Teams Boasts New Capabilities for Meeting Polls

One of the more useful features available to Teams meeting organizers and presenters is the ability to run polls during meetings. On March 12, message center notification MC244304 advised that poll creation would soon be AI-enhanced, something that’s so good that it warrants three separate Microsoft 365 roadmap items (79493, 79494, and 79495). The change rolled out in late March. So much other change has happened since that it’s only now I get to comment on this update.

Artificial Intelligence for Everything

Microsoft is applying liberal doses of artificial intelligence to many aspects of Microsoft 365 these days. In this case, they say that the AI will minimize the time and effort required to create polls for Teams meetings. Polls never took much time to create in the first place, but the new AI-powered polls will be even easier because the AI will suggest:

  • Specific polls based upon the title of the meeting (roadmap item 79493).
  • Specific polls based upon those that they have previously created (roadmap item 79494).
  • Suggested multiple-choice answers based on new poll questions (roadmap item 79495).

In other words, when an organizer calls the Forms app to create a new poll for a meeting, the AI leaps into action to figure out if it can be helpful.

Testing AI Suggestions

To test what happens, I created a new poll in a meeting held to discuss the rest Exchange Server problems. The AI ignored the meeting title, perhaps because it was long and complicated, but leapt into action when I composed the first question (Figure 1).

Microsoft's AI suggests some helpful answers to a poll question
Figure 1: Microsoft’s AI suggests some helpful answers to a poll question

It seems like the AI suggested poll responses based on the “how often” phrase in the question. Apart from “Never,” the resulting suggestions weren’t all that helpful when put into the context of Exchange Server. Quarterly would have been a good suggestion based on Microsoft issuing quarterly cumulative updates, but you get the idea.

I’m unsure whether this will save any real time in composing polls but will reserve judgement until how I see things work over multiple events and polls.

Guest and Mobile Support

Message center notification MC245021 issued on March 17 brings news of further improvements for the Forms app in Teams. In this instance, the forms app supports anonymous users and mobile access, as per Roadmap item 79448, with the roll-out expected in mid-April.

Up to now, polls in meetings have only been available to signed in attendees (tenant and guest accounts). Now people who sign into meetings as anonymous guests will be able to access polls. This is important for the new Teams webinar functionality as many webinars involve some form of polling to gauge audience reaction to topics.

In addition, a Teams meeting organizer or presenter can now create a poll and launch polls using the Teams mobile client. I’m unsure whether this is a facility which will be used often as my experience is that most organizers run meetings from the Teams desktop or browser client, and even more so when polls are involved (Figure 2).

Viewing a set of polls created for a Teams meeting
Figure 1: Viewing a set of polls created for a Teams meeting

However, if you’re caught out and can’t get back to your workstation, you’ll now be able to compose a new poll with the Teams mobile client and then launch it during a meeting, maybe even using the reduced data mode to make sure that the Teams mobile client doesn’t chew through your cell phone monthly data allowance.

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