Who Receives Invitations for Teams Meetings

Personal and Channel Meetings

Microsoft refreshed the Teams Calendar app last year and introduced a new scheduling experience in early 2020. Both were good steps forward to giving Teams users the tools to manage Teams meetings effectively. At least, if you know what you’re scheduling and who can join a meeting.

Two kinds of scheduled Teams meetings exist and each behaves differently when generating meeting notifications.

  • An online Outlook meeting (personal meeting).
  • A Teams channel meeting.

Let’s discuss the differences between the two types.

Update May 15: In Office 365 Notification MC213330, Microsoft announced that the attendee picker used by the Teams calendar app now includes Exchange Online distribution groups and Microsoft 365 Groups. In other words, you can add these recipients to meetings scheduled in Teams in the same way as you can in Outlook.

Personal Online Meetings

An online Outlook meeting is created by an individual user in Outlook or in the Teams meeting app. The person who creates the meeting is the organizer and the meeting is created in the calendar in their mailbox. Online meetings created in Outlook use an add-on (like the New Teams Meeting add-on) to associate the meeting with Teams or Skype for Business Online to populate several properties of the meeting with details of how participants connect to the online platform when the event happens.

Figure 1 shows how a Teams meeting is created in Outlook. You can see the link to the online meeting that’s inserted by the New Teams Meeting add-on in the body of the notification sent to meeting attendees.

Creating a Teams meeting in Outlook
Figure 1: Creating a Teams meeting in Outlook

Remember that Outlook only loads the add-on when you’re signed into your home Teams tenant when Outlook starts. If you’re signed in as a guest to another tenant, Outlook won’t load the add-in because it can’t create meetings in that tenant.

Notifications for an Outlook Meeting

Notifications for an online Outlook meeting go from the organizer’s mailbox to the email addresses of the participants added to the meeting. Usually, these are the only people who join a meeting. Of course, if someone forwards the meeting notification to another person, that person can attend too.

When you create a meeting the Teams calendar app and don’t specify the name of a channel to meet in, it’s the same as creating an online meeting in Outlook. Only the people specified as attendees receive notifications. Teams creates the meeting in the organizer’s mailbox and sends the notifications to attendees from there. It doesn’t matter whether you create an online meeting in Outlook or Teams: the outcome is identical.

In other words, online meetings in Outlook or Teams which are not associated with a channel are personal and no-one except the organizer and the attendees know about the meeting.

Team Channel Meetings

When a meeting is scheduled in a channel, it’s no longer a personal meeting. Instead, the meeting “belongs” to the team hosting the channel and the meeting is created in the calendar in the group mailbox for the team and the team is the organizer. In effect, you’re not creating a meeting for nominated individuals to attend. Instead, you’re creating a location (the channel) and time for a meeting to occur and allowing any team member to attend.

Figure 2 shows the creation of a channel meeting. Note that two attendees are explicitly added to the meeting. We’ll come back to this later.

A channel meeting created in the Teams calendar app
Figure 2: A channel meeting created in the Teams calendar app

The big difference between personal and channel meetings is who receives notifications. A meeting created in the channel doesn’t have anyone to notify because the channel is not a person, nor does it have a mailbox or calendar. The meeting takes place in the channel at the appointed time. When the meeting is on, any team member can join it if they want. Figure 3 shows the visual signal for a channel where a meeting is happening. Team members who want to join open the channel and select Join.

How to join a Teams channel meeting
Figure 3: How to join a Teams channel meeting

There’s nothing to stop team members creating appointments in their calendar to remind them when an important channel meeting is due. In fact, it’s a good idea to do so.

You can’t change the channel a meeting is created in after the meeting is sent. If you need to change location, remove the original meeting and recreate it in the right channel.

Meet Now

Meet Now meetings are impromptu gatherings in a channel. These are channel meetings without being scheduled in the team calendar. No notifications are sent for Meet Now meetings.

People Who Receive Notifications for Channel Meetings

Remember from Figure 2 that two attendees are explicitly added as participants to the channel meeting? These are the only people who receive email notifications about the meeting. The notifications are like any other meeting notification and allow the recipient to decide if they will attend the meeting. If they accept the invitation to attend, the meeting is added to their calendar.

If groups or distribution lists are added as meeting attendees (Figure 4), their membership is expanded to find the individual members and notifications are sent to those recipients to allow them to join the meeting. Remember that the membership of a distribution list can include other distribution lists, mail users, mail contacts, and even public folders. In other words, you might end up sending an invitation to many unexpected recipients. Yammer can use Microsoft 365 Groups to manage the membership of Yammer communities, and the members of those groups might not use email and never see the invitation.

