Our health care organization has gone a step further in using Teams.
Our dedicated (non-Microsoft) software for helping our clients online was just (=before COVID-19) being rolled out with various amounts of success. Some people loved it, and saw the benefits for both client and therapist (no need to travel for both parties, client being in their own environment, connection with the client registration systems), others said they needed the face-to-face meetings to be able to provide real help.
Now that we have had to move all therapy online, we found a functionality gap in the software: the option to use this for group sessions, either multiple therapists seeing one client, or sessions with one therapist and several clients.
After discussing various options we agreed to make Teams temporarily available for this purpose, so our therapists can finalise the existing group therapies, and perhaps even start new ones.
Microsoft Teams is a business tool and meant for collaboration in an organisational context. Mental health therapy is something completely different, so we had to create special instructions:
1. Create the invitation
- Create the invitation from Outlook Online, NOT from Teams.
- Add the relevant title, attendees, date and time, and message info.
- Make sure you make this a Teams meeting.
- Before sending, click the “Response Options” top right and select “Hide attendee list”.
Optionally, you can also UNselect “Allow forwarding” to avoid uninvited people getting into your group session.
- As soon as you have made a choice, the popup will go away, so it is a good idea to check if you have made the right selections.
- Click Send.
Alternatively you can add the attendees to the BCC field, but as this field is not visible by default, it means people will have to change their Outlook settings. Using “Hide attendee list” is easier.
Those who use the Outlook desktop (in our case: hardly any therapist has this) can use the BCC field or add the users as a Resource. This is a bit of a weird workaround in my opinion. Just use Outlook Online, it is great!
Now, if the invitation is sent, the attendees will see only their own name in the invitation, which is a privacy requirement in this situation.
If you have also disabled the “Forward invitation” option, this will be displayed on the invitation, depending on the recipient’s email programme.
2. Manage meeting options
By default, everyone can go into the meeting freely, and everyone can present. (Update 15-04-2020: the default is now that externals will have to wait in the lobby. Good idea.) While this is the easiest setting for regular business purposes, it is not always the best option. We have heard about Teams meetings in education, where pupils muted the teacher and/or changed his/her role into attendee or even threw each other out of the meeting altogether!
So, in our situation it may be best to prevent any issues and provide a little more control to the therapist(s). The following can only be done by the person who has organised the meeting.
- Open the meeting in your Teams calendar
- Click the Meeting Options, to the right of the time zones OR on the bottom of the invitation underneath the link to the meeting. (see the Outlook screenshot below)
- Change the lobby settings to: “People in my organization” (so you can discuss with your colleague before you allow everyone into the meeting)
- Change the presenter settings to anything except Everyone. “People in my organization” is a good one.
This will make all others an attendee, and they can only use audio, video and chat. (Roles description by Microsoft)
- Click Save.
This can also be done from the invitation in Outlook:
3. Change roles during the meeting
During the meeting you can also have some control and change roles.
- Click on the people icon in the meeting control bar
- You will now see the list of participants. You can now
- Mute everyone
- You can also manage individual attendees by clicking on the … behind their name
- Make them a presenter (and later an attendee again)
- Remove someone from the meeting
Steven Collier has made a nice video where he explains “Teams-bombing” and the prevention thereof (items 2 and 3) with an example of a rebellious student.
4. Avoid “private viewing” of your presentation
If you are sharing a presentation, by default people are allowed to click through at their own pace. While many people will not know where that option is, it may be a good idea to switch that off, especially if your presentation has a carefully designed build-up.
Click the ellipses in the meeting control bar and click “Show device settings”. A panel with camera and microphone settings will pop up, as well as a toggle to change the presentation flip-through option from On to Off.
5. End the meeting
If you want to make sure that the conversation stops when the meeting ends, you can “End meeting” which will stop all audio and video. The chat will still be accessible and can still be used.
The default settings of Teams may be a little too “flexible” for non-business purposes. Fortunately there are many options to have more control.
Mind you, you as my regular audience will probably know all of this, but our therapists generally know only the basics of Office365 (oh, I need to say Microsoft365 now, right?) and they need detailed instructions, as they have to schedule these sessions themselves.
Next time, I will discuss the user interface for various email programmes. I have had a ton of questions about what clients see and I want to make sure I can answer that properly.