Breakout Rooms are quite in demand in the video conferencing ecosystem. Using breakout rooms, people can mimic the real-life scenarios of breaking into smaller groups during an online meeting or lecture and reconvene after brainstorming sessions or group discussions have come to a halt.
Unfortunately, Microsoft Teams officially does not have ‘Breakout Rooms’ as an inherent function in their app yet, but they are actively working to bring it. Meanwhile, don’t be disheartened, if you want to use Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams right now, you can. You will just need to do it manually with this workaround, but hey! It’s so simple and quick that I bet you won’t even notice or mind the extra steps. So, let’s get rolling.
How to Create Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams has a unique element – Team Channels – that makes it ridiculously easy to create Breakout Rooms without having to toil much. Open Microsoft Teams, and go to the team with whose members you want to have breakout room meeting sessions.
Now, click on the ‘More options’ icon to the right of the team name, and select ‘Add Channel’ from the menu.
Name the channel ‘1st Breakout Room’ and click on ‘Add’. Repeat the steps to create as many channels as the number of breakout rooms required.
Now, whenever you join your main meeting, the basic structure you’ll need for creating different breakout room meeting sessions will already be in place.
How to Join Breakout Rooms
Join the main meeting as you normally would. Instruct your students or colleagues about the purpose of breakout rooms and which room each person has to join.
To join a breakout room during an ongoing meeting, click on ‘Teams’ on the left navigation bar.
The main meeting will appear in a minimized window on the left. Go to the breakout room (channel) you’re supposed to join – say, 1st Breakout Room.
Click on the ‘Meet’ button towards the top right corner of the channel. Or, the ‘Meet now’ button beneath the new post textbox for old versions of the desktop client.
A preview screen for the meeting will open, click on ‘Meet now’ and you’ll enter the “Breakout Room”.
The main meeting that you were attending prior to joining the Breakout Room will be put on hold. It will appear as a small window on the left side of your screen. You can go back whenever you want by clicking on the ‘Resume’ button on the meeting window.
If you’re the meeting moderator and have to go back and forth between separate breakout rooms, that is easy too. In Microsoft Teams, you can keep multiple meetings on hold in Microsoft Teams at any given time. So when you join the 2nd Breakout Room, the main meeting and the meeting in the 1st breakout room will be on hold, ready to be joined in a single click.
To end a meeting in any of the Breakout rooms or the main meeting that is on hold, simply click the ‘End’ button from the minimized meeting window, i.e., you don’t even have to go back to it.
You can create as many breakout rooms as you like and manage them easily in a Microsoft Teams meeting even without the built-in feature.
Microsoft Teams might not have the feature to create Breakout Rooms yet, but don’t let that discourage you. With this simple hack, it’s a piece of cake to create Breakout Rooms. So whether it is a group assignment for your class or a brainstorming session with your office colleagues, you’ve got it.