Creating Breakout Sessions in Microsoft Teams and Using Mural

Our assumptions for today’s class are that you:

  1. Already have a Team created in Microsoft Teams;
  2. Can Create Channels and Meetings in Teams; and
  3. Have signed up for an account at

Step 1: Getting Teams Ready

The first thing to do is open Microsoft Teams, and then create channels for all of your breakout sessions. The secret to creating primary and breakout sessions in Teams is to hold your meetings inside of the channels.

Caution: this does require that you have invited all attendees to become members of your Team.

In my example today, I have a Team named CDA Computer Training, and there is a channel called General, as well as a channel called Red Breakout and Blue Breakout. Before I forge ahead, I do want to recommend that you use descriptive names for the breakout channels. It will help members find their way around and is more memorable than using names like Breakout A and Breakout B.

Step 2. The Meeting Invitation

Be certain you create the meeting invitation from within Teams, and not within Outlook. By using Teams to create the invitation, you can localize it to the General Channel of your Training team.

Step 3. Using Mural inside of Teams

There are many whiteboard solutions on the market, but Mural has a great intuitive interface that you can use for any kind of activity. I have previously created a Mural with three sections for our training: Group Results, Red Team Breakout, and Blue Team Breakout.

Our goal is to copy a link to each breakout in Mural and create a tab out of it on the breakout in Teams. The steps are quite easy:

  1. Right-click on the Mural Framework that I want the tab to link to.
  2. Choose Link to this Framework from the dropdown.
  3. Right-click and copy the link address.
  4. Go back into Microsoft Teams.
  5. Click the channel where I want the tab to appear.
  6. Click the Plus sign to add a Tab to the channel.
  7. Choose Website as the type of tab.
  8. Name the tab and paste the link.
  9. Click Save.

Step 4. Before the Meeting Starts

The key to using breakouts in Teams is to start several meetings before all of your attendees join you. You are probably familiar with joining a meeting in Teams, but a lot of people just don’t realize that you can have multiple Teams meetings running at the same time. (At this time, one person can have a maximum of 4 meetings running at a time.)

When you are ready to set up your training environment, follow these quick steps:

  1. Double-click the Teams meeting in your Teams calendar.
  2. Click Join in the Meeting Details window.
  3. Click the Teams button on the left side.
  4. Click the first breakout channel.
  5. Click the Meet Now button beneath the chat field.
  6. Click Meet Now button in the preview.
  7. You are now in two meetings!

Step 5. Switching Back and Forth between the Primary and Breakout Sessions

if you don’t see the breakout session press the control key on your keyboard to bring up the hold button on the left and your meeting control bar at the bottom.

When you joined the second meeting in the previous section you effectively put the primary session “on hold.” In fact, you’ll see a floating box with the name of the primary session and two buttons in it near the upper left corner of your screen.

To return to the primary session, click the Play button on the floating hold box.

You’ll see that you have returned to the primary meeting, but still have a floating hold box. That floating hold box now has the name of the breakout session in it.

Step 6. Asking Participants to Join a Breakout

When it comes time to ask participants to join a breakout session, the steps are pretty easy. Almost the same as in Step 4, but with one difference.

  1. Ask participants to click on the Teams button on the left side of their screen.
  2. Next, they should click on the breakout channel to which they have been assigned.
  3. Finally, a participant will click in the Join button in the middle of the Posts tab of the breakout channel to which they were assigned.

Remember, as soon as they click on that Join button, they won’t be able to hear you any longer until you switch over to that breakout session.

Step 7. Helping others use breakout sessions in Teams

One issue has come up repeatedly when trying to help newcomers move back and forth between sessions: make sure that they don’t click the end call button! Also, it helps to remind them that they won’t see a floating box for the session they are currently in: you only see the floating hold box for sessions you have joined but are not currently in.

Step 8. Facilitating a Teams Meeting with Breakout Sessions

Most of your users will probably only have one primary and one breakout session open at a time, which can make their life easy. Just remember, however, that as a facilitator you will need to jump between breakout sessions. That’s another great reason to give meaningful names to your meeting and breakout sessions. 

If you are working with a large group, it can be very helpful to have assistant facilitators and technical assistants in the meeting with you to help keep things moving. I also like to assign Mentors to each breakout group, people that I have prepped before the meeting with skills to keep an exercise on track if a facilitator is not immediately available. 

I have created a To Do List for Facilitators that assumes you’ll be working with a Team to facilitate a larger meeting or retreat. Please feel free to try it out and let me know how your meeting goes.