Teams meeting recipes

Since the start of this year, many extra controls have arrived in Teams meetings. We all remember the stories from early lockdown of students muting the teacher, or removing other students from the meeting, just because every Teams meeting was a free-for-all by default, which is of course excellent for regular business collaboration (its original purpose), but less than perfect for other situations.

By now there are a lot of extra ingredients to create a Teams meeting that is exactly suited for purpose:

Lobby, presenter/attendee roles and muting options.

As we have a lot of different meeting types, and I am often asked for advice on how to set up a particular type of meeting, please allow me to share a few “recipes” for different types of meetings, from “no boundaries” to “tightly controlled”.

1. The recurring team/update meeting

These (default) settings are perfect for a recurring meeting for a well-established team. Within my own team we have these settings for our 3-times-a-week-meeting. We mostly talk, but occasionally share screens so it is nice if we all can do that when needed. We only use special features to test them if they are new (we used Spotlight a few times this week), or for the occasional prank. Everyone knows how to mute that colleague whose dog starts barking, and everyone does that when needed.

Who can bypass the lobby? People in my organization

Who can present? Everyone

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes

2. The formal meeting

This is usually a one-off, carefully planned meeting with known and sometimes unknown business partners. As it generally does not have too many people present and should be collaborative, everyone will need to be able to speak, but not necessarily present or do anything else that a presenter can do.
If it is a recurring meeting with known externals, you may want to remove the lobby barrier, but I do not think any external contact will feel offended if they have to wait until someone admits them.
If plans need to be discussed, screen sharing will be more important than Spotlighting the speaker. (It’s one or the other; if you Spotlight someone their presentation will be just another tile in your gallery of people present.)

Who can bypass the lobby? People in my organization (occasionally: Everyone)

Who can present? Specific people

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes

3. The group therapy session

As mentioned earlier, we allow Teams to be used for group therapy sessions as long as in-person sessions are not feasible and our preferred tool can not accommodate larger groups. These sessions are led by one or more of our therapists, and attended by clients, who are externals.
The therapists need to be able to take measures when the group is too noisy or needs to focus their attention, so the occasional Mute All (with the option that a client can unmute) will be helpful, as will the Spotlight option to focus attention to a therapist. This will also reduce visual clutter and movement, as some clients are sensitive to that.

Who can bypass the lobby? People in my organization or Only Me, provided the therapist is the organizer (but that is not always the case).

Who can present? People in my organization

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes

4. The large team event

The autumn season always has a lot of large meetings, both as a get-together for teams after the summer holiday period, and as a starting point for plans for the year ahead. We have recently seen a lot of virtual get-togethers for these purposes.
As these sessions often contain many people, and generally need to discuss too many topics in too little time, control is needed. As are breakout rooms!
Spotlights can be useful to highlight a speaker, as well as Mute all.

Who can bypass the lobby? Only Me or People in my organization.

Who can present? Specific people.

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes.

5. The seminar, lecture, training, speech

Our education season has also started again, and with it the need to do this online. Now that Hard Mute is available, smaller events may be done in a Teams meeting rather than in a Live Event. For questions, you can use chat or allow unmuting after each lecture. Spotlight may be useful for a speech.
The Live Event has some advantages: the moderated Q&A, the option to see the presenter next to their slides, the fact everyone can focus on the presenter and they are not distracted by the videos or pictures of other attendees, etc. but for each event you could balance the easy setup of the Teams meeting versus the more complicated formality of the Live Event.

Who can bypass the lobby? Everyone (for education events) or People in my organization (for an internal speech).

Who can present? Specific people.

Allow attendees to unmute: No.

Conclusions

The new options are valuable additions to the existing toolkit. I especially like the option of Hard Mute, as it may allow some events to be done in a Teams meeting rather than in a Live Event.

I am looking forward to making everyone aware of these new features, and helping organizers to mix the various options to make their own event the best possible experience.

Oh yes, and we are all SO looking forward to the break-out rooms!!!

6 more lessons from Teams Live Events

After producing two Live Events for our “Convention bureau”, and sharing the lessons learned, I thought I knew it all!
So for another event, I handed over the producer role to the organization. One of our psychiatric nurses was eager to try it. I briefed him and his presenter colleagues, told them how it works, what to do and what to think of during presenting.

I told them that switching presenters was a bit of work, as you can not “line up” the next presentation properly and wait for the proper time to make it live. (Presenters overwrite each other, so changes of presenter are messier than I had expected)

But they already had a solution.

