Managing Breakout Rooms in a Zoom Meeting


U-M Zoom


How to Manage Breakout Rooms in a Zoom Meeting


Breakout rooms allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 100 separate sessions. The meeting host or co-host (as of at least v 5.4.5) can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually, and can switch between sessions at any time.

  • Up to 100 breakout rooms can be created
  • Participant limit is equal to the number of participants in the meeting
  • Breakout room participants have full audio, video, and screen share capabilities (if "all participants" is enabled for screen sharing by the host)
  • While in your meeting, set up the Breakout Room in the following way:
    • Security > Allow participants to screen share 
    • Screen share Advanced Options > Toggle All Participants

Creating Breakout Rooms

Note: You can also pre-assign participants to breakout rooms when you schedule the meeting instead of managing them during the meeting. See Pre-Assigning Breakout Rooms for a Zoom Meeting.

  1. Start an instant or scheduled meeting
  2. Click Breakout Rooms
  3. Select the number of rooms you would like to create, and how you would like to assign your participants to those rooms:
    • Automatically: Let Zoom split your participants up evenly into each of the rooms
    • Manually: Choose which participants you would like in each room
    • Let participants choose room: Participants can select and enter rooms on their own
  4. Click Create Breakout Rooms
  5. Choose the settings you prefer

Your rooms will be created, but will not start automatically. You can manage the rooms prior to starting them by following the instructions below.

Options for Breakout Rooms

  1. After creating the breakout rooms, click Options to view additional Breakout Rooms options
  2. Check any options that you would like to use for your breakout rooms
    • Move all participants into breakout rooms automatically: Checking this option will move all participants into the breakout rooms automatically. If this option is unchecked, the participants will need to click Join to be added to the breakout room.
    • Allow participants to return to the main session at any time: If this option is checked, the participants can move back to the main session from their meeting controls. If this is disabled, they need to wait for the host or co-host to end the breakout rooms.
    • Breakout rooms close automatically after x minutes: If this option is checked, the breakout rooms will automatically end after the configured time.
    • Notify me when the time is up: If this option is checked, the host will be notified when the breakout room time is up.
    • Countdown after closing breakout rooms: If this option is checked, the participants will be given a countdown of how much time they have left before being returned to the main room.
  3. Follow the steps below to assign participants to rooms or click Open All Rooms to start the breakout rooms

Assigning participants to rooms

To assign participants to your rooms, select Assign next to the room you wish to assign participants to and select participants you want to assign to that room. Repeat this for each room.

Once a participant has been assigned (manually or automatically), the number of participants will show in place of the Assign button.

Note: In versions 5.10 or later of the Zoom client, you may also include co-hosts in the room assignments if assigning automatically.

Preparing Breakout Rooms

After manually or automatically assigning participants to rooms, you can rearrange the participants. Participants who are not assigned to breakout sessions will remain in the main meeting when the rooms are started.

  • Move to (participant): Select a room to move the participant to.
  • Exchange (participant): Select a participant in another room to swap the selected participant with.
  • Delete Room: Delete the selected room
  • Recreate: Deletes existing breakout rooms and creates new ones
  • Add a Room: Add another breakout room
  • Open All Rooms: Start the rooms. All participants will be moved to their respective rooms after confirming the prompt to join the breakout room. The host will be left in the main meeting until manually joining one of the rooms. The participants (and the host when manually joining a room) will see a message that they are joining the breakout room

Managing Breakout Rooms in progress

Once the Breakout Rooms have been started, the participants will be asked to join the Breakout Session. The host will stay in the main meeting until joining a session manually. If a participant has not joined the session yet, it will be noted by (not joined) next to their name.

  • Join: Join the breakout room.
  • Leave: Leave the room and return to the main meeting (only shows when in a breakout room).
  • Close All Rooms: Stops all rooms after a 60 second countdown, shown to the host and participants, and returns all participants back to the main meeting.

Ask for help

Participants in breakout rooms can request that the meeting host join their meeting by clicking Ask for Help in the bottom menu bar.
Menu bar with Join Audio on left, then Participants, Share Screen, Chat, Record, Ask for Help, and Leave Breakout Room. Ask for Help is highlighted.

The host will be prompted to join the room where the request originated from. Click Join Breakout Room to join the room.

Broadcasting a message to all Breakout Rooms

The host and co-host can broadcast a message to all breakout rooms to share information with all participants.

  1. Click Breakout Rooms in the meeting controls
  2. Click Broadcast a message to all, enter your message and click Broadcast
  3. The message will now appear for all participants in Breakout Rooms

Please Note: The message will go out to all Breakout Rooms and stay up for about 10 seconds before disappearing.

Recording while in a breakout room

Please Note: If the meeting is being cloud recorded, it will only record the main room, regardless of what room the meeting host is in. If local recording is being used, it will record the room the participant who is recording is in. Multiple participants can record locally. The Host Recording will follow the host, it will not record all Breakout Rooms simultaneously. 

  1. Ask the host for permission to record. The host needs to allow recording before opening the breakout rooms. If the host has already opened the breakout rooms, they can join your breakout room to allow you to record.
  2. Click Record in the meeting controls to start a local recording
  3. The host will need to invite you to join the breakout room
  4. Click the pause or stop icon in the meeting controls to pause or stop the recording
    The recording can also be stopped or paused by clicking the indicator in the top left corner

Saving Breakout Room Configuration

Note: The following feature is only available with version 5.10 or higher of the Zoom client.

To save breakout room assignments that were done automatically or manually for use in a future meeting in this series (must be a recurring meeting), you can follow the instructions below.  You are able to store up to 10 assignment configurations.

  1. After breakout rooms have been assigned, but are not currently open, click the ... button and then click "Save Breakout Rooms."
  2. Provide a name for this set of assignments. 
  3. Click Save.

Chat and Breakout Rooms

If the meeting host has chat enabled in the meeting:

(Note that chat is on by default and only changed in your Settings at at

While in Breakout Rooms, chat is only available to others in the same breakout room. You will not be able to chat someone else in a different breakout room, or the Meeting Host. (But you can use the Ask for Help option to contact the Meeting Host. The Host can also send out a Broadcast Message to everyone in the Breakout Rooms.) Once everyone is back in the main Zoom Meeting and out of the Breakout Rooms, Chat will return to it's normal behavior.

Additional Information

A great blog post about this at:

Need additional information or assistance? Contact the ITS Service Center.


Article ID: 1050
Mon 4/20/20 8:37 AM
Thu 7/14/22 10:01 PM