Power of the Zoom Breakout

Over the past few months, in post-session survey feedback, an overwhelming number of people have commented on how much they valued the experience of the breakout room conversations. They say that they appreciated the more intimate discussions that occurred, the opportunity to meet new people in the organization that they’d never crossed paths with before, and being able to apply key concepts with peers.

In a way this feedback isn’t a surprise – even in person, the small group conversations have always been what people treasure. But in this virtual world, I wonder if we value it even more. Are we needing and wanting deeper and more authentic conversations with our teams and colleagues because we aren’t seeing them in person? 

We can hear your collective “ugh, I need less Zoom not more”; but maybe we need to rethink how we’re using this platform and brainstorm different and more generative opportunities.

It is through conversation that we connect with other people. While many conversations can be superficial and transactional, they always have the potential for something deeper and more real. When we drop down a level or two below the surface, we touch vulnerability, authenticity, and love. 

While love isn’t a word that we typically use in business, with colleagues or direct reports; it is what shows up when we are real with each other. Love is present when we go beyond ourselves. Having the experience of being seen and understood, and valued for who we are is what deepens trust and allows us to work better together. 

The breakout rooms invite us to have real conversations; and every conversation offers the opportunity to deepen a relationship. As Susan Scott says in her book Fierce Conversations:  “Our work, our relationships, and indeed our very lives succeed or fail gradually, and then suddenly one conversation at a time”.

So, in this virtual world where Zoom and other similar platforms have become the primary means for getting together, use the breakout rooms more regularly and not just for getting work done. Incorporate them into your meetings as an intentional way to foster connection and deepen relationships.  Mix up the groups and send them off with a question: 

  • Despite all the challenges, what are you most proud of right now? 
  • What gives you hope? 
  • What do you need more of? 
  • What’s a challenge you overcame this past week? 
  • What strengths are you leaning into?  

We know that stronger relationships = stronger culture = stronger business.