1. Switch less by making one big presentation

That was clever. They collected all research slides as well as the intro and break slides into one big PowerPoint, and shared that on one laptop. As the presenters were in one room, it meant that each presenter in turn walked up to the laptop, cleaned keyboard and mouse (COVID-19!) and gave their presentation. The producer only had to switch layouts to start and end each break.
This can certainly not be done in every situation, but it worked here and made the producer’s work much easier.

2. You can not organize a Live Event with a F3 license

After my run-through, the producer wanted to create the Live Event, but he did not have the option.
That was an unpleasant surprise, but it was later confirmed in the Microsoft information.

If you have an F3 license, you do not see the dropdown option to create a Live Event

As it turned out, you can produce and present with the F3 license, as long as you use the desktop app. Everyone in my organization has the desktop app, which makes things a lot easier.

3. Attendee’s devices may go to sleep during a long break

I have not seen this myself, but apparently, after a 30-min break, the “crew” got some messages that people had to go into the meeting again because their devices had gone to sleep.

4. The attendee report of public events does not show names

The first two events were scheduled as in-company events, where people had to log on. The attendee report then shows the log-in names of attendees.

However, our Convention Bureau really wanted public events as there are often externals who like to join, e.g. teachers or peer organizations. When they switched to a public event, they expected the same type of attendee report and they were disappointed to see only IP-addresses and no names. Which is a bit of a no-brainer as you just click the link to a public event, without having to specify your name, but they had not thought of that.

The attendee reports are needed to give our students “study points” so I suggested to use a Form to collect attendee names, with the following process:

  • employees only
  • record names
  • one question (e.g. satisfaction with the event until now, or any other question, as long as you get the name)
  • limited time to complete, using expiry date and time the same as, or earlier than, the event end time (to minimize the chance of foul play πŸ™‚ )
  • distributed via the Q&A in a break with an explanatory message
These could be the settings to collect attendance from employees

5. Externals with a Microsoft365 account can present

If you have any external presenters (we have them frequently, e.g. university professors) who have a Microsoft365 account from their employer: they can present, as long as that account has been invited and they use the desktop app. And I think they also need to be a guest in your tenant, but I will need to check that.
This same account (a guest) can also produce the event, but needs to be admitted by an internal presenter/producer, so you will always need at least one internal presenter.

6. Externals without a Microsoft365 account can not present

So it makes sense to check with any external presenters if they have a Microsoft365 account – an Outlook.com email address is not sufficient. In case this happens, they may need to present from someone else’s laptop.

Expect more lessons!

As we will have to live with the COVID-19 measures for some time, I expect we will use Live Events more and more. I also expect more lessons as we have a number of event types that need to be moved online.

Some intranet promotion videos – part 5

My video collection has not seen many additions recently because List.ly still does not have their Vimeo API sorted out. 😒 And the best videos are on Vimeo. 😭

I now have to think how to proceed. Stop collecting videos, make one collection on YouTube and one on Vimeo, or move my collection to the 4th platform in 9 years? (I have used Delicious, Scoop.it, List.ly)? Which platform, and dare I ask my husband to do the work again? πŸ™‚

I will let you know. In the meantime, here’s some nice stuff I found last week:

1. IntoWork, Australia

Very nice, but short, teaser/demo (silent) for a mobile intranet. Do you see the name in the blocks? Really cool and apparently they use Office365 too. There’s not much more to see, so no way to know if this is a good intranet.
IntoWork is a community for recruitment, employment and education. Uploaded: September 2020

2. Hospital Sant Joan de DΓ©u, Barcelona, Spain

Another SharePoint/Office365 intranet, always nice to see those! πŸ™‚

This one is a long demo (silent) for a hospital in Barcelona, Spain, and it is in Catalan language. Ah, that takes me back to the times when I worked from “my Barcelona office”. Nice colour scheme, all the usual topics, and lot of documents. Even the organigrams are in documents, while you should be able to get them live from Delve or many other places.
I like their document management system and will need to check that out, as we may start a project soon.
Uploaded September 2020.

3. EstΓ©e Lauder Companies, USA – teaser

Very slick teaser for the launch of the new digital workplace for EstΓ©e Lauder Companies, which has been launched this week. Uploaded September 2020.

