Teams Breakout Rooms

What are Breakout Rooms?

Breakout rooms can be created in a meeting to split your participants into smaller groups for brainstorming or discussion; then you can bring them all back to the main meeting when desired.  

 Breakout rooms can only be created and managed by the meeting organizer, who must remain in the meeting throughout the breakout sessions.


Video overviews 

Check out this brief overview of breakout rooms in Teams (around 1 min long). 

Watch the full demo from Microsoft below (starting at 6:09) to see a detailed explanation of how breakout rooms work:


Get Started with Breakout Rooms

The meeting organizer must be using the Teams desktop app to create breakout rooms.  Attendees can participate in breakout rooms from any device using the desktop app, browser, or mobile app. For meeting participants the experience is not much different than a traditional meeting; however the organizer has some additional options which are described below.

Learn how to create, name, and start breakout room sessions by selecting a heading below:

Currently, only the meeting organizer can create and manage breakout rooms in a meeting. Presenters and attendees are unable to do that. If you schedule or initiate the meeting, you must be present for the group to use breakout rooms.

1. Click the Breakout rooms button in the meeting controls.
2. Choose how many rooms you need (up to 50 per meeting), decide whether you’d like to have your meeting participants automatically distributed among the breakout rooms or if you’d like to organize the groups manually, then click Create Rooms.

This is the only menu where you can choose to automatically assign participants to rooms. You will not be able to select this option later unless you recreate the rooms.


3. Once created, the rooms should initially all say Closed next to them; they’re not active until you open them up by starting the breakout rooms.


Rename your breakout rooms

By default, your breakout rooms will be named Room 1, Room 2, etc. You can rename these by clicking the More options(...) menu that appears to the right of each listed room and choosing Rename room. This is recommended to help further identify the group in your list of meeting chats. 


Add a breakout room

If you'd like to add more rooms, click the Add room button in the Breakout rooms pane, then assign or move your participants to the rooms as instructed below. 

Delete a breakout room

Click the More options(...) menu that appears to the right of each listed room and select Delete room. If participants have already been split up, they will be returned to the main room, waiting for reassignment.

Currently, you can only move participants when breakout rooms are closed. The functionality to move participants when rooms are already open will likely be added later. If you need to do another round of breakout rooms with participants in new groups, you will need to recreate the rooms.

If you chose to set up your rooms manually, you will assign your participants by completing the following steps. If you chose the manual assignments, you can make adjustments to the groups using these steps:

  1. Click on the room name to expand the list of room participants in the Breakout room pane.
  2. Click the checkbox next to the person's name.
  3. Click the Assign button.
  4. Select the room you want to move them to.

  • Once your groups are created and you’re ready to move your participants to their rooms, click the Start rooms button to move everyone at once.

    Or you can open them one-by-one by clicking the More options(...) button that appears to the right of each room and selecting Open room.

  • This disperses your participants into their assigned room. It will take about 10 seconds per group to move them to their separate meeting rooms.
  • You will know rooms have successfully opened when their status in the list changes to Open.

 Once attendees join their breakout room, they have all the powers of a presenter in their breakout room, such as sharing their screen.


Manage Breakout rooms

Learn how to manage breakout rooms:

The meeting organizer can broadcast an announcement message to all rooms so everyone is informed of updates, changes, or news during their breakout sessions. This message is labeled "Important" in the breakout room meeting chats, so everyone can see it and can respond to it. They can @mention the organizer to get their attention if required.

To create an announcement:

  1. Click the More options(...) button in the Breakout Rooms pane.
  2. Select Make an announcement.
  3. In the pop-up box, write your announcement then press Send.


 The organizer has access to the chat for each breakout room. So they can also send room-specific "announcements" through the room's meeting chat.

The organizer can access a few additional settings by clicking the More options(...) button in the breakout rooms pane.


Recreate rooms 

Deletes all existing rooms and lets you start over from scratch with the room creation process. It will take you back to the Create Breakout Rooms screen shown here.  

Rooms settings​​​​​​

  • By default, breakout rooms will automatically move your participants to their assigned room when you click Start rooms. If you would like to change this setting, deselect the checkbox for Automatically move people into opened rooms.
  • When the automatic setting is turned off, participants will receive a message asking them to join a breakout room. They will need to select Join room before being moved.

There is a second checkbox here for Let people go back to the main meeting. This check box does not seem to be functional at this time. During testing, participants could move between their breakout room and the main room as needed regardless of whether this box was checked or not. 

Pop into breakout rooms

The meeting organizer can pop in and out of each of the breakout rooms as desired. They can select a room to join by clicking the More options(..) button that appears to the right of the room name and selecting Join room

They can leave and go back to the main room by clicking the Return button in the meeting controls. 


Chat with participants

Each breakout room will have its own chat. The meeting organizer can see and participate in all of them.They will show in the Chat list in Teams, just like regular meetings.

Participants will be added to chat when the breakout room opens and removed when it is closed. Though shared items will still be visible, no new content can be shared after the breakout room is closed.


The meeting organizer can begin recording by joining each room as noted in the "Pop into breakouts" section above. To record a breakout room session, you need to be in the meeting. You can also ask a trusted colleague in your organization to start the breakout room recording on your behalf.

In the meeting controls, click the More options(...) button then click Record. Currently, there is no way to automatically set all breakout rooms to start recording automatically upon opening. 


End Breakout Rooms 

When it's time to end breakout room sessions and bring everyone back to the main meeting room: 

Breakout room participants cannot close their own breakout rooms. 

  • To close breakout rooms one-by-one, click the More options(...) button for each room and select Close room.
  • To close all breakout rooms at once, click the Close rooms button. 

  • It will take about 10 seconds per group to move them back to the main meeting again. 
  • You'll know rooms have successfully closed when their status changes back to Closed and your participants are back in the main meeting.

Closed breakout rooms can be re-opened again to allow the group to continue working on existing content like shared files, whiteboards, or meeting notes.  

You can also delete the existing breakout rooms and create new ones for a fresh experience.

After rooms are deleted or your meeting ends, only the meeting organizer will have continued access to all meeting artifacts through the chat (files, whiteboard, staff notebook, etc.) Participants will only have long-term access to items that were shared in chat and can only add new items when the breakout room is still open. 


Was this helpful?
0 reviews


Article ID: 447
Mon 10/5/20 12:17 PM
Mon 1/11/21 11:18 AM