Adding a distribution list to a Teams meeting
Figure 4: Adding a distribution list to a Teams meeting

The two golden rules are:

  • If you want to be sure that someone knows about a channel meeting, add them as a meeting participant. If you don’t, they still might attend the meeting, but only if they notice that the meeting is on in the channel when it’s in progress.
  • Make sure you know who’s included in a Microsoft 365 group or distribution list before you add these objects to meeting invitations.

Teams Meetings and Office 365 Group Settings

We’ve covered the basics of personal and channel meetings here. Because Teams is built on top of Microsoft 365 Groups, some group settings affect notifications. For example, you can add someone to the subscriber list for a group and they’ll receive notifications for channel meetings because the meeting “belongs” to the team/group.

Although these group settings exist, it’s best to leave well alone and not change them. Teams hides the groups it uses from Exchange clients to stop people updating notification settings and make sure that things operate as planned. It’s not good to have too many moving parts in play when trying to figure out how things work.


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44 Replies to “Who Receives Invitations for Teams Meetings”

  1. Hi Tony, very relevant post and perfect timing!! One important point…in my tenant, when I create a Teams meeting with no attendees and only invite the channel, the Teams meeting *silently* goes on the user’s Outlook calendar for all team members. If you add a new user to the team, if another team member forwards the meeting to them in Outlook it is also auto-accepted. So this might be the best way to leverage the team membership to not manage attendees on a large recurring meeting invite.

    1. By any chance, would this be a team created before Microsoft started to hide the Office 365 Groups used by Teams from Exchange clients? I have seen some instances of this in the past and it was due to the autosubscribe feature for the group being turned on, which means that everyone in the team gets copied when new items are created in the group calendar. As I note in the article, these settings are designed for Outlook groups, not Teams, and while you can use them, they could cause confusion when some teams work one way and others (newly created) behave differently.

      1. Yes, you are correct naturally, the users do need to be subscribed the underlying O365 group to get the calendar invite to automagically appear. If you add people in the Teams client they are not subscribed.

        Our use case is to have a team dedicated exclusively to a weekly all hands meeting. Making everyone subscribers in the O365 group and then inviting solely the channel I think is an effective way to avoid the drudgery of having someone maintain a meeting invite for a large recurring meeting. Hopefully you don’t see any holes in this approach!

  2. I love this “A meeting created in the channel doesn’t have anyone to notify because the channel is not a person” …..so the channel is just some virtual reality ghost that we created to talk to aliens…… right….. or maybe I just don’t get it. So let me explain it like I was a 3 year old….my channels are my classrooms, which include between 12-30 students . Are they people ? Who should be notified ? …or should I invite them one by one ,which apparently I can do according to your instructions. I guess….I just don’t get it.

    ps. I don’t use Outlook,so please do not send your reply there.

    1. Well, it’s not like you will ever have a relationship with a channel… Think of a channel as a convenient partition in a team to have discussions about specific topics. If you want everyone in the team to be able to join a meeting, schedule it in the channel. If not, add the people you really want to be at the meeting as explicit attendees for the meeting.

  3. Very helpful. It’s exactly the information I was looking for. I wanted to do a practice video in Teams, but did NOT want anyone to know about it, unless I was satisfied I could post it. Now I know to do this through Outlook or Teams calendar WITHOUT specifying a Team. Thank you!

  4. Hi Tony, thanks for this. It’s quite hard to work out when emailed and calendar invites go out which they seem to do even from meetings created in Teams channels. Do you know what administration settings are responsible for toggling these on/off?

    1. There are no tenant-wide administrative controls over what messages users receive from Microsoft 365 Groups. Some people have reported that team members get notifications for everything sent to a channel, and often this is due to the way that the underlying group is set up to distribute updates for events in the group calendar.

  5. I have a question please. I have created a team with participants and would like to send them meeting requests on a semi regular basis. I can’t seem to find an option to invite the team as a whole. It seems to defeat the purpose to invite everyone individually when I want the same attendees every time. I have tried from both Outlook and Teams and can’t do it. Any help / advice please?

    1. How are you addressing the meeting invitation? From Outlook or Teams? Are you adding the team as a participant?

  6. Thanks Tony

    I have tried setting up the meeting both through Outlook and Teams. I want to invite the Team as you can from an Outlook distribution list by the name I have called it but can’t seem to do so. I can’t find the way to add the Team as a participant, even though I can see the team when I am in the Teams app.

