We talked about everything else but…tips for running online breakout rooms

We talked about everything else but…

Is a common retort following a Zoom breakout room drill. You did everything right. You set up an exercise and made it crystal clear what they needed to do and gave them plenty of time. When they returned from the activity, you began your feedback session.

“Sorry Paul, we didn’t have enough time, we were busy chatting for the first few minutes.”

And you can’t blame them.

Don’t fight the problem, work with it and here are some tips for doing so:

  • When setting a group activity using breakouts, place it around coffee time and suggest they enjoy their coffee break for ten minutes in addition to the fifteen allowed for the exercise. That way, they’ll do the social thing before the activity.
  • Appoint a “grown-up” to manage the group. Make this fun. Any Librans or those with size 9 feet or people born in the winter should lead the group.
  • Before the exercise, send them off for 5 minutes for a general introduction and “say hi” to each other before the real activity starts. Bring them back in the room to share a funny story about one person before sending them off again.
  • Keep to the same groupings for each activity, so they grow comfortable with their team members.
  • Encourage them to photo the instructions with their phone to remind them what to do, in case they forget, and they do.
  • Don’t use a breakout room until people know each other well.
  • Don’t use breakout rooms, just run a good old fashioned group discussion with your cohort, which you’ve kept to a manageable number, ideally around 10. Prevent the client adding people just because they think it’s a webinar and Zoom allows up to 100 people.