4. EstΓ©e Lauder Companies, USA – demo

Ultra-short demo for the new intranet for EstΓ©e Lauder Companies. “My ELC beta, your digital destination for everything ELC”. Cool! It complements video #3 but I guess you got that. Uploaded September 2020.

5. Teaser for ?

Apparently there have been many new intranet launches this week, because this organization has gotten a new one too! It does not mention the organization, but I think it is in financial services. I like the bold style, and it goes with the blog image ! 🍿 😁 Uploaded September 2020.

See Microsoft365 live – at Digital Workplace 24 Live!

On September 30/October 1 it is time again for Digital Workplace 24 Live, a free 24-hour online #intranet and #digitalworkplace (and much more) event organized by Digital Workplace Group.

It has been going on from 2008 and it was the first event of its kind. Over the years I have enjoyed every single event, as there are many live tours of intranets, and you get to hear from many interesting people in the field. Actually, one interview inspired me to work six weeks from Spain some years ago, as my work can be done from any place. By now all of us know that, but at that time I still had to convince my then manager that working from another location would not make any difference to my contacts in China, the USA, Sweden or Brazil. πŸ™‚

Why am I telling you this?

Because there will be a lot of real-life Microsoft365 in Digital Workplace 24 Live, whether it is SharePoint, Teams, Yammer or all of them. And you will see it from the business perspective, not “just” from the functionality perspective that we Microsoft365 geeks usually focus on. πŸ™‚

Which tours to expect?

I do not have the full details for each tour, but you can expect Microsoft365 aspects in at least the following:

  • Oxfam
  • Velux who have an Office365 digital workplace. They have a lovely over the top introduction video!
  • Fidelity
  • KBC group
  • UPMC
  • Duke Energy
  • HAVI, who had a nice intranet introduction video in my collection, but that has been removed 😦
  • St. John Ambulance
  • ING
  • ZSL – Zoological Society of London

And I expect there will be more but those have not been published on the schedule yet.

Besides, Microsoft folks Morten Dal and Brad Grissom will also be studio guests. And if you need more reasons, this post lists twelve reasons to attend. Why not organize a viewing party for your team or be a Tweeter-in-residence?
So, what’s keeping you? You can register here – and did I mention it is free?

Please note: I do freelance work for Digital Workplace Group. I have written this post because I genuinely love the event and would like to spread the word. I have not been been asked to do it, nor am I paid for it.

About that Microsoft/Office365 homepage…

While I have been trying to adjust to the new vertical rail of apps (and I still do NOT like it) I came across something – which may be in the Roadmap but I have not seen it yet.

A line next to the app icon

Some apps get a vertical line next to them when you are on their landing page, to signify where you are. It is comparable to the line under open apps in your Task bar.
I have seen it on Excel, Forms, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word, the Homepage itself and the All apps page.

Homepage
Forms
Word

Nice detail: The All apps icon changes colour when clicked and the Homepage icon turns black at that time – and the other way around.

All Apps” changes colour when clicked

So, does this mean that this will be applied to all apps? Could that be the reason of the upcoming redesign of the SharePoint landing page – to make room for the app rail? The Lists app landing page appears ready for this, but Outlook, Planner and many more might be in for a redesign.

Other landing pages

I thought that the SharePoint landing page looked slightly different in the last few months, so I compared the image from my earlier SharePoint News posts with the current one, and it appears that the typeface has changed slightly – it is smaller, more condensed and bold. It looks very much like the letter used on the Forms landing page…so my guess is that this will be rolled out further until every app has a landing page like this.

SharePoint News looked like this in 2019
SharePoint News looks like this in 2020
And this is my Forms landing page in 2020

The “waffle” in Teams

But…there’s more!

When using the “Waffle” from the Teams web app, I noticed that the menu is different than other apps – there’s only limited apps, no documents and look what it says top right…

The Teams waffle menu – different from the others
This is the regular waffle menu

So…

It looks like more design changes are coming up!

The new Microsoft365/Office365 Homepage

Over time I have captured the various appearances of the Office365/Microsoft365 Homepage. As you may know, I quite like this page as the page where I start work.Β 

I have made all my updates in a post from 2016, which nobody sees, of course. There is a new version rolling out at the moment and I thought I’d update and republish this post. Please scroll down and get some nostalgic feelings. πŸ™‚

Update August 2020 πŸ‘‡

The new design has finally arrived at my personal tenant, but it is still a bit wobbly (on and off) in my work tenant. In case you think you need to communicate this: a 3-part explanatory popup is part of the rollout, so it should not be too much of a surprise to users.

