Make your Teams meeting screen work for you

You may think that a Teams meeting is what it is, but there are so many ways you can adjust what you see!

Seeing other participants in the meeting

In general, you will see those people who have their camera on and who have made a sound most recently. If you have your camera off, your picture/initials will generally be moved to the bottom of the screen, depending on the number of people present. The same goes for your microphone.
So, if you want to make a mark in that meeting, make sure you have your camera on and make noise! πŸ™‚

But…this is also depending on the app and other options you are using.

  1. Web app:
    You can see only 1 person
  2. Mobile app:
    You can see max. 8 people in a 4 x 2 grid. This has recently been improved from 4. I have not heard much about it and only found out by accident the other day!
  3. Gallery:
    By default you will see max. 9 people in a 3 x 3 grid. More attendees will be moved to the bottom of the screen, attendees with video off and microphone muted first. Desktop app only.
  4. Large Gallery:
    You can see max 49 people in a 7 x 7 grid when you have the latest version of the app, and select “Large gallery” from the … in the Teams meeting control bar. Teams will auto-adjust the grid for fewer attendees. Nice post on the topic. Desktop app, and I found it in the Android mobile app as well!
  5. Together Mode:
    You can see max. 49 people in an auditorium-style setting when you have the latest version of the app, and select “Together Mode” from the … in the Teams meeting control bar. Desktop app, and I found that it is available in the Android mobile app as well! Thank you, Sam Gray, for the comment!
  6. No video.
    You can also turn off other people’s videos altogether and see people’s picture only. In the Teams meeting control bar, click the … and select “Turn off incoming video”.
    This is useful if all those moving videos distract you.
  7. Pin someone.
    You can pin someone’s video to keep seeing them, even if they do not speak. This can be useful for interviews or a group therapy session, if someone is very quiet. This is done in the Participants panel.
  8. Spotlight yourself or someone else.
    Contrary to the other items, you do not do this for yourself alone, but for everyone in the meeting. This will show the spotlighted person full-screen for all participants. This is useful for speeches.
    Do this only when they do not share a screen (otherwise the screen will be shown at the bottom, too small to read) and when the camera quality allows it. Desktop app only. This video tells you more.
Here’s where you apply Pins and Spotlights. For the Meeting control bar options, please scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Presenting yourself in the meeting

There’s also choices you can make for the way you are visible on screen, apart from Spotlighting in #8.

9. Turn video on or off.
During most calls, I have my camera on. During webinars, after the introductions I turn my video off as it does not add much value while I share presentation and screens. It also saves bandwidth for myself and others.

10. Blurring your background.
With everyone working from home, you sometimes run into interesting home situations. One of my colleagues works from her storage room, which means she sits in front of storage shelves. Others have children coming into view, or pets. I really appreciate seeing those real-life backgrounds, but in some cases you’d best blur. Desktop app only.

11. Changing your background.
This is also desktop-app only. One of my colleagues entertains us with an endless array of pictures from far-away places, and another sometimes uses a picture of himself sitting at his desk in the office, while he covers his web cam (which makes you disappear from your background). 🀣
My home office is rather neutral, so I generally keep things as they are.

Looking at presentations

When someone presents and/or shares their screen, you also have a few options to show their presentation on your screen.

This is the normal view, when someone else shares a presentation with me.

The regular view when someone shares a presentation with me

12. Focus
With Focus, you enlarge the shared screen so it hides the other attendees’ videos and pictures and is therefore less distracting. Click on the … in the Teams meeting control bar and select Focus. Desktop app only.

This is Focus. You see that the presenter’s video at the bottom right is hidden by the PowerPoint.

13. Full screen
This will hide the title bar from the meeting AND the task bar from the PC, but will leave the videos of attendees visible. Click on the … in the Teams meeting control bar and select Full Screen. This is also available on the web app, but it completely fills your screen. Below is what it looks like from the desktop app.

The meeting title bar at the top has been removed when using Full Screen, and the task bar from my PC is also hidden. As I have captured the active window only, you have to trust me on that.

14. Focus AND Full Screen.
Focus and Full Screen can be applied together. The presentation will then take as much screen as possible, hiding the title bar, the videos and the task bar.

Combining Focus and Full screen will give you a large and distraction-free presentation.

15. Control + Mouse wheel
This option allows you to zoom in or out of the presentation. It generally changes the ratio of shared screen vs. line of videos.

16. Show presenter and presentation side by side.
To be honest, I have as yet been unable to work this out, but you may want to check out Matt Wade’s video.

Conclusion

There’s many things you can do to determine what you see during your Teams meeting. This will allow you to select the best way for your purpose and preferences. During Ignite, more options were presented, so I guess I will need to update this post soon! 😁

The desktop app gives you many more options, so use it whenever you can.

To compare, I share two screenshots from the … in the Teams control bar, a presenter on Chrome, and an organiser/presenter using the desktop app.

Presenter on Chrome:

This is what a presenter can do using the web app

And these are the options for the desktop app:

The desktop app has many more options

Did I miss anything? If yes, please let me know!

5 thoughts on “Make your Teams meeting screen work for you

  1. Sam Gray October 25, 2020 / 10:28 pm

    Great summary. FYI I found the Teams mobile app seems to have just gotten together mode too. I found it also looks great even on a smaller screen. I was on an android phone.

    • Ellen van Aken October 26, 2020 / 9:38 am

      Ooooh, thanks Sam! I just checked that in our daily call and indeed, Together Mode for Android is there. I have added that.

  2. Kat W. October 27, 2020 / 9:15 pm

    Also, I’m pretty sure I have seen background blur as an option now in iOS mobile app. Thanks for this great post!

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