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What are Breakout Groups?

Breakout groups are used as a large group discussion technique designed to increase participation. During a large meeting or workshop, the facilitator may assign the group to work in smaller teams to answer a question or tackle a specific challenge. Breakout groups may be assigned randomly (by counting off or by simply having people break into smaller groups) or they may be divided based on the interests represented.

For example, the Future Backwards exercise works best when the group is broken into teams with shared interests or specialties, which works to make the results from each breakout group as different as possible. Other workshops attempt to get people representing different interests working together in smaller groups to increase cross-functional learning.

Some web conferencing software providers, such as Zoom and Adobe Connect, include support for breakout groups during virtual meetings.

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