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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 

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. 🙂

Update August 2020 👇

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. 
NewHomepageaug2020

The new Home icon:

Home and Create document icons

The new “All Apps” icon:

It’s the bottom one

Update July 2019 👇

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 👇

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 👇

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 🙂 )

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 👇

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 🙂
  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! 🙂

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. 👍
It also works on OneDrive. 👍
It is not available for PowerPoint Online. 👎
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. 👎
Additionally it allows site users with Full Control and Edit permissions to edit the original text, even if you ask for comments only. 👎
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. 👍
It is also useful for sharing files on your OneDrive as everyone will be unable to edit the original text. 👍

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! 💪

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. 😉

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 😉

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. 🙁 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? 😂

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)

19. You can produce and present with the F3 license, but not organize.

OK, this is not exactly a lesson from my event, but I just found this out and I thought I’d warn you.

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!

Liven up your Live Event

Last week I “produced” my first Live Event in Teams: a symposium with the theses of three of our students, with two MC’s in charge of welcome, introductions, Q&A’s and a closing message.

Until now these events have always been organized as a face-to-face event in one of our larger convention rooms, with about 100 colleagues and family and friends of the students. This generally involves a 10-minute refreshment break after each speaker while the next speaker makes preparations.

However, in the Corona universe, even our largest convention room can hold only 18 people, so our organizers had to move to an online solution. The convention room was used for the MC’s, students and 4 members of family each, while other people would watch the Live Event.

Having a physical room AND a digital place provided some challenges with the programme.
In a physical room, you know where you are, you see the people involved so you know you are in the right place. You can talk to others, get a coffee or tea, or watch the preparations.
In a Live Event, you enter a sort of void, hoping you are on the right screen in the right meeting, and you have no option to ask anyone if this is the symposium.

So, we decided on starting the Live Event 5 minutes early with a slide showing the programme. That way people would know they were in the right event and could see which speaker would be on when.

We used the same slide before and during the meeting but I think you can do more. This can also be a nice way to brand your event.

Welcome slide

You use this to welcome people in the meeting well before it starts. Make sure you post the name of the meeting, the programme, perhaps how to handle the Q&A and anything else that is relevant. You may even rotate two slides or use an animation to inform people their screen is not frozen 😄

Example of a welcome slide
You could alternate the programme with this speakers’ slide

Break slide

A 10-minute break can be quite a long time for an online audience, so you may want to share a slide with some of the conclusions of the earlier presentation, and a preview of what is coming.

Example of a slide for the break, showing the upcoming presentations

Repeat for each break, so in this case the 2nd break slide would look like this:

The 2nd break slide

End slide

You can use this to inform the audience of contact details, of the next symposium, and how they can access the presentations, as “sharing a file” is not available in Live Event. (Of course you can share a link via the Q&A if the presentations are online for everyone)

You could use this slide during the closing remarks and/or while attendees are leaving

Presenter background

This week I also saw the option to upload your own background image to Teams easily and that can help with a consistent look-and-feel of your event. You can upload it when you select a background. It will be added to the bottom of the pane. I have already seen some “company backgrounds” when talking to other people.

Here’s where you add a new background

Please take note of the specifications:

  • Max 2048 * 2048 px
  • Min 360 * 360 px
  • .jpg, .bmp or .png
  • Aspect ratio > 4
  • Please note that your image will appear reversed for you (mirrored) but for others it will look OK.
  • Use a patterned background (a photo or another image) for the best results – a plain colour block does strange things to your hair 🙂
The text will appear in mirror image for yourself, but OK for others.

Conclusion

Making use of programme slides during a Live Event is nice for your online audience. It also gives you an opportunity to brand your event. Providing branded background slides for the speakers can also help make your event look streamlined, and it saves a fuss checking out your physical background.

It is fairly easy – I have used the standard Atlas theme in PowerPoint as a quick option, but you can also have things professionally designed of course. (That will look much better! 😁 )

Just curious – are you “branding” your Live Events currently? I would be interested to learn what you do and how it works out. Please let me know in the comments!

352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint

As my organization is slowly getting used to the look of modern SharePoint sites that go with a Team site, I am getting more and more questions about how to create those “buttons” that some of our pioneers added to their site.

For Classic sites I once made an overview of the options for Summary Links, which is a web part to store lists of links, with styling options. The equivalent in Modern sites is the Quick Links web part.

Now we can have a debate on the “Quick” aspect of Quick Links, but let’s not go into that and let’s focus on the ways you can make them look. (But if you are curious, you may want to read this article by the Nielsen Norman Group)

How did I prepare?

  • In one of my SharePoint sites, I created a new page and added a header from the new Stock Images (👍 nice!)
  • I added a one-column section
  • I added a Quick Links web part to the section
  • I added some individual links with either an image (Web search), an image from the new Stock Images option (again: nice!) or an icon (also much-appreciated functionality).
  • To some links I added a description.

This is the result:

Starting point for my experiments

Now you have a number of options for how those 8 links are shown.
Of course in a real-life situation you would not want to mix images and icons but for demonstration purposes it makes sense.

6 Web part layout options

When your page is in edit mode, and you click the edit icon for the web part, you get 6 options for layout. Each option can have sub-options.

6 options for different displays of your links

“Compact” is the default option, as shown in the screenshots above. If I uncheck “Show image in layout” the images and icons are removed.
2 options.

No images – a bit plain, right?

