Microsoft Teams is a tool for collaboration, and an important aspect of this is having meetings. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, home-working has received a huge boost, as have online Teams meetings, which are either fully online or in a mixed mode. In so-called ‘hybrid meetings’ some participants are physically present in the meeting room while others take an active part via Teams.
In order to allow online participants to take an active part, new features have been added. Presenters can launch Quick polls share a whiteboard, ‘live reactions’ can be shared on the screen during presentations, and in addition to the chat a moderated Q&A can be activated to allow participants to discretely react and/or ask questions.
On the one hand, this requires an effort to learn how to use the Microsoft meeting tool effectively and, on the other, we also expect Teams to offer a streamlined, intuitive user-experience. In that respect, we would like to highlight some interesting features that Microsoft recently added to Teams.
A wide range of emojis in meeting chat
An emoji (or emoticon/smiley) can be added to your chat message to show other participants how you feel about what you wrote. The number of emojis that are now available in the chat has increased considerably.
You can also use emojis to share ‘live reactions’ on the screen and virtually applaud, at the end of a presentation.
Reacting on post-its in Whiteboard
Sharing a whiteboard in a Teams meeting is a great way of sharing thoughts. In the updated interface, ‘reactions’ are already enabled; you can put these reactions on the canvas as a separate object. However, when you ‘like’ a post-it and this post-it is moved, the ‘like’ does not automatically move with it. For this reason, Microsoft has now provided ‘contextual reactions’, which means that you can add a ‘like’ (or a doubtful face :-)) as part of a post-it.
You can see the number of likes received and who has added them.
Making notes on the shared screen
When sharing a screen in a meeting, Whiteboard functionalities are now available. You can allow participants to annotate. You can activate live annotations using the pen icon in the top bar.
Hit the gear icon to access Settings and decide whether everyone may participate and if so, whether other people’s cursors should be visible (collaborative cursors).
Together mode for everyone
It can be nice to have participants appear in a specific environment during a meeting (e.g. in an a lecture hall), this feature is called ‘Together mode’. Be aware that Together mode only works for people having their camera switched on. From now on, ‘Together mode’ is no longer a personal setting. As the organiser or presenter of a Teams meeting, you can set this up for all participants. This update improves the interactive aspect and sense of proximity during online meetings.
Adjust your video and apply filters
As the presenter, once you have your camera switched on, you can choose how and where you are shown on the screen that you are sharing, e.g. to the left or right of the content. This also applies to the Standout*, Reporter or Side-by-side layout. You can also adjust the size of your camera image.
*In PowerPoint Live, you can only choose ‘Content only’ or ‘Standout’.
You can also use a ‘Soft focus’ filter (a kind of anti-wrinkle feature ;-)) and, if the lighting is bad, you can use ‘Adjust brightness’ to ensure that you are clearly visible.
Process the recording of your meeting
Are there multiple speakers during an online presentation? You can now split the recording into ‘Chapters’ and, allow viewers to quickly navigate to a specific part of the presentation. These chapters must first be activated in Video settings.
You can now add your own image as a thumbnail of your recording.
Finally, remember that meeting recordings are only available temporarily. All newly created Teams meeting recordings will have a default expiration of 120 days. If you wish, you can change the expiry date or completely cancel it in order to have your recording available without any time limitations.
Fancy more useful tips for Teams? Follow our blog or sign up to one of our Teams courses!