Skip to main content

How to use Breakout Rooms in Zoom

Breakout rooms allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions. The meeting host can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually, and can switch between sessions at any time.

This guide provides a comprehensive guide to setting up breakout rooms in your Zoom meeting. Click on the bullet points below to jump to a section, or scroll to view the entire guide.


Updated March 2020
Click here for a printable version

An overview of Breakout Rooms

  • Breakout rooms have the same screen sharing, video, and audio chat capability as the main Zoom session.
  • Breakout rooms can be used to send participants into small group rooms. Their time in the breakouts can be limited (e.g., five minutes to discuss a specific question), or they can be given indefinite time in the breakout.
  • While in a breakout room, users cannot hear audio from the main Zoom session. If the Host wishes to communicate to everyone at once, they can “Broadcast” a text-based message to all participants.
  • The Host can choose to wait in the main session while participants work, or they can enter and leave the breakouts to provide guidance or listen to what’s happening.
  • Participants in breakouts who would like help from the Host can “Ask for Help” to request that the Host join their breakout.
  • The Host can move participants between breakout rooms while they are in rooms to mix up the discussion.
  • The Host can end the breakout rooms, bringing all participants back to the main Zoom meeting. They can then send participants back to the same breakout groups or create new breakout groups.


Pre-Assign Breakout Rooms before a Meeting

  1. If it does not already exist, create your meeting or recurring meeting in Brightspace using the Zoom tool.
  2. Access and sign in with your VUnetID and e-password.
  3. Navigate to Meetings in the left navigation and click the topic of the meeting you wish to edit. Select Edit this Meeting near the bottom of the page.
  4. To pre-assign the same breakout rooms for all sessions of a recurring meeting, select All in the Edit Meeting dialog. If you only wish to pre-assign breakouts for one meeting, select Only this meeting.
  5. Near the bottom of the page, check the box for Breakout Room pre-assign. You are provided options to Create Rooms or Import from CSV.


Create Breakout Rooms (Basic)
  1. Click Create Rooms in the meeting settings.
  2. Create rooms by clicking the plus sign (+) in the Breakout Room Assignment dialog.
  3. Add participants to the room by Vanderbilt email address (available in the Brightspace classlist).
  4. Click Save in the Breakout Room Assignment dialog box.
  5. Click Save in the meeting settings.
Import CSV to Pre-Assign Breakout Rooms (Advanced)
  1. Click Import from CSV in the meeting settings.
  2. If this is your first time using pre-assignment by CSV, click to download the template.
  3. Navigate away from your browser and open the template in Excel.
  4. Add room names and participant email addresses to the template. You can change the room names to something meaningful for your course (group numbers, group names, etc.) or keep the default room names. Note: You can download a CSV file of your course enrollments from the Online Grading > Class Roll module in YES.|
  5. Save As a new file in an easy to find location on your computer. Be sure to save in .csv format even if Excel warns against it.
  6. Upload the list in the Import Rooms and Participants from CSV File dialog.
  7. Click Save in the dialog box.
  8. Click Save in the meeting settings.


Create a Breakout Room during a meeting

  1. Click Breakout Room from bottom menu bar.
  2. Choose to create rooms automatically or manually.
  3. Click Create Room.

Controlling Breakout Rooms during a meeting

Communicate with Everyone in Breakout Rooms:

  1. Click Broadcast a message to all.
  2. Type desired message and click Broadcast.


Send participants back to Breakout Rooms
  1. Click Open All Rooms or…
  2. Click Recreate to design new breakout rooms.


Move participants between Breakout Rooms
  1. Hover over a user’s name in the breakout list.
  2. Select a room to move the participant to.