One of the most anticipated features in Microsoft Teams is finally here! It is a powerful tool in Microsoft Teams that allows meeting organizers to split a group video or audio call into divergent sessions for smaller group discussions. They can assign users to a room, add/remove/rename the rooms. Breakout rooms in teams can only be administered by the meeting organizer and in order to set them up you must join the meeting to see the option.
You can open and close rooms more than once during a session or move participants between rooms. When joining a breakout room the meeting organizer is automatically set to mute. In order to participate in the discussion the organizer need to ‘mute’ and then ‘unmute’ themselves. Breakout rooms can only be created using the Teams client, they cannot be created using Teams web.
Schedule a meeting
- Select Calendar > + New meeting. You must be the meeting organizer in order to create and manage Breakout Rooms.
- Add participants as attendees.
Create Breakout Rooms
- Join your meeting at its scheduled time and wait for your participants to join.
- Your meeting will open in its own window.
- When your participants have joined and you are ready, select Breakout Rooms from your meeting controls.
- Choose how many rooms you’d like to create from the dropdown. Choose whether you’d like Teams to assign participants to rooms Automatically or Manually if you’d prefer to assign participants to rooms yourself.
- Select Create Rooms.
Tip: This is the only time you can choose to assign participants automatically to rooms. You won’t be able to choose this option later.
Assign participants to rooms
If you chose Automatically, participants will already be assigned to different breakout rooms.
To manually add participants to rooms:
- Expand the list under Assign participants.
- Hover over participant names until checkboxes appear. Choose participants by selecting the checkboxes.
- Select More options and choose a room from the list.
- Repeat this process until all participants have been assigned to rooms.
- To view the participants assigned to a Breakout Room, expand the arrow next to the room’s name.
- Name your Breakout Rooms to reflect small participant groups or projects.
- Select More options next to the room, then Rename room.
- Type in the new name and select Rename room.
Start Breakout Rooms
To start rooms individually:
Select More options next to the room, then Open room.
To start rooms all at once:
Select Open rooms.
You’ll know rooms have successfully opened when their status changes to Open.
Join a Breakout Room
To join a room and check on in on its progress:
- Select More options next to the room, then Join room.
- Select Return when you’re ready to leave the Breakout Room and return to the main meeting.
Send an announcement to Breakout Rooms
Once Breakout Rooms have started, send announcements to give time updates or share prompts.
- Select More options > Make an announcement.
- Type in your announcement and then select Send.
- Participants will receive a notification in their meeting chat to check for your announcement
Move participants to different Breakout Rooms individually.
Note: Currently, you can only move participants when Breakout Rooms are closed.
To move participants individually:
- Expand the list of participants under a Breakout Room.
- Hover over a participant’s name and select the checkbox that appears.
- Select More options and then the Breakout Room you’d like to move the participant to.
Chat with participants in a Breakout Room
- Each Breakout Room will have its own chat. You and participants will be able to access it from your chats list and from Chat in the Breakout Room, just like regular meetings.
- Participants will only be added to a Breakout Room chat when you start the room. They will be removed as soon as the room is closed.
- You will have access to all Breakout Room chats.
- Participants can still see the chat history and any files shared after the Breakout Room is closed.
Add or delete a Breakout Room
To add an additional Breakout Room:
- Select Add room. Give your new room a name and confirm.
- Add participants to the room using the instructions above.
To delete a Breakout Room:
Select More options next to the room, then Delete room.
Close Breakout Rooms
To close rooms individually:
Select More options next to the room, then Close room.
To close rooms all at once:
Select Close rooms.
You’ll know rooms have successfully closed when their status changes to Closed. Select Resume when everyone is back from their Breakout Rooms and you’re ready to meet as a larger group again.
Save files, recordings, and notes from Breakout Rooms
Files, recordings and notes from a Breakout Room can be accessed in its chat. You and your participants will be able to access these materials after the room has closed, but participants will not be able to chat or add additional materials.
