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. 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?


The process of pre-assigning breakout rooms is possible but 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.

*Please Note: Breakout Rooms are not available in U-M Zoom Webinars. Only in regular U-M Zoom meetings.

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):

  • Pre-assign U-M community members using their email address. (Do not use email addresses to pre-assign.) Ensure that all email addresses are entered in lowercase letters. There have been reported issues with breakout rooms when email addresses use a mix of upper and lowercase letters
  • 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, as these are the only ways to connect a participant to an email address
    • If using Registration on a one-off meeting, 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 address 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
  • Only people with Zoom accounts can be pre-assigned to breakout rooms
  • The only way to pre-assign members from a different Zoom instance (i.e., external to and not U-M Zoom) 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

If setting up a meeting for a Canvas course, have someone with a Teacher role in the course download the Canvas grade book to get the list of users to copy/paste into the .CSV

  • 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)
  • 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 one 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
  • Refer to Pre-assigning participants to breakout rooms in the Zoom Help Center 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 (i.e., must be a recurring meeting), you can follow the instructions below. You can 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 setup 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 three-dots icon and then click Save Breakout Rooms
  2. Provide a name for this set of assignments and click Save

Additional Information

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

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


Article ID: 3289
Fri 7/31/20 4:53 PM
Thu 11/30/23 2:57 PM

Related Articles (2)

This article provides instructions for the different methods available for pre-assigning breakout rooms for Zoom meetings in Canvas
This article provides information on creating and managing breakout rooms while in a Zoom meeting.