This is how to use Zoom breakout rooms to increase engagement, productivity, and fun

by | Jul 6, 2020 | Business Ideas, Leadership, Managing Teams

My go-to rule for a productive Zoom meeting is to cancel it. If you are simply trying to deliver information, you should send an email. You could even record a video and send it to people to watch in their spare time.

If you’re not going to cancel it, that’s because it’s a conversation. And if there’s more than four people on the call, you can’t have a conversation. Therefore, you have to have breakout rooms.  This is how to use Zoom breakout rooms to increase engagement, productivity, and fun.


I think the breakout room feature in Zoom is brilliant, and I encourage you to consider using it in every meeting.  Breakout rooms let you separate people in a meeting into smaller groups, where they can have their own private conversations, and then come back to the larger meeting later.

When I poll the groups I work with about what they liked best about the meeting, they invariably say breakout rooms. I’m going to share some applications for you to consider.  To learn how to set up and use the breakout room function, go to zoom or YouTube for short instructional videos.  They’re terrific.

So let’s go.

Start each meeting with a quick, fun, get-to-know-ya icebreaker question.  Icebreakers set a positive tone for the meeting and get people connected quickly.  Put people into breakout groups of 2 – 5.  Some questions to ask:

  • How many places have you lived?
  • What was your highlight of the week?
  • What did you struggle with as a child?
  • Share a great book or movie recommendation.

The ideas are endless.

Breakout rooms are also a wonderful way to practice sales and leadership skills, or an upcoming presentation, in a safe and small environment.  Please consider joining the SalesWise Academy if you want your team to practice and improve their skills (oh, was that a plug?).

Another time to use breakout rooms is when your team is wrestling with an issue.  Lots of people are uncomfortable speaking in the larger group, and are ok speaking in the smaller group.

Here are some topics for your team to chew on:

  • How to stay visible when you can’t visit your customers in person.
  • Strategies to grow an existing account into a whale sized account.
  • Sharing customer impact stories to use in your marketing and sales calls.
  • How to develop your next layer of leaders.

Put people into triads and give them enough time to explore an issue, like 15 – 30 minutes.  Ask each triad to write their top 1-2 ideas in the Zoom chat feature, which you can then save as a record.  You will be delighted by the thoughtfulness and practicality of the ideas.  When the whole group is back together, mine for common themes and plan your next steps.

If it’s important enough to have the meeting, it’s important enough to do it well.  Breakout rooms are your ticket.  They increase engagement, participation and the quality of ideas.

You got this.  You can do it.  Bye for now.