To encourage smoother collaboration or discussion, you may need to split your participants into smaller groups. This is what Breakouts are for! In Butter, you can prepare your breakout rooms or groups in advance. This includes adding tools to your breakouts. Once your session is running, you can observe, help, and manage your groups from one single dashboard.

Choosing between Breakout Rooms vs. Groups

Before we start, let’s cover the main differences between breakout Rooms and Groups.


Rooms are OPEN. Participants can move freely between rooms—like physical rooms in a house or auditoriums in a conference hall.

Rooms are best for a conference-like setting where each room has its own discussion topic or unique purpose.

When setting them up, you just decide how many rooms you want and set a name for each room. You can also assign tasks and tools to rooms in advance.

Once the session starts, you can either manually assign participants to rooms, or let them join rooms on their own.

Pro tip: Because Rooms lets participants move freely, they are great for facilitation methods like Open Space, networking, or socializing sessions.


Groups are meant for quickly splitting up participants into equally sized groups. They’re best for group work or having smaller discussions.

Groups are CLOSED, which means that the participants cannot move between them on their own.

They are fast to create—you simply decide the number of participants you want per group, and they will be randomly distributed evenly between the groups.

Pro tip: Groups are great for facilitation methods like World Café because you can quickly re-allocate the participants in new groups during the session.

Preparing breakouts

As with any Butter tool, you can prepare a Breakout from a room’s Agenda or Toolbox.

You can access a room’s Toolbox by going to your dashboard and selecting ‘Setup’ on the room you want to add your breakouts to.

To create a new breakout, select + Add Tool and select Breakouts. From there, you can choose between Groups and Rooms, and set it up according to the dynamics you want.


Setting up the basics

To prepare your breakouts, you have the option to set up the following.

  • Breakout name - set the name of your breakout from your toolbox or agenda
  • Number of rooms - how many rooms you want
  • Duration - how long your breakout session will last
  • Observe mode - set whether or not facilitators can observe the breakout groups, which means they can listen and see what’s happening
  • Tasks - create one or more tasks for participants to complete. You can assign tasks to individual rooms or to all rooms at once.
  • Tools - Drag and drop tools to individual rooms or to all rooms at once. The tool will automatically open once you start your breakouts. You can only add one tool per room.

For Breakout Groups, you can set up the minimum no. of participants per group.

For Breakout Rooms, you also have the option for:

  • Open rooms - this lets you control whether or not participants can move freely between breakout rooms
  • Naming each room - so participants can choose to go into whichever room they want to

Here's what the room setup flow is like 👇

Assigning tasks to breakouts

There’s nothing worse than being unsure of what you’re supposed to be working on during a breakout...

Tasks make it easy for your participants to remember what they need to accomplish. To create a task, just type in the instructions for the breakouts and save each instruction as a task.

For Rooms, you have the option of assigning different tasks to each group.

For Groups, all groups receive the same tasks.

When the breakout session starts, each breakout can see their tasks as a checklist and mark them as complete from inside their session.

Simple as that. No need to broadcast the goals via chat anymore!

Assign tools to breakouts

Want your breakouts to brainstorm on a Miro board? Want them to watch a Youtube video? Or fill out a Google Doc?

Easy peasy. Just assign the tool to the breakouts beforehand, and it will open automagically when they enter the room!

With Rooms, you can assign different tools per breakout. For example, one breakout has a Google Doc, and another breakout has a Butterboard 👇

With Groups, you can assign only one tool to all groups. In this example, all the groups enter to the same YouTube video.

Pro tip: To spark discussion in each breakout, assign a Flashcard Deck. Each breakout will be able to cycle through the flashcards on their own. For more info, see FlashcardsFlashcards.

Running breakouts in-session

Let's talk about managing the breakout session while it is running.

You can start and manage the setup of your breakout sessions from the Toolbox or from your Agenda on the left-hand.

You can open the breakouts you’ve set up for the Toolbox or the Agenda!

Breakout overview: keep tabs on what’s happening

Once you've started a breakout session, you will spend most of your time in the Breakout Overview.

