Teams Meeting Templates: Helping to Organize Better Meetings

Teams Meeting Templates are part of Teams Premium

Now that Microsoft considers Teams Premium to be generally available, it’s appropriate to investigate some of the functionality enabled by the new product to see if it’s worth the $10/month/user fee. In The 30-day trial license for Teams Premium remains available.

Microsoft has introductory pricing for Teams Premium of $7/month/user until June 30, 2023, possibly because some of the features aren’t yet available. For example, branded meetings won’t be available until mid-February and the much-hyped intelligent meeting recap powered by GPT 3.5 is scheduled for sometime in the second quarter of 2023. Given the delay, you might want to wait before testing.

Managing Teams Meeting Templates

Meeting templates are available now. These are essentially policies to apply to meetings to control settings that are otherwise set by the meeting organizer. The idea is to speed up meeting creation by using templates. A new meeting inherits options from the template used.

Management of meeting templates is through the Meetings section of the Teams admin center. Figure 1 shows that the organization has four custom templates and one default (for virtual appointments).

Teams meeting templates listed in the Teams admin center

Teams Premium
Figure 1: Teams meeting templates listed in the Teams admin center

The process of creating and editing templates proceeds in the same way as managing other Teams objects. The only odd thing I encountered is the ability to create meeting templates with duplicate names. Although each template has a unique identifier, having multiple templates with the same display name is likely to confuse users.

Meeting Templates and Sensitivity Labels

When you create a new meeting template, you can set values for a range of meeting options, including using a sensitivity label. You don’t have to choose a sensitivity label, but if you do, the template inherits settings from the label and locks them against change (Figure 2), meaning that meeting organizers cannot change these settings for individual meetings. You can also lock settings in templates that don’t use a sensitivity label.

Some settings in a Teams meeting template are locked by a sensitivity label
Figure 2: Some settings in a Teams meeting template are locked by a sensitivity label

The control a sensitivity label exerts over a meeting template is similar to the way sensitivity labels manage containers (sites, teams, and groups). Using a sensitivity label in a meeting template does not mean that Microsoft Information Protection will encrypt the meeting and its associated artifacts (attached files, attendance report, and so on).

Configuring Sensitivity Labels for Teams Meeting Templates

Before a sensitivity label can be used with a meeting template, administrators must configure it with Teams settings (Figure 3). These are the settings inherited by a meeting template from the sensitivity label.

Editing the Teams settings for a sensitivity label
Figure 3: Editing the Teams settings for a sensitivity label

Sensitivity labels with Teams settings are tagged with “meetings” when listed in the Information Protection section of the Microsoft Purview Compliance portal. If you want, you can find the set of labels available for Teams by running this PowerShell snippet:

[array]$Labels = Get-Label
$TeamsLabels = [System.Collections.Generic.List[Object]]::new() 
ForEach ($Label in $Labels) { 
    If ($Label.ContentType -Like "*Teamwork*") { # It's a label for Teams
      $DataLine = [PSCustomObject] @{
        LabelId     = $Label.ImmutableId
        DisplayName = $Label.DisplayName
        Priority    = $Label.Priority } 
      $TeamsLabels.Add($DataLine) } 
$Output = $ContainerLabels.DisplayName -Join ", "
Write-Output ("These labels support Teams Meetings {0}:" -f $Output)

Meeting Template Policy

Users gain access to meeting templates through the meeting template policy assigned to their accounts. The default meeting template policy for the organization allows access to all templates, but you can create policies to restrict access to specific templates. For example, you could have a policy allowing access to a set of templates that’s assigned to members of a certain department.

When planning meeting templates and the policies used to publish templates to users, it’s a good idea to focus on a scheme that gives users an appropriate amount of choice. If you use a single policy to publish 10 templates to users, people might find it difficult to select the right template for a meeting. Three or four templates is a practical number to aim for.

Creating Meetings from a Template

To create a meeting from a template, select the template from the list revealed by the down arrow beside the New meeting button (Figure 4). Teams creates a new meeting and populates its options from the template settings.

Selecting a template to create a Teams meeting
Figure 4: Selecting a template to create a Teams meeting

Apart from the number of templates shown here, the importance of good template names becomes apparent. For instance, what’s the difference between a confidence meeting and a secure meeting or a private meeting? Differences may well exist in terms of the settings meetings inherit from each template, but it’s hard for users to differentiate between the templates.

Meetings created using templates have their options set. The options that the organizer cannot change have a lock icon to indicate their status (Figure 5). Other options can be amended as usual.

A Teams meeting created from a template inherits settings
Figure 5: A Teams meeting created from a template inherits settings

Apart from having predetermined options, meetings created from templates work in the same way as do regular meetings.

The Promise of Templates

Microsoft says that meeting templates reduce “the time and thought process it takes to create and get the meeting right.” And “With templates, leaders can ensure that their meetings adhere to company best practices and policies.” I never expended too many brain cells when creating Teams meetings in the past, but I see value in applying standards to specific types of meetings. Whether that’s worth the extra license fees is a different matter. But I suspect that meeting templates will not be the key functionality that justifies an organization buying Teams Premium.

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