You might love or hate Zoom.
But breakout rooms are one feature that makes a Zoom session actually superior to an in-person lecture....If they're done right!
What you don't want to do is send participants to breakout rooms with minimal connection to why the activity is being done or what they're supposed to talk about.
Here's a 4-step approach for effective breakout sessions that I've observed from expert facilitators and tried out myself:
Spend a minute introducing the activity and how it connects to the overall session. You're answering the question "What's in it for them?" here.
Then, cover the logistics: What are participants supposed to do, and how can they get the most out of this exercise?
Let participants brainstorm and write down ideas on their own for 2-5 minutes. That way, once they enter the breakout room, they already have material to share and discuss.
Need a timer? Search for timers on YouTube and embed the video on a slide.
Now, send participants off to breakout rooms. Aim for 3-4 people per room for 10-15 minutes, so everyone gets the opportunity to share. And nobody will be left alone in case a person has to drop out.
Once everyone is back, ask participants to share their insights in front of the group. You could also ask them to write their takeaways in the chat first and then ask someone to expand on their answer.
That's it! If you're running a 60-min session, you can usually fit 1-2 of these cycles depending on what other material you want to cover.