Filmstrip” gives a large emphasis on the image. You can move from left to right with arrows, and on the bottom you will see an indication that there’s more than these 4.
1 option.

The “Filmstrip” layout emphasizes the images …
… but it appears NOT to show any default icons (in this case, from a document library)

Grid” shows the links in tiles with large images, again not displaying default icons.
1 option.

Grid – large images, but no default icon

Buttons” has a ton of options:

Description yes/no, image yes/no, appearance, alignment and number of lines: buttons has many options.

Let’s show a few:

With description, icon on left, button outline, centered and two lines of text
No description, icon on top, no outline, top aligned and one line of text (which makes it slightly more compact)

And the option that is very popular in my organization:

No description, no icon, fill colour, center alignment and two lines. If you only use icons, and no images, with your links, this is a good option too.

So the Buttons option alone has 72 display options!

The “List” layout has 4 options: with or without icon, and with or without description. It looks like the Buttons option with the icon on the left, but it is slightly different when you toggle between the two.
4 options.

The List option with icon and description

And finally there is the “Tiles” option, which shows your links in squares. There are 5 sizes, and for the smallest 3 you can decide whether you want to show just the icon, or only the image. I am sharing the two most extreme options.
8 options.

Small tiles with title
The largest image where there is no room for the title

So, all in all you have 88 options to choose from!

But wait, there’s more: 4 section background colours

When you edit the section, you can determine the columns, but also select one of 4 colour options for the section background from left to right: none (as shown in the screenshot), neutral, soft and strong. The exact colours depend on the theme of the site.
So, multiply the 88 options of the web part with the 4 background options and you get…352 options!

These are the options:

You can select 4 different hues

This is the default Compact option with images with 3 backgrounds:

The neutral background
Soft background-the screenshot shows hardly any difference with white
The strong background – that is VERY visible

When you have selected a Link option with a fill-in colour, such as the Button (fill colour) or the Tiles, and you use the strong background, the colour of the buttons will revert to white, for maximum contrast.

The Button with fill colour – now white with strong background.
Tiles with strong background – the icon tiles change to white.

Conclusion

There’s 352 ways to make a nice list of links on your SharePoint page.
It is easy to switch from one style to the other so you can play around until you have found the best style for your purposes.

I would not quickly select one without a title – I have clicked too many image-only buttons that led to something I had not expected or wanted. Tell people what they can expect or do and do not leave them guessing. Nielsen-Norman group have many suggestions for link names with good “information scent”.

What’s your favourite Quick Link style?

Note: I have recently switched to the WordPress’s Block Editor. This has changed the way image captions are being displayed.

Where have all the features gone?

We always think very carefully if and how we communicate changes to our Microsoft365 environment.
Generally, changes that affect all users, and may lead to questions or confusion, will be posted on the intranet. We do this for about 2 or 3 changes a year. Think about “the new Outlook on the web” last summer, and the new design of the SharePoint homepage earlier this year.
Changes with a lesser impact are communicated through our dedicated Yammer group for people who take an interest, and during webinars.
Additionally we regularly revise our training and webinar materials.

So, we were a tad worried when we found that some new functionality that had been in our tenant, and had been communicated, suddenly disappeared. In one case we found out that the functionality had been retracted, but we have no clue about the others.

Perhaps one of my readers can help?

1. The SharePoint start page

A few months ago we published an article on the intranet that there would be a new SharePoint start page. The column on the left hand side would be removed and some of the info there would move to below the site cards. We prepared the communication and an explanatory screenshot.
When we could finally confirm that also our non-targeted release users had it, we published the article.

Around March and the start of the Corona-crisis, I noticed that my SharePoint start page had reverted back to the old setup, both at work and in my own tenant. I checked the Roadmap, the tenant Message Center, the internet, but nothing came up.

Only half May I found out that I had missed this article, which has a small paragraph on this topic.

Gone-SPstartpage
As the article above is quite long, this is the message.

Well, thanks for that. And I could not find the #192001 in my Message center, nor in that from my work tenant. 😦

2. Save documents for later in SharePoint

I was already aware of the Save for Later options in SharePoint News, but I was happily surprised to find that this function would also be available for regular documents in SharePoint sites. I saw it a few months ago, immediately saved a few documents and told our Yammer group.

I still have them saved on my SharePoint page. But the functionality is gone in both my private and my work tenant!

I have not imagined it, as this SharePoint Roadmap Pitstop from November 2019 shows. It points to a Roadmap #49095 which mentions the functionality for OneDrive…with a launch date of Q4, 2020.

What has happened in the mean time? What retraction or delay announcement have I missed?

BTW, this blog shows the Saved for later files on the new SharePoint home page.

3. Files tab in Outlook

Some time ago, my colleague and I noticed a paperclip icon in the bottom left of our Outlook-on-the-web app.

The paperclip

When clicked, it would give you a page with all attachments in your mailbox. Very convenient for cleaning up! However, it has not been seen for several months.

Once again, I have not imagined it. I wrote about it in this blog about my love for Outlook-on-the-web.

Update July 8, 2020:

The files tab in Outlook is back! I just received a comment from Eric (see below) and I immediately checked. I wish I could sort them on file size, but it is already a big plus that I can see how many files live in my Outlook!

Does anyone know?

You know I like to play the detective, but I could not find the answers this time 😉

Title inspired by 1955’s song “Where have all the flowers gone” by Pete Seeger.