Two new features will help users enjoy Microsoft Teams meetings better. Or at least, improve the “user experience” by removing some irritations people currently have during meetings. The first allows users to suppress notifications arriving during meetings. The second hides a user’s video feed from their view to remove what seems to be a distraction for many. I’ve already disabled notifications for meetings. Maybe you should do the same?
Among the changes Microsoft postponed to January is the introduction of a new unmute keyboard shortcut for meetings. While I lik shortcuts generally, this one doesn’t seem to make much sense, especially because an existing keyboard shortcut is available to toggle mute on and off during meetings. In any case, if you don’t want to use the shortcut, you can disable it in Teams settings. To each their own…
Microsoft has released support for background effects for Teams browser clients. It seems like only Microsoft-curated background images (including blur) works and that you can’t use organization images or custom uploaded images. This might just be a timing issue and Microsoft will enable this functionality in the future. For those who like using the Teams browser client to join meetings, this is a nice solution.
The Nostalgia set of Teams background images includes Office Clippy, the famous Bliss image used for the Windows XP desktop, and images of Paint and Solitaire. These are only part of the wide selection of suitable images to use as background effects in Teams meetings. And if you’ve got a great image to share, you can upload it to the Microsoft Gallery for others to use.
Teams meeting organizers will soon be able to configure an option to start recording when the meeting starts. The option must be set for each meeting and there doesn’t seem to be an available method to preconfigure recordings for all meetings through a policy or programmatically. The new option is useful, if you remember to set it.
Now rolling out to Office 365 tenants, Teams meeting organizers can review the attendance data for meetings and webinars in a new dashboard. The same data can be downloaded to a CSV file for analysis. Teams stores the attendance report data in the Exchange Online mailbox of the meeting organizer. It’s a good example of the Microsoft 365 substrate in use.
A new control allows organizers of Teams meetings to disable videos for attendees before or during calls. Organizers and presenters can also selectively enable video for specific attendees. It’s probable that this feature will be most interesting to those who want to run webinars through Teams meetings, but other use cases exist too… like when someone turns up with an objectionable background image!
A new feature allows Teams meeting organizers to lock a meeting and stop attendees joining. This isn’t a feature for “normal” meetings. Instead, it’s there to protect the privacy of confidential meetings and is the online meeting equivalent of locking the doors to a conference room. Get everyone you want into the meeting and then set up a barrier to joining. Who wouldn’t like that!
A report saying that Teams would record every meeting automatically caused some concern, but it’s untrue. Instead, ISV solutions are available to allow companies which need to record meetings to create compliance policies to assign to specific users so that their meetings are recorded to meet legal or regulatory requirements. It would be nice to be able to update meeting options so that organizers could opt for automatic recording of certain meetings. Maybe that’s what Microsoft meant when they responded to a User Voice request. No doubt, time will tell.
Teams meeting organizers can control which participants can bypass the meeting lobby to join automatically, Microsoft has increased the set of available lobby options to handle a range of conditions from all-comers calls to those to discuss sensitive and confidential information. Here’s a quick review of the available options and what each does.
Organizers of Teams meetings can create polls to use during their event. The polls now boast some AI capabilities to help organizers choose the right questions. Organizers can also create and launch polls using the Teams mobile client. This seems to be taking mobility a little further than you might want to use it, but I guess some people run meetings from large iPad devices.
Users of the Teams mobile clients can now choose background images for their meetings, including custom backgrounds from their device’s camera roll. The implementation works well as long as the image you want is in your camera roll. Not being able to browse other repositories is a small gripe about a feature that many users will welcome.
Teams meetings include a neat Private Preview feature to allow users to see what their video feed will look like if they enable their camera. All good, except that a strange blog post feels that user privacy might be compromised. In my opinion, that view is a load of rubbish. Private Preview is a very worthwhile feature and a little training can make sure that no one is ever surprised by their video geed appearing unexpectedly in a Teams meeting.
Microsoft plans to make the Dynamic View feature available for Teams meetings in mid-March. The signs are that the enhanced presentation of meeting content will make attending meetings a tad more engaging. Not much can be done with visual tweaks to rescue boring meetings where presenters drone on about stuff they should cover in a few minutes, but maybe the changes made by Dynamic View will brighten attendee spirits, We can but hope.
Attendees of Teams meetings now have the ability to share their opinion of the proceedings through live reactions, a set of emoticons ranging from thumbs-up to laugh. Reactions appear on attendee cards or float up from the bottom of the screen when material is beiing shared. Tenants can disable reactions uising Teams meeting policies, but meeting organizers can change meeting settings to allow reactions in specific events. Although it seems like a feature that doesn’t add much for a business user, reactions have their place – if used intelligently!
Now deployed to Office 365 tenants, large Teams meetings can support up to 20,000 view-only attendees, if an organization chooses to update its Teams meeting policies. Interestingly, this is a feature which Microsoft originally planned to license under its Teams advanced communication add-on, but the growth of large meetings in organizations might have forced their hand to bring the feature to mainline Teams.
Microsoft has updated the format of the Teams attendance report to include more data about who attends meetings. The new report is persistent and available after a meeting ends. The new format will no doubt be popular with teachers who need to track who attends their online classes, but it’s likely to be also popular in the enterprise for those who organize meetings with mandatory attendance.
