7 Tips for Running Breakout Rooms and Exercises in the New Zoom-Event Life

We’ve all been Zooming a lot these days, and this phenomenon has come with both benefits and drawbacks. One of the most frustrating aspects of Zoom meetings or retreats is poorly run breakout sessions. We’ve all been there. When you end up in a Zoom room with a group of people who aren’t totally sure what is supposed to be happening, it’s irritating, not to mention a complete waste of time. But this doesn’t have to be the case, with a little planning.

In 2020, we ran numerous workshops and retreats through Zoom. We took on the learning curve, so hopefully you won’t have to! Here are a few tips that made running breakout rooms much easier:

  1. Give clear instructions on what to do when you get to the breakout room.
  2. Slow down when you’re giving instructions so people can take notes and be clear on what they are supposed to do when they arrive in the room.
  3. Tell them who goes first before you send them off to the breakout room. For example, the person with the longest hair, or the person who hasn’t gone first yet starts this round, or the person with the smallest dog goes first. Make it easy and fun.
  4. Send time warnings when it’s time to switch people and let them know how much time they have left for each session.
  5. Frame the breakout rooms as valuable opportunities for participation, and give examples of how to be a good partner in a breakout room. There are always Chatty Kathys and Shy Steves, but they both just need a little nudge. Prompt everyone to have a turn by framing how to be a good participant for the entire group.
  6. Allow for a little extra time when you are doing your planning, as it takes time to get to the breakout rooms and to come back. Even just a couple of extra minutes sure makes it smoother for all involved in administering the event.
  7. Play music when people arrive back in the main room—it keeps the energy nice and high.

Despite all the talk of Zoom fatigue lately, running a Zoom retreat can be extremely fun and people can walk away feeling connected. Knowing how to make the best out of your breakout sessions means your clients walk away happy.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Zoom meetings or retreats is poorly run breakout sessions. We’ve all been there. When you end up in a Zoom room with a group of people who aren’t totally sure what is supposed to be happening, it’s irritating, not to mention a complete waste of time. In 2020, we ran numerous workshops and retreats, all through Zoom. 

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