  • All icons have moved to a left-hand side rail and are much smaller.
  • There’s a new Home icon (not sure what that does) and the + icon to create a new document looks a bit different too.
  • There’s also a new “All Apps icon”. This “floats” on the bottom of the rail, so it is always visible. Screenshots are below as the new WordPress Block Editor does not allow me to add images in a list block. 😦
  • The app names are no longer displayed, unless you hover over with your mouse, which is OK for me but may be rather daunting for new users.
  • As I have rather a lot of apps it means I need to scroll down to open some, especially when using my laptop screen.
  • Apparently the focus is on documents even more, but I do not see that as a major benefit. However, I have always liked the “Recent” and “Pinned” tabs, and so do my colleagues as they tend to lose track of their documents.
  • Still hoping for badges with the icons telling me if and how many unread messages I have in Outlook, Teams and Yammer – I prefer that over an endless slice-and-dice of documents.Β 
NewHomepageaug2020

The new Home icon:

Home and Create document icons

The new “All Apps” icon:

It’s the bottom one

Update July 2019 πŸ‘‡

The top part of the page has changed again, and now has more visibility of the + option to create a new document. I personally am not a fan of starting a document from the Office365 landing page. Navigating to the intended OneDrive or SharePoint location makes more sense to me, and is something I teach my users as they frequently complain of “losing documents”. The “Explore all your apps” link under the apps has been replaced by “All apps” next to the apps which makes sense.
And…the “Good day” message is back! Which I know is calculated and nothing personal, but I like it. 

Office365Home-July2019
Start a new document and the link to all apps are the changes for July 2019. 

The bottom part of the page has not changed.

Update February 2019 πŸ‘‡

The new icons have arrived! The “Good morning” message has disappeared, which is a pity, especially as the words “Apps” does not really add much to the party. And the Search bar is now in the top middle. I think this is the reason that the company logo has moved from this position to the left some months ago. It breaks up the nice colour gradient of my pencils though 😦

The bottom part has not changed. I am still looking for non-document updates, such as emails or notifications from Teams or Yammer.

Please scroll down for older versions of the Office365 landing page.

Office365Homepage23-02-2019
Top part of the Office365 Homepage as per 23-02-2019. New icons and the search bar is top middle.
Office365Homepage23-02-2019bottom
The bottom part has not really changed with the changes in Feb 2019.

Update February 2018 πŸ‘‡

Microsoft has recently made some changes to the Office365 Homepage. You know you will never have a dull moment when you subscribe!

The landing page now looks like the screenshots below. Compared to the last version, it has more white space and the icons are less bulky and coloured (I hope you have not created custom icons in white πŸ™‚ )

It is more gentle on the eyes than the previous design, although that may also have been my own choice of theme.

The profile photo is also better integrated into the design, and my name is displayed.

O365Home-NewTop
The new Office365 Homepage top part as from end 2017.

It now shows more than just “recent” documents, and it shows folders in OneDrive and your Frequent and Followed sites, meaning you will be able to access your favourite sites from this page. This means it is becoming more relevant as the landing page.

O365Home-NewBottom
The new Office365 Homepage bottom part as from end 2017.

My desire to see more non-document updates is still there though. I would be perfectly happy to have this as the landing page to start my working day from, but then it needs different content as well.

In my original post below you will find screenshots of the two most recent versions, as well as what I would like to see next.

Original post from June 2016 πŸ‘‡

Yesterday I logged in to my Office365 and I immediately thought : “Wow, that looks nice”. It is not often that I am struck by a beautiful page, so I decided to write about it.

This is the top of the page:NewOffice365Homepage-NewMine

NewOffice365Homepage-Bottom
And this is the bottom of the page. You can decide to show more documents.

First good impressions:

  1. The small top bar is much larger now and that really looks good. It must be my Raspberry theme, although it also looks cool with Cats πŸ™‚
  2. The welcome message is nice, although I know it is calculated from my time zone and my account. Still, it looks vibrant and cheerful.
  3. Your most recent documents are displayed underneath.
  4. You immediately see you can install software. On iPad, you can download Office apps.
NewOffice365HP-iPad
This is the new Office365 Homepage on iPad

What would I like to see as improvements?

