How to Lead Mingles Online
With some creativity and virtual breakout rooms, you can lead successful mingles online. The difference online is how to people get into pairs and switch partners. These instructions are based on Zoom Meetings; adjust for your software as needed.
The first option starts with participant pairs in breakout rooms. For each round of the mingle, the facilitator manually rotates participants into different pairs. This option is great for multiple rounds with the same mingle prompt, and for guaranteeing new partners in each round.
First, prepare the group:
- Share the prompt. Keep it simple, since they’ll use it multiple times. Paste it into the chat box so it’s visible during the mingle breakouts.
- Explain that after X minutes in pairs, they’ll get a notification that they’re about to switch partners.
- Explain that “changing partners” involves moving people between rooms. “You might find yourself moving rooms, your partner might disappear, and it might take a moment before a new partner shows up. There might be three people for a moment. Just take a couple breaths and let the new pairs settle – you’ll get a new partner!”
- They should do the same prompt again with their new partner.
- You’ll repeat X times, warning them with a pop-up each time before you change partners.
What this looks like on the back end:
- Set the breakouts setting so that people are automatically moved into their rooms, there is no timer in the room, and there is no countdown at the end, when you close rooms.
- Manually put everyone in pairs.
- Start the rooms for the first round.
- When you’re ready to start moving people, use the Broadcast message tool to let participants know they’re about to switch partners.
- In the breakouts menu, each room will have two people listed. Only move the person listed second for each room. Start with room 1; move the second person from room 1 into room 2. Then, for room 2, move the second person listed to room 3, and so on. In the last room, move the second person listed to room 1.
- Optionally, broadcast the prompt again to all the groups.
- After X minutes, repeat. Always move the second person listed into a new room; the first person listed should never move from their original room, across all mingle rounds.
- When you’ve done enough rounds, broadcast a message saying “you’ll be coming back to the main room shortly,” then close the rooms. Everyone will immediately return to the main room.
If your mingle prompt changes each round and/or if your group is really large, you can sort breakouts automatically, and return participants to the main room between rounds. Compared to Option 1, this takes more time, and is more likely to repeat partners. To use this method:
- Set the breakout setting so that people are automatically moved into their rooms and there is a short countdown at the end, when you close rooms (i.e 20-30 seconds).
- Use automatically formed rooms of two, instead of manual pairs.
- After the first round, close the rooms, returning participants to the main room. Share the new prompt and/or explain you’re putting them in new pairs.
- In the breakouts menu, reform the groups again with automatic, random groups of two.
- Repeat until you are done.
See also: The Mingle