Breakouts: Facilitate teamwork

Breakouts: Facilitate teamwork

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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.

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Breakout Rooms vs. Groups

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

Rooms

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.

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

🎥 Video explainer: Breakout Rooms

Groups

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.

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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.

🎥 Video explainer: Breakout Groups

Before your 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.

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Prepare Rooms

To prepare your breakout rooms, you have the following options:

  • 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
  • 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.

You also have the option of naming each room.

Here's what the room setup looks like 👇

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Prepare Groups

When preparing breakout groups, you have the following options:

  • Breakout name - set the name of your breakout from your toolbox or agenda
  • Min. participants per group - how many people (minimum) should be in each group
  • Group names - groups will be randomly named by the following options: Normal (Group 1, 2, etc.), Gods, Fruits, Pokemon, Animals, or Colors
  • Duration - how long your breakout session will last
  • Tasks - create one or more tasks for participants to complete. You can assign tasks to individual rooms or to all rooms at once.
  • Tools - you can assign assign one tool to all groups. The tool will automatically open once you start your breakouts.

Here's what the breakout groups setup looks like 👇

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Assign 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 breakouts 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.

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For Groups, all groups receive the same tasks.

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

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

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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. In this example, one breakout has a Google Doc and another breakout has a Miro board.

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

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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

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Add breakouts to your agenda

To add your breakout to your agenda, go to the ‘Agenda’ tab in your room setup and click ‘Edit Agenda’.

From there, you can create an agenda block or edit an existing agenda block and add your pre-created breakout tool.

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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 on the right or from your Agenda.

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

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Here you can monitor all the groups, manage help requests, coordinate with your co-facilitators, and keep things moving.

Let's go through each of them.

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. You will be able to see and hear what’s going on in the group.

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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.

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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.

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If you are in a breakout group, the help-request notification will pop up in a little menu in the bottom-right-hand corner so you always know who needs help and can quickly move around!

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Pro tip: When you click on a help request, it will take 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:

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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.

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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 top-right of the Breakout overview.

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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.

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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.
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When you ‘Reshuffle groups’, you can see all the participants and run the raffle multiple times.

If you need to make some small tweaks, you can just drag and drop people around.

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🎥 Video explainer: How do participants experience breakouts?

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