10 things to know about storing Teams meeting recordings

Around this time the default location to store Teams meeting recordings will change from Microsoft Stream to

  1. SharePoint if this is a Channel meeting (In the SharePoint folder of the Channel, in a new folder called “Recordings”.)
  2. OneDrive of the person who records, for any other meeting (in a new folder called “Recordings”)
  3. 20 days download option for the person who records, if they have an F3 license

According to Microsoft this is because a video is a document and should therefore live with and managed like a document. A recording will benefit from regular document management options, security and permissions, and the ability for external sharing.

In theory, this makes sense. In practice, there are some things you may want to know. In my organization we have chosen to switch early so we could control the switch date and make sure to have proper communication and support available. We have a few months of experience by now.

1. Stream is still not accessible for externals. Will it ever be?

When I was working with Office365 video (it must have been around 2015), we were told that it’s follow-up Stream would be accessible for externals. Until now, I have not seen any evidence or announcement of that. So storing meeting recordings in Stream has always been unpleasant for webinars and meetings with externals. You had to download the video from Stream and send or share it from OneDrive or SharePoint.

2. Spreading videos over 4 different locations is confusing (Stream, OneDrive, SharePoint, download)

We have been using the new locations for a few months now and boy, does this confuse people! You need a lot of words to explain where videos are stored. Many people are not aware of their license, or of the meeting type, or of their power when they record the meeting. And then you have all your earlier recordings still living in Stream. 😦

3. Storing recordings on the OneDrive of the “button-pusher” is confusing

We have had a few questions from meeting organizers about the recordings, where someone other than the organizer recorded the meeting. When something needed to be done, e.g. sharing the video with external attendees afterwards, or a bit of editing, or removing the video, the organizer did not know where to go. When I explained the situation, it happened that the “button-pusher” was on holiday, had no time or was unwilling to cooperate.

As the organizer already has so many unique powers in a Teams meeting, would it not make sense if the recording was always stored in the OneDrive of the organizer? And perhaps with a 20-day download option in case the meeting is organized by a group mailbox? (Which does not have a license, hence no OneDrive)

4. Your OneDrive and/or SharePoint must be accessible for externals

That is, if you want to share recordings with external parties. As you know, external participants can not watch the recording of meetings by default, even if they have a Microsoft365 account.
In my organization the OneDrives have the option to share with externals, but not all our SharePoint sites allow external access. In some cases we can make external access available with little effort, but not for every site type. If your organization does not want that, you will be unable to share with externals, so you will have to send large files around. 😦
This is not a big difference with the earlier situation on Stream, but Microsoft assumes external access by default, making it sound easier than it sometimes is.

Do you know the sharing settings for your SharePoint and OneDrive applications? (This is from the Admin Center).

5. This will add another folder to your systems

The recordings from a regular meeting will create a new folder in the OneDrive of the person who records, called “Recordings”. A Channel meeting recording will create a new subfolder in your Channel documents, also called “Recordings”.
This is not a big deal but you may want to tell people about all those folders that they themselves have not created. Some time ago I wrote an overview of all system-created folders in your OneDrive.

Example of a “Recordings” folder in a Teams channel

6. Stream can play videos at different speed

If you have a video in Stream, you can play it at different speeds. Click on the gear wheel under the video, click “Playback speed” and select the speed.
You can not do this in OneDrive or SharePoint.

Playing a video at different speeds is a Stream feature.

7. Stream has (limited) video editing options

If you want to do something with your video for the long term, you will probably want to use the best part only. In Stream, you can trim the beginning and end off your video if needed. There are no other editing options, but this option is useful AND more than what OneDrive and SharePoint have to offer. So, if you want to remove the start and end bits of a recording, you will have to upload your meeting recording to Stream OR use another video editing tool.
Please, can we have some editing options in OneDrive and SharePoint too?