Edit Breakout Room settings
By default, Breakout Rooms will be set to automatically move participants into opened rooms. If you’d like to change this setting:
- Select More options > Rooms settings.
- De-select the checkbox for Automatically move people into opened rooms.
When the automatic setting is turned off, participants will receive a message asking them to join a Breakout Room. They will need to select Join room before being moved.
Breakout Room Tips
- Have a test run with Breakout Rooms ahead of your meeting to ensure you understand on how everything works.
- It is a good idea to post a PDF of the presentation materials into the Generals file and to suggest that participants download it.
- Attachments are not allowed, but links to files could be included.
- If you plan to communicate with the groups using posts or announcements you can suggest that groups designate one person to keep an eye on the Breakout Room channel chat for announcements.
- The announcement can be composed beforehand ready to send at the right time.
- Immediately after starting the breakout channels, it’s useful if the organizer sends an announcement to everyone which includes the reconvene time.
- 5 minutes before the end of the allotted time, the organizer sends another message to remind groups to return at 00:00 time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can start a breakout room?
- Only the meeting organizer can start breakout rooms.
How can I use breakout rooms?
- The meeting organizer can start a breakout room on the desktop client only.
- Participants can join a breakout room from desktop, web or mobile. Microsoft Teams Rooms do not have breakout room capabilities yet.
- Participants logged in from multiple devices will have all end points join the same breakout room.
I don’t see the ‘Breakout Rooms’ icon?
- You need to be in the meeting to see this icon, use either ‘Meet now‘ or ‘New Meeting‘ to see the option.
Can I create the breakout rooms with Teams on the web?
- Not at the moment, meeting organizers need to use the Teams client to create breakout rooms. This is a future enhancement that Microsoft are working on. Note that participants are able to join with Teams on the web.
What’s coming soon for breakout rooms?
- Pre-configuring breakout rooms.
- Multiple meeting organizers.
- Share meeting content from breakout rooms into main meeting.
- Assign breakout rooms by adding tags.
- Adding external customers/partners.
What can meeting organizers do with breakout rooms?
- Create up to 50 breakout rooms within scheduled or meet now meetings
- Move between breakout rooms freely
- Add, move and delete breakout rooms
- Give breakout rooms titles
- Decide if participants are automatically added to breakout rooms or if the participant needs to confirm
- Reassign participants to different rooms
- Have access to all breakout room artifacts (chat, files, recordings)
How do I make sure I can start using breakout rooms?
- Make sure that the new meeting experience is enabled (Teams -> Settings -> General -> Check “Turn on new meeting experience”)
- Check and make sure you have the latest Teams updates (Update Microsoft Teams – Office Support)
- IT admins can check on how often their tenants get updates, which may impact when their users receive new features like breakout rooms (Set up the Standard or Targeted release options – Microsoft 365 admin | Microsoft Docs)
What can meeting participants do with breakout rooms?
- Join breakout rooms from Teams for browser, desktop and mobile
- Share content (PowerPoint presentations, Whiteboards) in the breakout room
- Chat in the breakout room (this will only be visible to those in the room and the meeting organizer)
- Move freely between breakout rooms and the main meeting.
- Participants must wait until the organizer brings them back to the main meeting or reassigns them to another breakout room. However, they can request that the meeting organizer call them back.
Note – Breakout rooms are not private chat spaces, while only the participants that are assigned to a breakout room can see the conversations and presentations in that breakout room, the meeting organizer can join any breakout room at any time.
I’m an educator, what will my students be able to do?
- Educators will have the option to push students into the breakout rooms and pull them back to the main meeting, without any additional action needed by the student.
- Students can be assigned to breakout rooms, join breakout rooms, use the whiteboard or screen share if allowed to in normal school meetings, re-join the main meeting, and see their breakout room chat.
- Since breakout rooms are Teams meetings, the same security policies and options apply to the breakout room.
- Learn more about using breakout rooms at your school or university here.