The breakout overview gives you the control you need to manage breakouts with ease
The breakout overview gives you the control you need to manage breakouts with ease

This will pretty much be your command center while breakouts are in progress! Here, you can:

  • Monitor all the groups and keep track of their activity — from where each person is assigned, to how many tasks they’ve completed
  • Manage help requests
  • Broadcast messages
  • Cordinate with your co-facilitators
  • Observe the breakout sessions, and see the progress they have with the tools that you’ve set up — from what’s happening to a Miro board, to which slide they’re on
  • View activity level in each of the groups/rooms

It gives you live insights and data that help you take the right actions in-session. The overview is built to make navigation easy and smooth during a live breakout session!

Observe rooms without joining

In a workshop, there's nothing that breaks a good discussion like a facilitator walking up to your table and asking: "So, how’s it going?" The same thing is true with facilitators joining a breakout room in a virtual session!

That's why, in Butter, you can observe your groups without joining their room. This makes it easy to listen in and see if the breakout needs help.

To observe a group, select the Observe button in the room or group you want to take a peek into.


You will be able to see and hear what’s going on in the group, see which tools participants are using in the groups, and you can exchange chat messages with groups, all without interrupting whatever’s going on.


When you are observing a room, the participants will get a notification that you are observing them, so they can quickly click on your avatar to ask for your help.


Help requests: Let participants request assistance

During breakout sessions, participants have the option to ask for help from a facilitator. It’s just like how you’d request assistance from the flight staff when you're on a plane!

But what happens when they request help?

As a facilitator, you will get notified when a group or a room requests your assistance.

Participants can request help from a specific facilitator or send a general help request. Once a facilitator attends to the Group, the help request is automatically removed.

If you are in the main overview, you will see the help requests come up like this 👇 You can then quickly jump to the room requesting help.

Clicking on a help request takes you directly to the room or group that has requested your help!
Clicking on a help request takes you directly to the room or group that has requested your help!

Monitoring task completion

As your groups work through the assigned tasks, they will mark them complete in their task list, as seen below:


From the main overview, you can follow each group's progress with the Tasks done indicator. This way, you can quickly see if some groups are falling behind and needs some guidance!

Broadcasting messages to rooms

When you need to share instructions with everyone, you want to use the Broadcast feature.

The quickest way to broadcast to all rooms is to use the Broadcast option available in the Breakout overview.


You can also broadcast a message to all rooms using the All Rooms channel in the chat. When sending a message in All Rooms, everyone will get a notification about the broadcast, which they can open to see in the chat.


Editing groups on the fly

It would be great if breakout sessions always worked out as we expected. But it's just not the case, and as facilitators, we need to take action and re-arrange things.

There are two ways you can move participants around:

  • Edit breakout lets you edit everything: tools, tasks, and participants.
  • Set/extend duration lets you change the time duration of your breakouts.
  • Reshuffle groups lets you quickly re-arrange people in the groups.
  • Merge or split groups (more on this below)

Rearranging participants into different rooms or groups

  • Reassign in Rooms: When you click on Reassign, you can see all the participants, and reassign them manually or randomize it as needed. Once the sorting is done, just Update current breakout.
  • Merging and splitting Groups instantly: You can also merge groups together into bigger groups, or split them into smaller groups instantly! Just click on Move/merge/split, and rearrange them — then once it’s finalized, Update current breakout. This is perfect for activities like 1-2-4-All, and randomized pairings!

Revisiting the breakout sessions: Breakout history

If you’re someone who often forgets what happened in a session immediately after it ends, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

We have the Breakout history to help you see which people were in the same group. You can also open the tool from each of the breakouts, or spotlight the group who needs to present.

You can do this by heading to the Participant list > Breakout in the top-right menu in the main room (Pro-tip: This is also possible when breakouts are in progress)


You can find also find this in the Recaps after the session.

🎥 Video explainer: How do participants experience breakouts?

Here’s a 2-minute tour of how participants experience breakout rooms.

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