  1. It would be nice if you could also search for other things than documents. I am trying to wean myself (and my colleagues) of documents where possible, and this does not help.
  2. That also goes for the recent documents underneath the apps. I would like to see my unread email, or my unread Yammer messages, or the Tasks due today, as well as documents. If Office365 is going to be my Digital Workplace, it should display more than just documents.
  3. A little badge on each app to show the number of unread messages, or new tasks, or something like that,  would also be nice!
  4. The coloured bar overlaps the profile picture a little, so that needs some tweaking.

And this is the page as it used to look (on a different tenant) or still looks, if you are not on First Release.

NewOffice365page-old
The “old” Homepage

All in all, I quite like this change and I think it can be made even better!

Forms is fantastic!

I wrote about the Quick Poll (Email + Form combi) a few weeks ago, but there’s more to say about Forms!

Net Promotor Score (NPS)

The other day I showed the Net Promoter Score question during a Forms webinar, told my audience how it worked and that “I honestly do not know if it is very useful” (as I hate it when I get an NPS question myself and I think I am not alone).

Immediately three people jumped in to say that it was very useful for student and intern evaluations and based on scientific evidence and that it has great predictive value. They were very interested in the results and were impressed with the fact that the calculation is built-in in Forms so you get the score without having to do any work.

So, from now on I will treat the NPS question option with a little more respect! πŸ™‚

An example of an NPS score (and not a good one)

Closed form on a SharePoint page

By accident I recently opened an old SharePoint News item in which we advertised a (now expired) series of webinars. I had embedded the Form to make it easy for people to enroll.

To my delighted surprise I saw the “this poll is closed” message from the Form displayed on the page. Neat!

Pretty neat, so people do not submit their entry in vain.

That text comes from the message that you can enter when you uncheck the box “Accept responses”, in Settings.

Useful extra option for informing your audience. This message will also be displayed if people click the link to the Form.

A new Forms landing page!

I knew that the Forms top bar would be replaced by the Office365 bar, but there have been more changes. Let me show you:

The top part of the new Forms landing page

The following changes have been made:

  • There’s a new, smaller, button to create a new Form (1). If you click the arrow, you can also create a new Quiz.
  • New title font.
  • The cards are landscape now, and smaller.
  • You land on “Recent Forms” which includes Forms that have been shared with you. This is quite nice as those are now easier to reach and they display the number of answers on the card.
  • Clicking the … on the card does NOT allow you to copy or delete the Form, you can only Pin it or remove it from this page.
  • You can Pin forms you want to keep on top; they will show in the Pinned Tab.
    Interestingly, the empty Pinned page says: “No pinned Office documents”. I know a Form is a document but it is just strange. I still do not know why my Forms are not in my OneDrive, if they are documents!
  • You have the option to show Forms in Tiles (cards) or in a list.
  • At the bottom right, just behind that “Feedback/Need Help” buttons there’s a link to All My Forms (2), which shows all your Forms.
  • If you scroll down, you will see a list of Groups with the number of Forms, if you have any.
The bottom part of the new landing page

If you click on “All My Forms” you will get to a page where you can click the … (which is now next to the title, instead of top right on the card) where you can Open in Browser, Move, Copy or Delete your Form. Next to that you will see the Deleted Forms tab.

The “My Forms” page

The Forms themselves have not changed – you will see the green Forms bar when you open or create a Form, and Theme, Sharing or Settings are still what they were.

But the behaviour has changed – Forms no longer opens in a new window from your Office365 landing page. I do not like that, I prefer to have my Office365 landing page always available.

Other than that, I am quite happy with these changes, especially the integration with Shared Forms. I was grumbling when I saw it at work, though, as I had just renewed my Forms webinar deck the day before and now I have to do it again!!! 😭

10 things about protecting documents from being overwritten

Did you know you can Protect a document in SharePoint and OneDrive from being accidentally altered or overwritten? If that has been enabled you will need to take conscious action to edit the document. Very useful for Excel files, especially when “auto-save” is on! This has been around for a few months.
Review mode is a relatively new option in SharePoint, allowing people to only make Comments in your documents, and not change the original text. Together they can be a good way to prevent accidents.

I guess you know me by now: I had to find out how these things work, also related to the permissions you have in the site.

How to protect a document

If you protect a document, you protect it against accidental changes.
Go to the document, click File > Info and then you can select “Protect document”

This is where you protect a document. The yellow bar signifies it is protected.

When you open a protected document, you see this:

When you open the document, you will get a message.

