Video Conferencing - Using Zoom Breakout Rooms


Zoom is a versatile video conferencing tool that unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, group messaging, and a software-defined conference room solution into one easy-to-use platform. You can host and join Zoom video conferences from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

The Zoom Help Center has full instructions on using Zoom. The instructions below are specific to Virginia Tech. To see other Zoom topics, please see Video Conferencing - Holding Zoom Conferences on a PC or Mobile Device.

This article details how to utilize breakout rooms in Virginia Tech Zoom.



Breakout Room Features

  • Zoom's Breakout Room feature allows meeting hosts and co-hosts to automatically or manually split Zoom meetings in up to 50 separate Breakout Rooms.
  • Each participant can use audio, video, and screen-sharing in Breakout Rooms.
  • The host can share their screen to all active Breakout Rooms.
  • You can pre-assign participants to breakout rooms via the web portal (, not through the Zoom client or Zoom in Canvas. 
  • Hosts and co-hosts can assign participants to breakout rooms. 

Screen sharing cannot be disabled for breakout rooms, so participants can always turn on their audio and video. To prevent and mitigate interruptions, use breakout room monitors: 

  • Host and co-host monitors can respond to interruptions.
  • Participant monitors can click the Ask for Help (question mark) icon in the breakout room, prompting the host to join the breakout room.

Pre-assign participants to breakout rooms whenever possible and notify hosts and co-hosts of their role in monitoring breakout rooms. 

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Enabling Breakout Rooms

  1. Log into the Virginia Tech Zoom Portal.
  2. Click Settings and go to In Meeting (Advanced)
  3. Enable Breakout room  - Meetings.
  4. Check Allow host to assign participants to breakout rooms when scheduling

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Creating Breakout Rooms

  1. Start an instant or scheduled meeting.
  2. On the bottom menu, click Breakout Rooms.
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  3. Select the number of breakout rooms you would like to create and whether you would like participants to be assigned to rooms Automatically or Manually.
    • For automatically assigned rooms, Zoom will randomly split all participants into even groups.
    • For manually assigning participants to rooms, continue following these instructions.
  4. Click Create Rooms. Your Breakout Rooms will be created, but they will not start yet.
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  5. To manually assign participants rooms (only if you didn't assign participants automatically):
    1. Click Assign next to the room you want to assign participants to, and check the box next to each participant you want in that room.
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    2. Repeat this procedure for each room.
    3. Once a participant has been assigned to a room, the total number of participants will show instead of the Assign button.
    4. Unassigned participants will stay in the main meeting.

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Pre-assigning Breakout Rooms

  1. Log into the Virginia Tech Zoom Portal.
  2. Click Meetings. Your Zoom meetings, including the ones you scheduled in Canvas, will be listed. 
  3. Hover over the meeting listing and click Edit.
    1. If you have a recurring meeting and want to use the same breakout rooms and assignments, click Edit for all occurrences.
  4. Go to Creating Rooms Manually or Importing Room Assignments from CSV.

Creating Rooms Manually

  1. Click +Create Rooms
  2. In the Breakout Room Assignment popup, click [+] next to Rooms for each room you want to create. 
  3. Click on each room name to rename it. 
  4. To add participants, type in participant names in the Add participants box. Be sure to spell their names correctly. 
  5. Click Save.
  6. Back in Meeting Settings click Save

Importing Room Assignments From CSV

  1. Click Import form CSV. 
  2. Click download to download a CSV template. 
  3. Open the CSV file and note the formatting. 
    1. In column A, Pre-assign Room Name, enter the breakout room name. 
    2. In column B, Email Address, enter the person's Virginia Tech email address. 
    3. Make sure every person is assigned a breakout room in column A.
    4. Make sure the breakout room names are spelled the same way for the same room. 
    5. Make sure email addresses are spelled correctly. 
  4. Save as CSV. 
  5. Go back to the Zoom Import from CSV window and drag and drop your CSV file. 
  6. Inspect and edit the breakout rooms. 
  7. Click Save.
  8. Back in Meeting Settings click Save

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Managing Breakout Rooms

Editing Breakout Rooms Before the Breakout Session

Hosts and co-hosts can manage breakout rooms by clicking on Breakout Rooms during a Zoom meeting.

