Pre-assigning Breakout Rooms for a Zoom Meeting


U-M Zoom


  • I am setting up my Zoom Meeting ahead of time, and I want the participants to be assigned to specific breakout rooms that I know now. Can I set these up ahead of time so I don't have to assign them during the meeting?
  • Why did the participants I pre-assigned to breakout rooms not end up where I assigned them?


Pre-assigning breakout rooms is possible, but is very confusing and challenging to get right. Therefore, it is a tool that only advanced Zoom users should attempt. ITS strongly recommends that you avoid pre-assigning breakout rooms whenever possible and instead assign the rooms during the meeting.

You may want to try allowing participants to select which rooms to join. You can share your screen and show a slide with which rooms each participant should go into. This is akin to how splitting students off into groups would work in a physical classroom.

If you MUST pre-assign breakout rooms, here are some tips (these tips assume advanced knowledge of Zoom):

  1. Pre-assign U-M community members using their email address. Do not use email addresses to pre-assign. Make sure that all email addresses are entered in ALL lower case letters. We have seen a mix of upper and lower case letters cause issues with the breakout rooms.
  2. In order for pre-assigning breakout rooms to work, the email address you used to pre-assign someone to a room MUST match the email address they use to join your meeting. Therefore, it is REQUIRED for pre-assigned breakout rooms that you use Registration and/or Only authenticated users may join because these are the only ways to connect a participant to an email address.
    • If using Registration, inform participants of the email you expect them to use to register; for example, if all participants are U-M community members, instruct them to use their email to join
    • If using Registration on a recurring meeting, you must select Attendees need to register for each occurrence to attend
    • If using Only authenticated users may join, encourage U-M community members to join with their U-M Zoom account and provide instructions on joining if they see a message about authorized attendees
  3. Only people with Zoom accounts can be pre-assigned to breakout rooms.
  4. The only way to pre-assign members from a different Zoom account is to use the Upload a CSV option. If using this option, the CSV MUST be uploaded as you are creating the meeting. The CSV may not save if you attempt to add it later.
    • Have someone with a Teacher role in the course download the Canvas or Blackboard grade book to get the list of users to copy/paste in the CSV
  5. Expect some participants to end up in the wrong rooms. Ensure that you as the host are prepared to adjust assignments, or pass the host role to someone else to allow them to adjust the assignments (the host role can be passed back or reclaimed once this is done).
  6. If someone joins the meeting while the breakout rooms are in session, even if the person was pre-assigned, they won't be sent into a breakout room and will be sitting in the main session. To mitigate this, create 1 fewer breakout room than you intend to use, and leave some participants unassigned so that the main session is effectively one of the breakout rooms. That way, someone is there if a person joins late.
  7. Refer to Pre-assigning participants to breakout rooms Zoom Help Center article for in-depth instructions.

Alternative Option: 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. This may be an alternative to pre-assigning breakout rooms if you do not need to closely control the initial set up of the breakout rooms, but would like to preserve them going forward.

  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.

Additional Information

The breakout rooms feature is not available in Zoom Webinars, only Zoom Meetings.
When entering the emails of participants they MUST be in all lower case letters.


Article ID: 3289
Fri 7/31/20 4:53 PM
Tue 3/22/22 3:13 PM