When you want to add comments or edit the file, click on OK and then “Viewing” and you will see these options:

Now you can add comments or edit

How to share a document in review mode

When you want to allow people to give feedback, but as comments only, you can share in review mode. Select the document, click Share and then click on the “People you specify can edit” link on top. This will give you the advanced sharing options. Make sure the “Open in review mode only” is toggled (as in screenshot) and click “Apply”.

Here’s how you allow comments only

This option is only available if you allow editing.
Recipients can only add comments, and can not edit the text itself, so this will keep your original text intact. This is especially helpful when many people may want to add feedback. If everyone is allowed to edit the original text, you may end up with something incomprehensible.
When you write the message to the recipient, the sharing popup will show a little icon next to the “People you specify can edit” link.

This little icon will tell you that you share as “review only”

Test programme

In one SharePoint document library I created 4 new documents from the New button:

  • Plain document as is, shared as is
  • Document with protection, shared as is
  • Plain document, shared in Review mode
  • Document with protection and Review mode

I did that for each of the following apps, both online and desktop:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote

I shared the documents with each of the following permissions:

  • Owner
  • Member (can edit)
  • Visitor (can read)
  • Someone with no access to the site

Afterwards, I repeated relevant experiments with documents in my OneDrive.

What do you need to know?

  1. You can only protect individual documents, not a complete document library.
  2. You can not protect OneNote documents, in desktop nor online nor that half-baked OneNote for Windows 10.
  3. In the desktop apps you can protect Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents against overwriting.
    (You can also use other ways of protection, but that is out-of-scope for now)
  4. In the online apps you can only protect Word and Excel, but not PowerPoint.
  5. You can protect Word and Excel files in SharePoint and OneDrive.
  6. You can only send with “review-only” in Word, not in Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote (I hope that will change).
  7. You can only send with “review-only” when you share with “people you specify” or “people in [tenant] with the link”.
  8. You can use “review-only” in Word in SharePoint and OneDrive.
  9. When you share the document from SharePoint with an external person who has no access to the site, they receive a code via mail as soon as they try to open the document. Not sure if that is a tenant setting, but I thought I’d mention it.
  10. How does a Word-document open, and which options do you have when you share the document with or without protection, with our without “review-only” and with people with various roles in your SharePoint site? See the table below. The first word is the option that the document opens with.
Full Control Edit ReadNo access
Plain documentEditing EditingEditingEditing
Protected documentViewingViewingViewingViewing
Plain document “review-only”EditingEditingReviewing,
can view,
editing greyed out
Reviewing,
can view,
editing greyed out
Protected document “review-only”ViewingViewingViewing,
can review,
editing greyed out
Viewing,
can review,
editing greyed out
Various sharing options – the first word in the cells shows the “landing” option.

What do I think?

Protecting a document can be a good way to avoid accidental changes, as it opens the document consistently in “Viewing” mode, regardless of your own role in a SharePoint site. πŸ‘
It also works on OneDrive. πŸ‘
It is not available for PowerPoint Online. πŸ‘Ž
It is per document only, while per document library might be nice as well.

The “Review Only” mode is disappointing as you can only use it on Word files. πŸ‘Ž
Additionally it allows site users with Full Control and Edit permissions to edit the original text, even if you ask for comments only. πŸ‘Ž
However, this is a useful option for sharing with people who have no access or who can only Read in your site, as they will have no permissions to Edit the original text. πŸ‘
It is also useful for sharing files on your OneDrive as everyone will be unable to edit the original text. πŸ‘

I hope there will be some developments in both functionalities, so it can be used with more file types and “people with existing access”.

Are you using this in your organization? Do you have any additional tips or lessons to share?

It’s a Poll! It’s an email! It’s a Form!

Forms may not be as hip as Teams at the moment, but it sure is a cool tool, sometimes even cooler than I thought!

Something relatively new is the option to add a Poll in an email. It is a nice option to quickly add a Choice question to your message. There is some support information out there but let me show you the full picture.

1. Create and send

When you open a new email and click on the … on the bottom of the mail (in the toolbar) you will see an option called “Poll”.

Click on the bottom of the new mail for the option to insert a poll

Click that and you will get a sidepane with a Choice question.

Enter your question and answer

Enter question and response options and click “Insert Poll into email”.

The poll will be inserted in the mail; the title of your question will be the subject line of your email (you can change that) and in the email body and you are added in the cc. If you change the name of the poll before you send it updates in both places! πŸ’ͺ

This is the email; you will get title and the link to the poll, but you can add explanatory text.

