Zoom =

Echoed Dialogue on Zoom

Instruct your group that you’ll be sending them into breakout rooms in pairs. Once there, given a prompt or question, one partner shares for thirty seconds. The listener then echoes word-for-word, as best they can, what the speaker said. If the echo is satisfactory, they will swap roles and repeat. If not, the original speaker reiterates and the listener tries again. You can broadcast new prompts to the breakout rooms, or call everyone back after a few minutes.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Explain that the goal of this activity is to be able to accurately echo what the other person is saying, and they’ll be doing this in pairs.
  2. Instruct them to, once they are in their breakout rooms, choose an initial speaker and an initial listener, explaining that they’ll be given a prompt or question to focus on.
  3. Once they’ve decided roles, the initial speaker will respond to the prompt for 30 seconds or so. Then the listener’s job is to repeat the speaker’s response back to them, echoing it as accurately as possible.
  4. If the initial speaker deems the echo satisfactory, they swap roles and repeat. If the echo missed the mark, the speaker reiterates their original response, and the listener tries to echo again.
  5. After they’ve both successfully shared and echoed the other person’s share, they are done.
  6. At that point, you can either have them return back to the full group, or tell them you’ll be broadcasting additional prompts for which they should repeat steps 3 - 5.
  7. Check in for questions or clarifications.
  8. Share their first prompt and then move all participants into breakout room pairs.


Have the breakout rooms you’ll need set up prior to giving the instructions for this activity to make that transition smoother. You’ll need rooms for your total participants divided by two. If you have an odd number of participants, plan to either stand in, or have one three-person group (and provide them tailored instructions).

Having a short version of the instructions for steps 3 - 5 to copy-paste as a broadcast, or into the chat, will also help things run more smoothly.


Randomly assigning pairs here is going to be way easier than doing it based on a mindful selection, particularly if you have a large group. If you want to assign pairs intentionally, do so before the meeting by pre-assigning breakout rooms.

Broadcasting reminders of the instructions will be helpful nudging, in case the pairs have gotten derailed, or have lost track of time. If you’re going to do multiple prompts, going back and forth from the breakouts to the full group will be more disruptive than offering the instructions for the subsequent prompts all at once, or via broadcasts.

If you are broadcasting prompts, send an initial broadcast that says something like, “Next prompt incoming! Make a note!”, then copy-paste the prompt. This will help them catch it if they’re right in the middle of dialogue.

Substituting Apps

If you're using apps other than Zoom, here are the specific things your software will need to be able to do:

Zoom allows you to create enough breakout rooms to place your participants in pairs.


Author HeadshotAustin, TX

Activity by Sam Killermann

Co-developer of Facilitator Cards and co-author of Unlocking the Magic of Facilitation. Longtime facilitator of gender/sexuality education.

Facilitation Testers Needed

This activity by Sam Killermann would really benefit from other facilitators testing it, tweaking it, and reporting back. If you give it a try in your virtual facilitation, all we ask is that you tell us how it went.

The main things we're wondering are regarding the context you facilitated it in (with whom, and toward what goal), how well it worked (what worked and what didn't), and in what ways you altered the instructions to make it work for you.