• Beth Hernandez-Casey

Curate Engagement with Zoom Rooms

If you follow the Meeting Nerd Blog, you already know the golden rule of corporate functions: whether online or in-person, you must include a networking element for your program to be called an event.


In previous posts, I’ve already covered how to show up virtually, how to know if Zoom is the right platform for your event, and how to make your next Zoom zing. Today, let’s take a deeper dive into the key advantage of Zoom engagement: Breakout Rooms.


The basics:


While so much of the workforce is still virtual, you need a few clever tricks up your sleeve to run engaging networking events. That’s where Zoom Breakout Rooms come in.


Breakout Rooms allow you to split your Zoom call into separate sessions. The meeting host can assign rooms manually, randomly, or allow participants to choose their own Breakout Rooms. Regardless of participant settings, the meeting host can switch between sessions at any time.


If you’ve never heard of a Zoom Breakout Room or you don’t know how to use them, you can get a walk-through tutorial here.


Pro tip: If you are a Zoom Basic or Pro user, you will only be able to host up to 100 participants, including yourself, per meeting. If your event will have more attendees than that, you can opt into Zoom’s “Large Meeting” add-on, which will allow up to 500 or 1,000 participants, depending on which license you choose. How to heighten Zoom Room networking engagement:


Be wise with time allotment for Breakouts

People often take quick breaks going into or out of new breakouts to grab water, etc. Transitioning can take a little more time than anticipated as guests turn on their cameras and mics or deal with any unexpected tech issues. Factor in a little time at the beginning of each session for introductions and small talk so people guests can adjust to their new group.


Keep things comfy

The point of utilizing Breakout Rooms is to cultivate human connection, and sometimes meeting new people can be awkward - especially online. Plan out some fun and casual discussion topics your guests can start with while they get used to a more intimate setting.


Mix it up a bit

Whatever the overall goal of your event is, don’t forget Breakout Rooms are one of the few ways your guests will be able to network face-to-face. Consider eliminating facilitators for some sessions. Instead, bring everyone back into the main meeting to give the next discussion topic, then re-send them into new breakout rooms. This way, they get to connect with even more people.


Drop in on the sessions

As the host, you can pop in and of Breakout Rooms to check on how your guests are doing. Don’t forget to be visible, available, and allow your guests to ask questions as they go.


Breakout Activities for Small Groups:


Discussion

After the attendees have been split into their Breakout Rooms, provide them with discussion prompts so they can share ideas about the presentations.


Verbal Brainstorming

To keep a verbal brainstorming activity high-energy, discourage criticism, debate, or discussion. For this exercise, quantity over quality is the name of the game. Encourage them to volunteer as many ideas as possible, as fast as possible, piggyback off of each other’s ideas to maintain a rapid flow.


Round Robin

Provide a discussion prompt posing a problem that needs a solution. Have each participant, one at a time, share an idea about how they might resolve the scenario. After everyone has contributed, have them each go around again and share why their idea might not work. On the third cycle, have them share a revision of their idea and discuss their thought process.


Reflections and takeaways

Wrap up your Breakouts with a session for your attendees to reflect on the event and share their takeaways. This is also the perfect opportunity to provide them with any feedback surveys or evaluation materials you can use to adjust and improve your next virtual event!


Make sure you’re well-prepared for your company’s event. Follow Meeting Nerd on Instagram and LinkedIn for helpful tips, tricks, and other great content!


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