I’ve never made a friend in a breakout room

image of author Antonia Hellman

Antonia Hellman


4 min read


I can’t be the only one.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never made a friend in a breakout room.

Breakout rooms on traditional video conferencing platforms are those deep, dark places that you get shipped off to at the whims of the host of the call. They click a button and randomly assign you a group of strangers to stare at awkwardly for a handful of minutes that feel like decades.

Being in a breakout room feels like you’re in another universe, far away from everyone else on the call. Floating around. Alone. But…with random people…

Being out of control is freaky.

Typically, hosts send attendees to breakout rooms for a specific amount of time - before everyone reconvenes in the main room. I have always found that knowing that our time together is limited inhibits our conversation from getting any deeper than the surface level.

Plus, fundamentally, breakout rooms feel productivity-driven. You have a topic that you need to discuss or a problem that you need to solve, and you have 3 minutes to do it. Then, you get cut off - regardless of whether you’re in the middle of a sentence. It doesn’t matter.

Traditional breakout rooms don’t let you choose whom you talk to, the length of your conversation, or what you talk about; there’s no agency or freedom. And making friends is hard to do under duress. Breakout rooms simply aren’t designed to facilitate genuine social connections.

Let everyone be free, and you’ll see a huge difference.

This is where more social video platforms like Toucan come into play. If you’re the leader of a group and want to bring people together in such a way that they can really get to know each other, they can only do so when they’re free of your control. You need to let them socialize how they feel the most comfortable - most people don’t prefer forced randomization or time limits.

I’ve never made a friend in a breakout room, but I have made countless on Toucan.

You may be interested in…

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About author

image of author Antonia Hellman

Antonia Hellman

Antonia Hellman is co-founder and CEO of Toucan.

She is a recent graduate of Stanford University, having studied political science and economics.

She enjoys long walks to explore new cities, listening to audiobooks on 1.2x speed, a cup of hot water, and re-watching mediocre movies.

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