provide feedback on the breakout room activity, highlighting key insights and ideas generated by participants.
  8. Rotate Groups: If possible, rotate participants through different breakout room groups to allow for new perspectives and to keep the activity fresh.
  9. Follow-up: Follow up with participants after the breakout room activity to reinforce key learnings and ensure they understand how the activity relates to the overall meeting objective.