  • Move to allows you to select a room to move a participant to.
  • Exchange allows you to select a participant and swap them with a participant in a different room.
  • Delete Room allows you to delete the selected room.
  • Recreate allows you place the rooms already made with a new set.
  • Add Room allows you to add a new room.
  • Options allows you to set the parameters of the breakout session.
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Starting Breakout Sessions

Click Open All Rooms. This will begin the breakout sessions.Image of the above instructions

  • All participants will be moved to their respective rooms after they confirm the prompt to join.
  • The host will be left in the main meeting until manually joining one of the breakout rooms.
  • If a participant has not joined the session yet, it will say (not joined) next to their name.
Managing Ongoing Breakout Sessions
  • Join allows you to join the selected breakout room.
  • Leave allows you to leave the room and return to the main meeting.
  • Broadcast a message to all -> Broadcast lets the host send a message to all rooms.
Managing Pre-assigned Breakout Rooms
  • Click Breakout Rooms to see the pre-assigned rooms.
  • Students who joined before the host will be assigned to their rooms. 
  • To assign students who joined after the host, click Recreate then Recover to pre-assigned rooms. 
  • To empty all breakout rooms, click Recreate then Recreate all rooms
Stopping Breakout Sessions

Click Close All Rooms to stop the breakout sessions. A 60-second countdown is broadcasted to the host and participants. All participants will be redirected to the main meeting when the countdown is over.

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Screen Sharing to All Active Breakout Rooms

To share your screen to all active Breakout Rooms, select Share Screen and the image or item you want to share and then select Share to breakout rooms at the bottom of the window before selecting Share.

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If you are already screen sharing when you enable the breakout rooms, navigate to the More option on the screen sharing controls and select "Share to Breakout Rooms". You won't see this option in the menu if you aren't sharing your screen.

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Joining a Breakout Room

  1. Once the meeting host invites you to join a breakout room, click Join.
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  2. If you choose to join the breakout session later, you can join by clicking Breakout Rooms on the bottom menu bar in your meeting, then Join Breakout Room.

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Participating in a Breakout Room

Once you have joined a breakout room, you can click:

  • Mute/Unmute - to control your microphone.
  • Start/Stop Video - to control your camera.
  • Participants - to view the list of participants in your room.
  • Share Screen - to share your screen.
  • Chat - to type messages to the other participants in your room.
  • Record - to record the session if the host gives you recording permission.
  • Ask for Help - to request help from the meeting host.

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Asking for Help

Asking for help will ask the meeting host and co-hosts to join your breakout room.

  1. From a Breakout Room's bottom menu, click Ask for Help.
  2. Confirm that you would like assistance by clicking Invite Host.
  3. The meeting host will be prompted to join that room by clicking Join Breakout Room.

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Leaving a Breakout Room

You can leave a breakout room and return to the main meeting at any time. You can also leave the meeting entirely from your breakout room.

When the host ends the breakout rooms manually, you will be notified and given the option to return to the main meeting immediately or in 60 seconds.

  1. In the right corner of the bottom menu, click Leave Breakout Room.
  2. Choose if you want to leave the breakout room or the entire meeting by clicking Return to Main Session or Leave Meeting.

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Getting Help

For instructions on resolving common issues with Zoom, see: Video Conferencing - Troubleshooting Zoom.

For problems logging into Zoom, contact Virginia Tech 4Help:
  • Go to 4Help, log in with your Virginia Tech Username (PID) and password, and click Get Help.
  • Call 540-231-4357.

For problems using Zoom, contact Zoom Support:

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