    Regards……Karin

    1. Right now you can’t invite a team when you create a meeting from Teams, but you can create the meeting from Outlook and should be able to invite the team from there (assuming that the team has not been hidden from the GAL). The Teams developers know that there is a gap here and it is due to be closed in a roadmap item promised soon:

      Microsoft Teams : Ability to add distribution lists and modern groups to scheduled meetings

      We will soon release the ability to add distribution lists and modern groups to scheduled meetings in Teams. With this change, both distribution lists and modern groups will be discoverable from the people picker when scheduling meetings in Teams.

      MC213330, Stay Informed, Published date: May 15, 2020
      Copy link To clipboard
      Your users will soon be able to invite a group (Teams and Microsoft 365 groups) or distribution list to a scheduled Teams meeting. This feature is available with the Teams web app as well as the desktop app (Windows and Mac).

      Featured ID: 63987

      1. Hi Tony
        Just taken over a tenancy, though haven’t been using Teams before. Our users are pretty familiar with it.

        I was wondering if you can explain invitations that are going out from our Teams. All our Teams are private, and the owners invite occasional external members. The settings allow this and it mostly works, but the external members are getting (first) an invitation to join the Exchange Group (like this: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/use-microsoft-365-groups-as-a-guest-1f4aa594-d81f-4294-b1b3-49982062cc82), then about 24hrs later, getting an invitation to join the Team (like this: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/guest-experience).

        Of course, they can’t get at the Sharepoint site until the Team membership has been verified by the process in the second invitation. How do I stop that Groups invitation going out? It doesn’t seem necessary and it is only confusing the externals.

      2. The invitations are extended by Azure B2B collaboration. Applications call the API when an external user is added to the Microsoft 365 group underlying the team and an invitation is generated and sent by email. When the recipient redeems the invitation, their guest account is validated in Azure AD and they are allowed access to tenant resources. Teams should be sending the invitation, not Groups, but I have known things to happen differently. I can’t really comment more because I’d have to have access to your tenant… But you could file a support incident with Microsoft to see what they say.

  7. Wow, that was a quick reply. Thanks so much… I wasn’t going mad then, this isn’t what is supposed to happen. I shall investigate more.

    1. An update for those who are interested. MS say that to stop Groups sending the message, and Teams only, use this PowerShell in Exchange365:

      set-unifiedgroup -identity groupname -unifiedgroupwelcomemessageenabled:$false

      It seems the duplicate Groups invitation only gets sent to an invitee if they don’t have any MS presences (outlook.com, 365, hotmail, etc)

      1. The setting you site should be enabled for all Groups created by Teams. It’s possible that it hasn’t been enabled for Groups created in OWA, Power BI, SPO, and so on and later team-enabled. It’s easy to make sure that this is set for all Teams by fetching the set of groups enabled for teams and setting the value if it’s not set.

      2. Thanks, have done so. But for the record can report that this behaviour (and the setting) was happening for brand new Teams created in the Teams admin interface.

  8. Hi is there a way to create an all day group meeting in teams for a small group and then invite more employees to that meeting at various times throughout the day without having to invite them all to an all day meeting? Thanks

    1. You can add or remove participants from a meeting as it proceeds by accessing the participant list.

  9. When a person is sent an invite to join a teams meeting and they don’t respond to the request, can they still join the meeting?

  10. Hello Tony,

    thank you for this! I have still a question and hope, you can help me.
    I usually invite my students for a team channel meeting, because they dont have to attend. But i still want them to get a notification over the teams app (they don't use outlook, mostly because theyre only 11 years old). Is it possibly, that students get a notification regardless of their channel notification settings? Right now the meeting only appears in their calender and they dont get any notifications if the didnt activated the channel notifications. Thank you.

    1. Sorry. I don’t think you can have happen… Channel notifications are there to be enabled for a reason.

  11. i sent meeting invite created in the channel to only one other attendee or other times to specific attendees. But I got complain from a different company employee that he got all the meeting invites created in that channel. Not sure why and how to fix this for him? he set up as a guest user in that channel.

  12. Thanks for the explanation, very useful. But also slightly odd functionality in that as the organiser of a channel meeting it does not get to my desktop Outlook, but appears in the Outlook iOS app and in Office 365 on line. It also appears in my Teams calendar and also on the iOS app. I also can not add myself in the invitation. Is there a way to get it to show up in the desktop version of Outlook at all?

    1. If you created a meeting in Teams, it should show up in your Outlook calendar. That is, assuming you use the same account for Teams and Outlook.

