Breaking Up with Bad Break-outs: Tips to Improve your Online Breakout Rooms

LMU Management Professor Ellen Ensher
Elizabeth Hodos, Founder of HIL Training

Tuesday, August 25
12 - 1 p.m. PDT
Zoom Webinar


With remote work a necessity and online conferencing burgeoning, we are all facing new challenges in conducting online training and education.

Virtual breakout rooms have become a go-to to escape the tedium of the perennial shared-screen PowerPoint slides. In fact, on-line breakout rooms are terrific for application based exercises and collaborative work. However, online break-outs are quite different than small group work in a face-to-face environment. When we are face-to-face with our participants, we use our super powers in intuition and multi-tasking. We can simultaneously work with one group, while also paying attention to the energy and engagement of other groups in the room, which is quite difficult online. In short, we can hear, hover, correct, and coach on the spot. However, in virtual break-outs, so much time can be wasted on logistics, and participants vary in their team-work skills and preparation.

Join our presentation and conversation on strategies to increase productivity and engagement in virtual breakout rooms.


Ellen A. Ensher, Ph.D. is a Professor of Management at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, California. Inc. recognized Ellen in their list of 100 top leadership speakers in 2018. In 2017, Ellen was named LMU Professor of the Year for excellence in teaching. Ellen is the co-author with Susan Murphy of Power Mentoring: How Mentors and Protégés Get the Most Out of Their Relationships, and has published over 50 articles and book chapters. She has published in leading journals including: Journal of Career Development, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Leadership Quarterly on topics related to mentoring and careers. In addition, Ellen is a LinkedIn Learning author of four courses on mentoring and management. To view her TEDx talk on mentoring, and for more information, please visit

Elizabeth Hodos is the founder of HIL Training, which focuses on using the basic tenets of Improvisational Theater to develop critical interpersonal and communication skills within organizations. Having worked with numerous companies, she has seen firsthand how this approach leads to more creative, inclusive, and engaged environments. She has been honored to speak about these necessary skills at various conferences, including: Chicago Ideas Week, Women in Product, Pragmatic Institute, Agile Day Chicago, and others. For more information about Elizabeth and HIL Training, visit: