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How to set up Google Meet Breakout Rooms before the meeting starts

One of the best ways to make virtual meetings and events you host run smoothly is to set up as much as you can before the meeting starts. In Google Meet the host can pre-assign meeting participants to breakout rooms, add co-hosts, and configure other meeting settings in Google Calendar before the event. 

Here's how to easily set up and manage breakout rooms: 

  1. As the host, you must have a paid account that includes the breakout room feature (learn more)
  2. Set up your Meet meeting as a Google Calendar event (learn more)
  3. Invite individual participants to the meeting (learn more)
  4. Assign breakout rooms in the Calendar event's Video Call Options  (learn more)
  5. Optional:  Add co-hosts  (learn more)
  6. Optional: Turn on Quick Access  (learn more)
  7. In the meeting add additional participants or reassign breakout rooms  (learn more)
  8. Make sure Host Management is enabled in the meeting (learn more)
  9. Open the breakout rooms  (learn more)
  10. When you're done, Close the breakout rooms  (learn more)

Read on for detailed instructions or watch the video (or both!).


Google Meet Breakout Room Availability

Note that breakout rooms are a premium Meet feature, and requre a paid Google Workspace account.

Current breakout rooms are available for:

* Google Workspace Individual Subscriber (this is an upgrade to a personal Google account)

* Google Workspace editions 

  • Essentials (note: this is no longer available to new customers) 
  • Business Standard
  • Business Plus
  • Enterprise Starter
  • Enterprise Essentials
  • Enterprise Standard
  • Enterprise Plus
  • Education Plus
  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade (for Education)
  • Nonprofits
Breakout rooms are not available for meetings hosted by someone using a personal Google Account, or a  Google Workspace Business Starter or Essentials Starter account.

More information: 

Set up your Meet meeting as a Google Calendar event


To assign breakout rooms in advance, your Meet meeting must be set up as a Google Calendar event. 

To set up a Meet meeting in Calendar event on desktop: 

1. Open Google Calendar (calendar.google.com)

2. Click the  + Create button at the top of the left menu, select Event and enter the event information

To add a Meet meeting to an existing event, click the event and then click the Edit Event pencil icon.

3. Click the blue Add Google Meet video conferencing button

More Information

Invite individual participants to the meeting


In the Google Calendar event settings you can invite guests from your Contacts, your Google Workspace organization, or by entering the invitee's email address.

Note that participants do not need to respond to the invitation to be assigned to a breakout room. Invitees who do not attend can be easily be removed from assigned breakout rooms from inside the meeting.

And, importantly, only individuals can be added to breakout rooms. 

A Group Alias cannot be assigned a breakout room

You can invite a group alias (such as a Google Group) to a Google Calendar event, but group aliases cannot be assigned to a breakout room. To assign people to breakout rooms before the meeting, you will need to invite them to the event individually. 

Meeting hardware cannot be assigned to a breakout room

You cannot assign a Meet meeting room, an interop device, or a Google Next Hub Max to a breakout room. 

Participants in a Meet meeting room can join the meeting using their own phone or laptop to join their assigned breakout room. 

Note that participants using Companion Mode cannot speak or hear in breakout rooms, so it is best to use the regular meeting joining option instead.

More Information

Assign breakout rooms in the Calendar event's Video Call Options


The Meet meeting host (and co-hosts) can assign Calendar event invitees to breakout rooms inside the event's Video Call Options. 

Note that these settings are only available in Google Calendar on desktop. You can not assign breakout rooms in the Calendar mobile app or in the mobile web version of Calendar. 

1. Sign in to Google Calendar (calendar.google.com)

2. Click the Google Calendar event you want to edit

3. Click the Edit Event pencil icon

4. To the right of the Join with Google Meet button, click the Video Call Options gear icon

5. Click the Breakout rooms tab

6. On the Breakout rooms tab

    • Select the number of Rooms (up to 100)
    • Rename the Breakout Rooms
    • Add meeting invitees to a Room by typing their name 
    • Rearrange meeting invitees by dragging their name chips 
    Note: you will need to scroll down to see all your breakout rooms.

    You can also Shuffle invitees to have them randomly assigned to a Room

    The Clear button moves everyone to the Main Call. 

    7. When you are done, click Save

    More information

    Optional: Add co-hosts before the meeting

    You can also add co-hosts before your Meet meeting. Co-hosts can help you manage breakout rooms and other meeting settings during the meeting. They can also manage the Video Call Options in the Calendar event. 

    Co-hosts are another premium Meet feature, and not all Google Workspace editions with breakout rooms include co-hosts.  Notably, Google Workspace Individual subscribers can add breakout rooms, but cannot add co-hosts. 

    1. Sign in to Google Calendar (calendar.google.com)

    2. Click the Google Calendar event you want to edit

    3. Click the Edit Event pencil icon

    4. To the right of the Join with Google Meet button, click the Video Call Options Gear

    5. On the Host controls tab, make sure Host Management is enabled

    5. Click the Co-hosts tab

    6. Add invitees as co-hosts by typing their name. You can add up to 25 co-hosts.

    7. Save changes

    Co-hosts can be removed from the same screen. 

    Note that as host, you can also promote meeting participants to co-host during the meeting, either on desktop or in Meet on your mobile device.

    More information

    Google Meet Help: Add co-hosts in Google Meet

    Optional: Turn on Quick Access


    Enabling Quick Access allows meeting invitees to join the meeting before the host. If you want more control over participants joining the meeting, make sure Quick Access is turned off.