      1. Hi, yes it was all set up in the same account and as noted appeared everywhere other than my desktop Outlook application. Strangely though when the reminder appeared on a screen for the meeting it then was added to the Desktop version, but that only appeared when the reminder came up

  13. I had a similar concern as Chris (comment 12) in that, as the meeting organizer, I no longer get the RSVPs of attendees to my inbox when I have scheduled channel meetings.
    The reason appears to be that due to an update (or setting change?) a channel meeting invite gets sent from a channel email address, so when attendees respond, the response no longer goes to the organizer’s inbox.
    As Chris pointed out, the meeting organizer cannot be added as an attendee.
    I have been unable to find a channel inbox to see attendee replies – how will I know if an attendee has proposed a different time by replying to the outlook email?

    1. There is only the group mailbox used by the team. Channels don’t have separate mailboxes.

      1. OK. I reached a similar conclusion, but I was unsuccessful accessing the groups via Outlook (the groups I am looking for are not listed when I browse for groups), or finding the group mailbox on Sharpoint.

      2. The group mailbox is used to host the calendar. What do you want to find it in?

      3. Ideally Teams or Outlook – the important thing is, if I organise a meeting I need to see the group mailbox to know who RSVPd for the meeting and if they proposed an alternative time.

      4. You can easily add a group calendar to OWA. Open the calendar and under your name click Show all, scroll down to the set of Group calendars and pick it. If the group calendar isn’t shown, it’s probably because the group is hidden from Exchange clients (most Teams groups are like this), so use the Add Calendar option to add the calendar using the email address of the group. You’ll be able to see the events in the calendar then.

      5. That will unfortunately not solve the problem, as I can already see group events on the Teams calendar. Also, by clicking on the meeting I can see if a participant accepted or declined the meeting.

        A problem is if a person reacts to invitation by selecting “Propose alternative time” in outlook, in the meeting it shows that the person declined the invitation, but the alternative time that they proposed does not reach me because it goes to the group mailbox – this leads to miscommunication.

        I also had the case where participants used the reply function in Outlook to reply to the invitation. Because I was organising the meeting I was not on the mailing list, and once again, the correspondence got lost in the group mailbox because I cannot access it.

        My question remains – how can I access the group mailbox?

        The answer seems to be by “unhiding” the group from Exchange clients – how do I do that?

      6. Thank you – the article in the link explains why I cannot add the recently created groups, but why there are some weird groups on the list that could be added.

        I agree with the statement in the article that having all groups pull through to Outlook can be confusing and cause problems for those technically challenged or struggling with admin.

        Unfortunately that does not solve my problem – the problem being that, not having access to the group mailbox means that not all meeting replies are accessible, and so miscommunication is prone to occur. Hopefully Microsoft can change the software that at least team owners (or software admins?) can have a setting for making groups visible; or even just make sure that the meeting organiser get every mail relating to the meeting they organised.

        Anyway, thank you for you patience. Let me see if our software admin can access the tenant to get the groups visible.

      7. I’ve had a discussion with some engineers and think the problem is now understood. I’m gathering more information and might post on this topic next week.

  14. Hi Tony –

    Regarding your update posted at the top of this article:

    “Update May 15: In Office 365 Notification MC213330, Microsoft announced that the attendee picker used by the Teams calendar app now includes Exchange Online distribution groups and Microsoft 365 Groups. In other words, you can add these recipients to meetings scheduled in Teams in the same way as you can in Outlook.”

    I saw this and was like, “Hallelujah, we’ll finally be able to invite all team members to a Teams meeting by using the email address of the backing Microsoft 365 Group (nee’ Office 365 Group), and they will individually receive email invites that they can RSVP using Outlook….but alas, as I try this, I can’t seem to add the actual group corresponding to the Team. The people picker just doesn’t find it. Other groups and distro lists autocomplete and are found, but just not the email address for this group. I’m wondering if this is perhaps because the M365 group for the team is hidden?

    Bob

      1. Thank you Tony, and I’m assuming the same, so thank you for confirming. It seems completely counterproductive for this particular feature – “let’s enable people to invite groups to a teams meeting, but don’t let them easily invite the actual team group itself because we’ve hidden that!”.

        Call me a nut, but I would think that one of the most obvious use cases for a channel meeting would be to send RSVP-able invites to the Team members easily, but of course, MS doesn’t always consider obvious use cases when they design products :-/

        As always thanks for your blog/info/content – it continues to be best of breed for all of MS 365.

      2. I did a little testing this morning and established that a) if the group is hidden, Teams doesn’t show you it in its picker (just to confirm), but b) if you know the email address of the group, you can add that (something like mygroup@mydomain.com). This is bizarre and weird, and I will bring it to the attention of the developers,.

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