You can now type the rest of your mail and send it to your audience.

TIP: If you want to have that poll option always available in your toolbar just click the gear wheel top right > View all Outlook settings > Email > Customise actions and then scroll down to Toolbar. Check the Poll box and Save.

How to make the Poll-icon always visible at the bottom of your mails

2. Receive

So what happens when you receive an email?
The question will be displayed on top of the mail, with the options visible. This makes it easy to respond, but if you have many options in your answer, you will need to scroll to see the rest of the email.

You can see all options and vote immediately

When you have cast your vote, you will immediately see the result. You do not have to reply as your vote has been saved.

You can see if you have picked a day that others selected as well

If you happen to click the “View/vote in browser” link you will be taken to the Form in its regular format.

3. View results in email

As an owner, you can view the results from that mail. That’s why you are in the CC!

4. View results in Forms

The sender of the email is the owner of the Form, and when they go to their Forms page, they will see the Form with a poll-icon to distinguish it from a regular Form.

You can see this is an in-email poll by the poll icon

If you open it, you will see a message that you can not edit the poll.

Apparently this is called a Quick Poll and it is read-only

Limitations

  • You can only add one question
  • You can only add a Choice-type question
  • You can not edit the Form on your Forms page
  • Everyone sees the results immediately – that may be good or bad, just be aware.
  • People may forget to scroll down to see the rest of the mail 😁
  • According to the support information, this should not work well with people outside your organization, but it worked perfectly well between my Microsoft365 and private Outlook or Gmail accounts.

I can imagine this could be a good option for a quick question, without having to go and create a complete Form with all the trimmings.

Most of all, I like the integration of Forms and Outlook. It is smooth, clever and elegant.

It is also available in the Outlook desktop app but I am no fan of that.

Have you used it yet? And have you encountered a scenario where it did not work with “externals”? Let me know!

Lessons from producing my first Teams Live Event

Recently I “produced” my first Live Event in Teams: a symposium with the project presentations of three of our students.
The organisation expected around 100 attendees, so I tried to push them towards the regular Teams Meeting with some extra control measures (see my earlier post). But they really liked the moderated Q&A, so a Live Event it had to be.
As I need to learn to work with this anyway, I suggested to be the producer, so I could create procedures and scripts so they know how to do this themselves afterwards.

How a Live Event works

Scheduling a Live Event is easy, however I find being a producer quite some work. Tracy’s video makes it all appear fairly simple, but to be honest, I have been struggling a bit with this tool and needed a number of tests to get to grips with it. Perhaps it was our complex setup, perhaps I need more practice.

What have I learned?

1. Give your event a good title

When your audience is entering the event, and the event has not started, all they see is the title of the meeting. Make it a clear one.

2. The producer should just produce

Although you can be producer AND presenter, I would advise against mixing these roles unless you are an experienced one-person-show. If there is a welcome or break slide to be shared, leave it to someone else.
When you (producer) share content or your desktop you do not see your dashboard, which makes it hard to do your work as a producer. And when you go back forgetting to stop sharing you will end up with a very annoying caleidoscope effect. If you do stop sharing there will be an annoying message that the Event will continue soon. You can not win.

I am sure an experienced producer/presenter can avoid this but I still do not know how – I can share a presentation but sooner or later this shows.

3. Keep the # of presenters to a minimum

When I did my first Live Event, a number of people were interested to see how it worked so I added them as a presenter. That provided some challenges as I could not see them all on my 13″ laptop screen, hence I could not select their video to show.
Additionally, during one of the breaks one of the “curious extra’s” decided to move to another room, accidentally sharing her screen. 😱 She did not have her earbuds in, nor was she looking at the chat, so we could not warn her that her living room was visible for all to see. πŸ˜‰

The presenters are shown bottom right and on a smaller screen, you can not see them all, and therefore you can not select their video!

4. Schedule a separate Live Event as a test run

As this was new to everyone we decided to do a test-run a few days before the meeting. You need to create a new Event for that, as you can only “use” a Live Event once.

5. Have as few transitions as possible

Transitions are a bit of a logistical nightmare. I had expected that when the next presenter shares their screen, that would pop up in the Queue, so I could add the speaker’s video and set it all Live at the right moment.
But it does not happen that way – presenters generally override their predecessor’s screen during the event, causing a need for the producer to frantically switch to the correct presenter. Or, they stopped presenting and then their face filled the screen.
So try to limit the number of transitions to keep your producer’s sanity πŸ˜‰

6. Test starts, stops and transitions

We really needed this as presenters had no clue as to what to expect. So we went through the programme of welcome talk, first speaker, etc. People could practice how to share their screen, when to stop, how transitions worked, what they had to look out for, what not to do, etc.