Teams meeting notes are a form of the Teams wiki with much the strengths and weaknesses of the wiki. Good enough for small meetings but limited for larger gatherings when you’ll probably want to capture details using a tool like Word or OneNote.
A new setting for Teams meetings allows organizers to limit the ability to bypass the meeting lobby to people explicitly invited to the meeting. Precise control is important when you set up meetings to review confidential or sensitive data. After all, you don’t want anyone who gets a copy of the meeting link turning up to listen in to what’s going on.
Long-term Outlook users have probably noticed that they can’t attach files in events created as Teams meetings. Teams like cloudy files, not email attachments, so if you want to send some important information along with a meeting invitation, you can include links to the data or paste it into the body of the invitation. And once the meeting is created, you can share files with meeting participants, which is really the Teams way of getting the job done.
Outlook for Windows has the option to make Teams online meetings the default for all new meetings. Users can edit meeting settings through Outlook too. Unlike the other Outlook clients, Outlook for Windows depends on a registry setting to control whether an online event should be created. And there’s no support for third-party meeting platforms.
Bing publishes a new image daily in its home page. You can download the images and use them as custom background for Teams meetings. A PowerShell script automates the task and downloads the images for the last seven days and cleans up any Bing images older than 30 days.. It’s a nice way to use some attractive images to liven up Teams meetings.
Organizers and presenters of Teams meetings can add simple polls created with Microsoft Forms to collect feedback and information during meetings. It’s a small but useful improvement which will add value to many meetings in the education and other sectors.
A recurring meeting is a series of events. For Teams, each event might be different, but all events share the same online workspace. The advantage for this approach is that the participants see resources shared for all meetings; the downside is exactly the same because some people might not want this to happen.
Two recent updates released for Microsoft Teams gives users the ability to set a duration for their presence status and five-minute end of meeting notifications. The notifications are just a nagging prompt that the meeting will end soon. It doesn’t mean that everyone will be forced out of the meeting when the five minutes expire, even if you’d like this to be the case.
The Teams Meeting add-in for Outlook schedules online private Teams meetings. A recent update for Outlook for Windows allows meeting settings to be changed. It’s a logical and useful update to allow people who prefer to work in Outlook to maintain their meetings without needing to go to the Teams calendar app.
Teams depends on Microsoft 365 groups. You can add groups as meeting attendees and expect that members of those groups will receive meeting invitations. But they won’t unless you update group settings to force Office 365 to send invitations to all members. The job is easily done with PowerShell, and we show how in this post.
Microsoft Teams allows meeting organizers to control if attendees can unmute themselves during meetings with a new control introduced in October 2020. The new control is likely to be more popular in education settings than in the corporate world, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to take control and stop someone speaking.
Microsoft announced that Teams meetings will support breakout rooms in Q4 2020 for commercial, education, and GCC Office 365 tenants. The new feature allows up to 50 sub-meetings (breakout rooms) to be created from a meeting. The meeting organizer can then assign people to rooms, which then host discussions. The rooms can be started and closed as needed, and participants in each room can share information with each other just like a regular Teams meeting.
Microsoft has spruced up the Teams meeting pre-join screen to gather all the settings that participants can use to configure their audio and video for a meeting. The browser interface is slightly different because browsers don’t support background effects. The new screens are better than before and are a good example of how to apply rationalization and simplification to UX design.
In a surprise update, Microsoft announced that Teams meetings now use persistent background effects. Once you choose an effect, Teams will use it in meetings when video is enabled. It’s a small but nice change that will help users. We need more of this kind of update across Office 365.
Teams meeting organizers can download a participant report to note who attends a meeting and when they were present. If you forget to download a report while the meeting is active, you’ll have to make up the attendance roster, and that would be a bad thing.
Microsoft is raising the limit for Teams meetings and group chats to 350 participants. The group chat limit was increased to 250 in early May. The new increase is temporary and Microsoft will review it in September to decide whether to keep it at 350. The update is already rolling out and should be available worldwide in mid June.
Microsoft is updating the Teams default meeting policy to enforce lobby entry for external users. Sounds good, but what does this mean? This post explains what happens and how Microsoft is able to update the default meeting policy for many tenants while not affecting the tenants who have customized their default meeting policy.
Need to be noticed in a Teams meeting? You can now raise your hand (virtually) to attract the attention of meeting participants. No one might notice, but at least you’ve tried. To some, this might be a small feature. To others, like teachers facing large classes, it might be a real boon.
Recent developments sees the ability to stop Teams users updating their photos by enforcing controls in OWA mailbox policies. Organizers can stop Teams meetings without waiting for everyone to leave with a new End meeting option in the meeting menu. Both changes are rolling out.
Teams supports the selection of an image to use as the background for meetings. For now, you can choose from a set of images selected by Microsoft, but soon users will be able to upload their own images and use them in Teams meetings. While we wait for Microsoft to complete some work on admin framework to control image upload, a workaround is available to use custom images today.
Despite many hints that Teams will soon be able to use custom backgrounds in meetings, Microsoft hasn’t shipped the feature yet. Some users are trying out software like Snap Camera, and the experience is highlighting some issues that companies might face if employees use custom filters without guidance.
Microsoft Teams now supports roles for meetings. You can assign the presenter role to specific participants, who then have rights to present and other actions, like recording the meeting. Everyone who’s not a presenter is an attendee. These folk stay nice and quiet and listen to what’s going on and all the good information shared by the presenters.