Web conferencing tools like Cisco WebEx allow for up to 200 video meeting participants, while its webinar software WebEx Events can accommodate up to 3,000 attendees.
These high meeting capacities are ideal for businesses with thousands of team members or companies who use webinars to promote products and services, but they make personal communication difficult.
WebEx breakout rooms facilitate small-group communication among webinar participants, team members, and customers, allowing both attendees and management to get more out of their online meetings.
What Are WebEx Breakout Rooms?
WebEx breakout rooms is a video conferencing features that allows the host to separate larger video meetings and webinars into several smaller groups of a set number of participants.
Breakout rooms are live sessions allowing meeting attendees to share ideas, collaborate on projects, network, and edit files.
They may be used as a part of a training webinar, for educators to break students up into small groups, or for business teams to discuss issues within their departments.
These breakout sessions can last for as long as the host would like, and you can have multiple breakout sessions within a single meeting.
The Benefits of Breakout Rooms
According to a Workfront study on the state of work in 2020, more than 62% of employees say unproductive and needless meetings are the number one reason why they struggle with getting work done throughout the day.
Additionally, 85% of HR managers say employee engagement is their top priority. Breakout rooms boost employee engagement by directly involving them in discussions and actively encouraging them to share their ideas.
These rooms also save time, as an article in the Wall Street Journal found 40% of team members waste a minimum of 30 minutes each workday arranging a meeting space.
They can also increase productivity, as the average employee says they spend about 31 hours every month in unproductive meetings.
Additional breakout room benefits include:
- Preventing miscommunications
- Collaborative brainstorming sessions
- Ensuring teams are working on the same file version
- Identifying potential team leaders
- Evaluating employee satisfaction
- Networking during webinars and online events
- Increased employee accountability
- Getting to know customers and target markets
- Breaking down large projects into tasks or sections
Using Breakout Rooms For A WebEx Training Session
One of the most popular use cases of breakout rooms is employee onboarding or hosting a training session.
For example, HR departments can share content about vacation policies and company culture in the main meeting room.
Then, team members can break up into focus groups to create presentations on specific policies, ask one another questions, or develop suggestions to improve current policies.
Project managers give the entire office an overview of an upcoming project and divide attendees into breakout rooms by teams.
This way, employees can collaborate on their project responsibilities according to the department and assign related tasks to specific employees. Then, the teams can return to the main session room and present their roadmaps for their session topic.
Additionally, WebEx training sessions are available to teach team members and project managers about how to use the software for numerous session options.
The WebEx Training Center provides more information on training capabilities, including:
- How to schedule training sessions
- Breakout assignment options
- Automated grading
- On-demand training sessions
- Attention indicators
- Hands-on lab
- Multi-language support
Essential Features of WebEx Breakout Rooms
WebEx allows users to create up to 100 breakout sessions with a maximum of 100 participants per room.
Once participants and hosts have joined a session, they have access to essential communication and collaboration features via a dashboard.
These features include:
- Live video streaming
- Message broadcasting to all rooms
- Room participant list
- Virtual hand raising
- Pre-session attendee room assignments
- Screen sharing (individual app or desktop)
- Chat messaging
- Remote control
- “Ask for Help” button
- Mute/unmute participants
- Audio conference dial-in feature
- File sharing and editing
- Build a breakout session panel
- Allow attendees to create breakout sessions
- Whiteboard tool
- Ability to leave and rejoin breakout sessions
- Host controls to manage screen sharing, room access, and editing
- Webcam compatibility
The biggest downside of breakout rooms is that, as of this writing, users joining WebEx meetings via mobile devices and mobile collaboration tools cannot join, create, or manage breakout sessions.
6 Steps to Creating a Breakout Room on WebEx
This step-by-step guide to creating WebEx breakout rooms shows how easy and intuitive the process of how to set up breakout sessions is.
Hosts can assign breakout room privileges at any time during a meeting, so that attendees, panelists, or other hosts can create and manage these rooms.
Click the “Breakout” tab in the drop-down menu at top of your screen and select “Breakout Session Assignment. A pop-up Breakout Session Assignment box will appear.
Choose to assign attendees “Manually” or “Automatically.” If you choose “Automatically,” simply select the number of breakout sessions and the number of attendees per breakout session.
To manually create breakout sessions and assign specific users to specific rooms, click the “Add Session” button to add as many sessions/rooms as you’d like. You may name sessions by right-clicking on the breakout room and selecting “Change Name.”
On the left-hand side of the pop-out box, you’ll see a list of attendees and panelists. Click on the session you’d like to add a user to, then click on the attendee’s name. Click on the arrow button to add the attendee to the selected room. You can designate users as “attendees” or “presenters.”
Once you’ve assigned all attendees to a specific breakout room, click “OK” and then click “Start” to begin the sessions.
To end breakout sessions, click the red “End All” button at the bottom of the dashboard. This gives users in sessions a 30-second countdown to wrap up conversations. Attendees will be redirected to the main meeting room. You can also select the “Breakout” tab from the drop-down list and click “Ask All to Return.”
How to Facilitate Breakout Rooms
Hosts can join a breakout room by clicking the breakout menu at the top of your screen and selecting, “Join Breakout Session.”
This allows hosts to facilitate breakout rooms by asking questions, sending reminders about time, or sharing presentations.
To broadcast a message to breakout rooms, click on the “Breakout” tab at the top of your screen and select “Broadcast Message.” Select if you’d like to send the message to the presenters only, or to all attendees across breakout rooms.
Hosts and participants can share files, whiteboards, and desktop screens within a breakout rooms screen sharing apps by clicking the “Share” tab. Users and hosts can annotate any files or whiteboards shared in breakout rooms in real-time. All edited whiteboards and files are automatically saved.
To exit a session, click on the orange button on the dashboard marked “Leave Breakout Session.” This will close the session window, and you will be automatically redirected back to the main meeting room.
After you’ve closed the breakout rooms, you can share boards and files created in these sessions with everyone in the main meeting room. To do so, click the “Breakout” tab and select “Share Breakout Session Content.” This sends a message to the breakout session presenter to share the session content.
Is WebEx the Best Team Communication Tool?
Although WebEx may have the best breakout room features, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s also the best video conferencing tool.
Web conferencing platforms offer additional team collaboration features like chat messaging, meeting recording, and group polling.
Our head-to-head comparisons of WebEx vs GoToMeeting and Zoom vs WebEx allow you better evaluate which video conferencing software provides the best team communication features outside of just breakout rooms.