Feature in Preview Now
Message Center notification MC261530 (June 11) delivers a new way for participants in Teams meetings to see messages. Instead of having to open a chat window, Teams will post the messages in “bubbles” superimposed on the meeting’s main screen (Figure 1).
According to Microsoft 365 roadmap item 65948, “Chats sent during a Teams meeting will surface on the screens of all meeting participants, making the chat more central to the conversation.” The feature is currently available in preview and due for release in mid-July. For now, chat bubbles are only available for the Teams desktop client on Windows and Mac. There’s no word when they might appear in the mobile or browser clients.
No Bubbles Please
You don’t have to see chat bubbles if you don’t want to. Simply select the Don’t show chat bubbles option from the […] menu (Figure 2) and Teams will suppress the bubbles (burst the bubbles?). Teams also suppresses bubbles if you have a separate chat window open. This is an individual user-level choice. Meeting organizers have no control over whether participants use chat bubbles.
To reverse the process, choose Show chat bubbles from the menu.
Using Chat Bubbles
My experience of using chat bubbles is mixed and depends on factors such as:
- The number of meeting participants. The more people involved in a discussion, the busier the screen and the more distracting chat bubbles can be.
- The topic being discussed. If the meeting is a briefing with an occasional question, a chat bubble is a good way of asking questions of the presenter. As there aren’t too many questions, the presenter can handle the chats as they arise.
- Company culture. Some organizations run very structured meetings and use chat for clearly defined purposes such as asking questions, posting information to share with participants (like web site links), and noting follow-up items. Others run looser meetings with plenty of cut-and-thrust debate in chat, not all of which is pertinent to the topic. While there’s nothing wrong with some fun, a blizzard of bubbles is ultra-distracting during a presentation or when other information is shared.
Like live reactions (icons posted to show emotion during Teams meetings), when something is overused, it loses its effectiveness. And when chat bubbles get too much, I simply open the chat window and leave the messages accumulate there. I don’t disable chat bubbles as I do want to keep an eye on what’s happening, just in case something interesting pops up. Some people I know never look at chat during meetings and instead review the full chat afterwards.
You don’t have to use chat bubbles. It’s just another way of surfacing information during meetings. I expect that we will all find our own way to using (or ignoring) chat bubbles, just like we’ve adapted to the other Teams features delivered since its launch in 2016.
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