    This is yet another premium Google Meet feature which is not available to all Google Workspace editions. See availability here.

    If you do not have the Quick Access setting, the meetings you organize will have meeting access enabled by default. 

    When Quick Access is ON
    • Calendar event invitees can join the Meet meeting before the host joins, up to 15 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to start
    • Participants from your Google Workspace organization can automatically join
    • Participants who dial in to the meeting can automatically join
    • Any participant can dial out of the meeting
    When Quick Access is OFF
    • The meeting host must join the meeting before anyone else can join
    • Only participants invited by the host can join without having to "knock" or ask to join
    • Members of the host's Google Workspace organization must ask to join if they were not directly invited to the Calendar event or meeting
    • Only hosts can dial out of the meeting

    1. Sign in to Google Calendar (calendar.google.com)

    2. Click the Google Calendar event you want to edit

    3. Click the Edit Event pencil icon

    4. To the right of the Join with Google Meet button, click the Video Call Options Gear

    5. Click the Co-hosts tab

    6. Add invitees as co-hosts by typing their name

    7. Save changes

    If you change this setting for a recurring meeting, or a meeting with the same meeting code, the setting will be saved for future meetings. 

    Also note that you can also turn Quick Access on and off during the meeting. 

    More information

    Add additional participants or reassign breakout rooms in the meeting


    Even though you have set up your breakout rooms before the meeting, you may need to add additional guests, remove no-shows, or otherwise adjust the room assignments.

    Meeting participants who: 
    • were not invited to the Calendar event
    • dial in with their phone for audio-only access
    • are not signed in to a Google account 
    can be added to breakout rooms after they join the meeting. 

    1. Join the Meet meeting as host

    2. Click the Activities button 

    at the bottom right of the Meet window

    3. Click Breakout Rooms

    4. Click Set up breakout rooms

    5. In the Breakout Rooms settings you can manage assignments
    • Click Clear to remove everyone from the breakout rooms to the Main Call.
      At the bottom of the window,  you will see a pop-up that says Clear disconnected users?
      Click Clear on that pop-up to remove anyone who is not present. 
    • Shuffle guests randomly between breakout rooms
    • Drag guests from the Main Call to a breakout room or between breakout rooms
    • Add a guest to a breakout room by typing their name.
    6. Update other Breakout Room settings
    • Change the number of breakout rooms
    • Change the breakout room names
    • Set a Timer to automatically close the breakout rooms after a set amount of time
    7. Close the settings, cancel the changes, or Open the breakout rooms

    Make sure Host Management is enabled


    Finally, you need to turn on Host Management before you open the breakout rooms. 

    Note that all Meet meeting hosts, even those using personal Google accounts, can turn on Host Management and enable safety features. 

    Safety features include: 
    • Present Lock: prevent meeting participants from sharing their screen.
    • Chat Lock: prevent meeting participants from sending in-meeting chat messages. Participants can still read messages with this setting enabled.
    • Audio Lock: mute all participants. Participants cannot unmute themselves until this setting is turned off.
    • Video Lock: turn off all participants' cameras. Participants cannot turn their cameras back on again until this setting is turned off.
    If you do not turn on Host Management before the breakout rooms are opened, you will have to close the breakout rooms, have everyone return to the main call, then turn on Host Management to enable the safety settings.  

    With Host Management turned on, the safety feature settings apply to all breakout rooms. They can also be turned on and off in individual breakout rooms.

    1. Join the Meet meeting as a host

    2. Click the Host controls icon 
    at the bottom right of the Meet meeting window

    3. Turn on Host Management

    If Host Management is on, it is not recommended you turn it off. If you do, you will see a confirmation popup that says "Turn it off only if you're sure everyone in the call will act responsibly."

    4. Change the safety feature settings

    When a setting is turned on, it "Lets everyone"
    • Share their screen. Turn that off to enable Present Lock.
    • Send chat messages. Turn that off to enable Chat Lock.
    • Turn on their microphone. Turn that off to enable Audio Lock.
    • Turn on their video. Turn that off to enable Video Lock.
    More Information

    Open the Breakout Rooms


    Now you, the Meet meeting host, are ready to Open the breakout rooms: 
    • Your guests are assigned breakout rooms
    • Host Management is turned on
    To open the breakout rooms: 

    1. Join the Meet meeting as host

    2. Click the Activities button at the bottom right of the Meet window

    3. Click Breakout Rooms

    4. Click Set up breakout rooms

    5. Click the blue Open Rooms button

    Guests will see a popup inviting them to Join a breakout room. 


    The meeting host has the option to Join any breakout room to monitor activity or participate in discussions. 

    1. In the meeting, click the Activities button at the bottom right of the Meet window

    2. Click Breakout Rooms

    3. Click Join next to the breakout room you want to join

    The meeting host can also change the safety settings in individual breakout rooms.

    Close the Breakout Rooms


    Once the breakout room sessions are done, the host can Close the breakout rooms.

    1. In the meeting, click the Activities button at the bottom right of the Meet window

    2. Click Breakout Rooms

    3. Click the red Close Rooms button

    All meeting participants will see a red banner with a 30 second countdown. After 30 seconds everyone is automatically returned to the main call. 

    Get Help

    It's a lot, I know. The best place to ask questions is the official Google Meet Help Community.

    I, or another Product Expert, can help you with your questions.


    This tutorial was created using my account with Google Workspace Individual subscription. Thanks to my brother for letting me use his Google Workspace Essentials account to demo Co-hosts and Quick Access settings. Also thanks to Paritosh Vaid for suggestions and feedback on the video.

    Comments

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