Did you know the most productive meetings have fewer than eight people? The experts suggest that, “Smaller groups… help build a sense of intimacy that opens the floor to a meaningful and candid discussion. Fewer people means more time to listen to and consider the perspective of each team member.”

Creating a smaller meeting space within a larger online environment is exactly the idea behind virtual breakout rooms. These are spaces within the space of a big meeting, and they are vital to engagement. Harvard Business Review says they are a space where, “Clarity and candor emerge. Alignment follows.”

This article looks at virtual breakout rooms and why your organization should harness these tools for more effective meetings.

What is a Virtual Breakout Room?

A virtual breakout room is an offshoot from a main online meeting where a smaller group of participants can gather. They are a quieter, private place within the virtual meeting environment that allows participants to participate in small group interactions. This privacy can be used quite successfully to handle delicate topics, establish specific workgroups, or create key learning or bonding moments within a small team.

A virtual breakout room can be used for separate presentations, workshops, idea sharing, or anything else you can come up with. The benefits of the virtual breakout room are the same as for online meetings generally; they allow the remote workers or participants in your meeting to engage from wherever they may be at the time. But the virtual breakout room is a much smaller meeting environment and can be used quite successfully to engage even the more put-off or difficult participants in an event.

Most video conferencing platforms offer these types of sidebars. Participants can simply follow the same click-in procedures they followed when they logged into the virtual meeting. You can elect to let them directly into the breakout or have a virtual waiting room where participants hang out until you give them access. Either way, the data tells us the virtual breakout room is an important tool for event organizers to facilitate tighter bonds between meeting participants.

EdTech says, “Small group learning is absolutely essential today. In a virtual classroom, the instruction typically does most of the talking when leading a synchronous lesson. Students may find it more difficult to participate or think out loud in this environment. But with breakout rooms, educators can improve student engagement, differentiate instruction and give students more voice and choices in their learning outside of a traditional classroom.”

Insert the word “participant” or “team member” for the word “student,” and you can apply this insight to any corporate meeting. The reality is that the virtual breakout room can increase engagement in your target audience no matter how you use the technology. What are some of the ways you can use virtual breakout rooms to your advantage?

How Can You Use Virtual Breakout Rooms?

There are many ways to use virtual breakout rooms in your meetings. For example, there are:

·         Networking virtual breakout rooms that encourage meeting attendees to exchange contact information and interact with each other. You can use these at educational seminars, or during large orientations for new hires when the “class” is large.

·         Campfire gatherings where stories, ideas, and best practices are shared between participants. These virtual gatherings are great during big departmental meetings to bring smaller teams together to share their success stories or solve problems.

·         Conference or workshop breakout rooms for a more intimate hands-on learning experience. These are great to break-up a long meeting while increasing participant engagement.

·         A virtual classroom breakout room can help improve student engagement in online learning. Some video conferencing solutions offer whiteboarding, chat, screen sharing, and more, to make these virtual breakout rooms interactive and fun.

While these are just a few examples of how to use a virtual breakout room, what are some of the best practices for ensuring your success when using these tools.

Virtual breakout rooms replicate the feeling of small-group brainstorming, only online.
Virtual breakout rooms replicate the feeling of small-group brainstorming, only online.

Best Practices for Your Virtual Breakout Rooms

The first best practice to consider when hosting virtual breakout rooms is why and how you will use this tool. Carefully consider:

·         What is the purpose of these side rooms and how will they be used?

·         How many people do you want in these rooms at a time?

·         Who will facilitate these breakout meetings?

·         Decide if the group participation is random or designed.

It’s typically recommended that you appoint a moderator for each virtual breakout room. These groups should be small; like the research says, the smaller the better. Just like any meeting, make sure your virtual breakout room participants have a clear agenda before leaving the main meeting.

Why Use Virtual Breakout Rooms?

Stanford University Research says meetings with seven people at a time are the ideal size. That alone should be enough of an argument to suggest that creating the virtual breakout room as a sidebar to a big meeting is a great idea. The benefits of using virtual breakout rooms include:

·         Higher engagement of large audiences.

·         Time saved working on specific tasks.

·         More candid discussions in smaller groups.

·         Bonding and networking between peers.

·         Better collaboration between teams.

The Harvard Business Review describes the benefits of the virtual breakout room in this way:
“This breakout strategy allows all attendees to be engaged and involved in developing ideas. More voices are heard with less risk of an attendee flying under the radar. This strategy also creates a sense of accountability, where each group is assigned to a task. As an added benefit, this technique can save time if a divide-and-conquer approach is used.”

However, your virtual breakout room is only effective if you use the right video conferencing solution. MegaMeeting offers many benefits if you’re adopting virtual meetings and using breakout rooms to improve the experience:

·         MegaMeeting is highly secure and fully HIPAA-compliant. Because our service is web-based, security updates happen on a regular basis as software security improves. You can rest easier knowing that your data is encrypted both while in-transit and at rest.

·         MegaMeeting is web-based, so participants will avoid the necessity of downloading a file from the internet. You can embed the link to your meeting in an email and participants simply click to join.

·         MegaMeeting allows you to white label your meeting (available at higher-level subscriptions). This means you can fully brand your meeting and virtual breakout rooms without the distraction of any logo but your own. Small companies can appear much larger when it appears there is no third-party video conferencing solution between you and your audience.

Find out why MegaMeeting is the best kept secret of some of the biggest brands in the U.S. Our 14-day free trial will allow you to fully leverage our sophisticated but easy-to-use virtual meeting features. Click here to get started.

MegaMeeting solves the biggest challenges of modern video conferencing. For users, it is an all-in-one platform that delivers both video conferencing and webinars in a single, simplified interface. For attendees, it is 100% browser-based, making it highly accessible; joining a meeting is instantaneous from a single click. For enterprises, it is highly customizable, with white-labeling options for a private branded solution. For developers, it is API-driven and easy to integrate.

Powered by WebRTC, Node.js, React, and GraphQL, it is a cutting-edge platform that is fun and easy to use for users and developers alike.