Release of anticipated breakout rooms feature is just around the corner, and should happen during November. There is now more information also on Microsoft 365 admin center for preparing and features included in this release.

Prepare your users and settings

For admins, make sure that you have these settings enabled on Teams meeting policies.

  • Allow Meet now in channels
  • Allow channel meeting scheduling
  • Allow scheduling private meetings
  • Allow Meet now in private meetings

Organizers and participants need to enable new meeting experience on Teams desktop client, which can be done by checking Turn on new meeting experience on Teams settings. After that Teams desktop client needs to be restarted. Also latest Teams client version needs to be used on desktop and mobile.

Breakout room features in this release

Organizer has an important role, because organizer is setting up breakout rooms. Rooms can be managed only on Teams desktop client in this release. Rooms can be created after joining a meeting, so it would be good that organizer can join the meeting beforehand to have time to set rooms for participants. Ability to create rooms before meeting is going to updated a little bit later. Rooms can be created automatically, for example setting up 20 rooms at once, or manually one-by-one. There can be 50 breakout rooms in a meeting.

Create breakout room

Organizer can assign participants to rooms manually or using automatic assignment and re-assign participant to another rooms, when rooms are opened. Transition to room can be automatic or require a participants approval, this is controlled with a meeting-wide setting. Organizer can hop between breakout rooms freely, see all shared content, including chats, files, recordings and whiteboards, and manage room title. Organizers can send announcements to all rooms at once, which will appear on meeting chat.

Microsoft Teams – Breakout Rooms – Manage_Under embargo until Sep. 22 at 8am PT
Manage breakout rooms

Participants are added to rooms as presenters, so they can present content, use Whiteboard and have chat conversations. These are available for room participants and for organizers, and when participants are moved back to main meeting, all created artifacts are available there. Participants cannot change between rooms or get back to main meeting by themselves. Breakout rooms can be joined from web, desktop and mobile clients.

For Organizer

As mentioned, you as an organizer have an important role to setting up rooms, assigning users and facilitating whole meeting. First, familiarize yourself with breakout room features, how to set it up and how things are working during meeting with breakout rooms.

You need to be active, follow-up what is happening on rooms and are things really proceeding as planned. For longer breakout meetings, it might be a good idea to promote a “chairman” for each room to run it smoothly, and have a short preparation together beforehand to get the best results. Have a short introduction to participants about what is going to happen, how they should be working together and what are objectives of the meeting. Use announcements for guide the conversations in breakout rooms and to inform how much time there is left. Hop between rooms and participate to conversations, if needed.

Afterword

Breakout rooms is going to be great and I can’t wait to try it out with my colleagues and customers. Technology is only enabler for getting better results, but like in any meeting facilitating plays an important role for achieving desired results.

Useful links

Microsoft 365 roadmap – Virtual Breakout Rooms

Master virtual breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams meetings – Ignite 2020 session about breakout rooms, includes also future features.