7. Invite an attendee to ask questions

It helps to have an attendee in the test run to ask a few questions, so new presenters can learn how to handle the Q&A’s.

8. Use “desktop” rather than “content” for sharing (depending on setup)

We found that the following combination resulted in “flickering tabs” which is a major distraction:

  • Using Google Chrome as a browser
  • Using PowerPoint Online for your presentation
  • Selecting “content” rather than “desktop” for sharing

So: ask people to present with PowerPoint desktop app (if they have that) or ask them to share their desktop.
Or use Microsoft Edge, of course. 😁

9. Create a script

It may be good to have a timetable with who does what when and the timing of the breaks. It was good for the presenters but also for the producer, as I could then check when I needed focus and when I could relax a bit.

10. The “crew” needs the Teams Desktop App

One of the presenters logged into the test meeting via the web app and she entered the meeting as an attendee. Fortunately all our employees now have the Teams desktop app so all of us can produce or present Live Events (despite the fact that 90% of my colleagues have an F3 license, which is web + mobile apps only).

11. Make sure the producer has a large screen or monitor

As mentioned in item 3, I needed a larger screen to see all presenters, but also to see the Live result better. If your screen is too small, you will get prompts to expand your screen. Fortunately, I have an extra 23″ monitor.

Suggestion to change my screen.

12. Teach presenters how to unmute

EVERY presenter forgot to unmute themselves, so I had to jump in and ask them to unmute. πŸ™ It was nerves, I get that, but I did not like having to intervene. However, I later heard people actually appreciated me jumping in, as it showed that someone was noticing, saving a lot of questions in the Q&A.

13. Avoid having an audience in the same room as the presenters

Our students really wanted to have some family in the room, so they would not have to talk into a void, but it posed extra issues:

  • Due to the delay that a Live Event has (about 1 minute) in image and sounds it was impossible to project the Live Event in the room with the presenters.
  • Therefore we needed an extra person to click through the presentations from a separate laptop in the room. We could perhaps have duplicated the laptop screen but it would have to be changed between speakers and I know that some situations/laptops do not support duplication.
  • I was producing from home, and I did not exactly know what tech was available in the convention room, which made it difficult to explain to the presenters what to do in the room (which was not my responsibility anyway – that was producing this Live Event)
  • Presenters got easily distracted by the audience so the MC’s had to make sure everyone was back at their laptops in time for the next presentation – while this will also happen in a physical-only situation it is less annoying there as everyone can clearly see what is going on. People online do not see that.
  • Your laptop’s microphone is not good enough in this situation – it usually sounds rather tinny and will pick up sounds from the surroundings and that can cause an annoying reverb – so your producer must mute you. Presenters, use a headset and keep it plugged into your computer at all times!
  • The presenters also had to find a good position in the room with a good background, which needed time during set-up.
  • Questions from the room could not be heard and needed repeating by the MC, which they sometimes forgot. Which led to Q&A’s.

14. Learn basic sign language

This may seem silly, but as everything the presenters and producers say when you are Live is audible for everyone online, you can not really talk about things, and not everyone was watching chat all the time. So sometimes I wished I know sign language to tell people “get ready to present the break slide” or “unmute”.

15. Producer, mute yourself when going live

Do not say “Here goes” or something similar when you Go Live, because it will be recorded in the video. Guess how I know this? πŸ˜‚

16. Download the attendance report during or immediately after closing the event

When someone from the “crew” enters the Event after it has closed, it will overwrite the attendance report. By the way, the official word is “Attendee engagement report”.

17. The “crew” can only view the recording from the web app, even when they use the Attendee link

If they click the Attendee link and select the desktop app, they go into the “back end” of the meeting, overwriting the attendance report. See item 15.

18. The video lives in Azure, not in Stream

Do not look for the video in Stream – it is not there. You can download it from the meeting information and upload to Stream if you want to make it available for longer term. (It is available on Azure for 180 days)

There’s some good Microsoft info about post-event actions.

And if you know of a way to make transitions smoother, please let me know! If you have any other “gotcha’s” to share, they are welcome too!