Trimming is another unique Stream feature

8. Stream has caption, subtitle and other video options

This is perhaps not very relevant for the meetings that you record for people who could not attend, or to make sure you have captured the notes correctly, but these functionalities certainly add value for a webinar or an instruction video.

The video details in Stream. You can access them by clicking the … below the video and selecting “Update video details”. See the earlier screenshot.

9. Adding a Form works better in SharePoint

In Stream you can add a Forms, as a poll or a survey. In is rather strange – there is a side panel where I would expect the Poll to show up, but it is actually shown on the location of the video. Also, you have to specify a time, which could be nice for a quiz, but not for a general question.

I do not quite get this functionality in Stream. There’s a ugly box next to the video and the Form itself is shown on the video.

In SharePoint, you can create a nice page with an embedded video and a Form on the side.

It is easy to create a nice-looking page on SharePoint with additional information and interactive elements to your video.

10. Currently there are two messages when you save a Channel meeting.

My own tenant is still in Stream mode (mostly because I don’t do PowerShell πŸ™‚ ) and I am currently getting a message when I stop the recording.

On Teams desktop it says: “After the meeting, you can find this recording in the channel conversation or on Microsoft Stream.”

This is the message that you get when you stop recording in the Teams desktop app

On Teams for the web you get: “Recording is being saved. Recording has stopped. You can find the link to the recording in meeting chat history.”

This is the message when you stop recording in the Teams web app

Not a big deal, but something you may want to be aware of.

Conclusion:

Although the sharing and management of meeting recordings will be better when the recordings are stored on OneDrive or SharePoint, you miss out on specific video functionality. I would appreciate to have some basic video editing capabilities for OneDrive and SharePoint.

Has your organization made the switch to OneDrive and SharePoint? Do you have something else to add?

New! The SharePoint app bar

“Hey, that’s weird, there’s only five News items on my SharePoint start page, not six,” I noticed the other day. When I looked a bit better at the page, I saw that something had been added on the left side of the page: the SharePoint app bar. At that moment, the only item that worked was the Home button, which led me to the SharePoint start page. Which, seeing that I already was on that page, was not a real advantage 😁. The other options showed an empty popup.

So, after asking around on Twitter, it turned out that more people had it and that they also saw empty popups, but Melissa Torres, the developer of this functionality at Microsoft, was so kind to confirm that it was populating, and indeed, the next day everything worked as it should.

Thank you, everyone who responded to my Tweet! πŸ‘‡

Many people responded to my Tweet, including Melissa Torres from Microsoft.

What does it do?

Here’s a nice explainer video from Melissa Torres. (Thank you, Phil Worrell, for sharing that)

  • This is the Microsoft documentation.
  • The app bar is displayed on the SharePoint start page and all sites with modern pages. We have some “classic” sites at work (well…modern but with a classic homepage) and it does not show on the home page but when you navigate to a document library you see it.
  • The app bar allows you to quickly move between content and sites, so when you in one site and need to go to another, you do not necessarily have to go via the SharePoint start page.
  • There are 4 buttons, see Tweet above, top to bottom:
    • 🏠 Home, which takes you back to the SharePoint start page, or, if your organization has a Home site specified, to the global navigation.
    • 🌍 My Sites, which shows your frequently visited sites and your followed sites
    • πŸ“° My News, which shows you about 8 recent News items
    • πŸ“„ My Files, which are recent documents you opened or worked on

Is the SharePoint app bar something to celebrate?

🌍 I was especially interested in My Sites. We do not have a SharePoint-based intranet yet, and we currently use SharePoint mainly for document management, generally in sites with limited permissions. We are slowly starting with communication sites and News, but the majority is “closed” sites. We have a custom web part showing “My Sites”, showing all sites you have access to, and I recently got some feedback that this was no longer displaying all sites. I wondered if this would solve that problem.

There is a Microsoft User Voice (what are these rumours I hear about closing that down?) asking for an out-of-the-box functionality that shows all sites you have access to, but that has been on the waiting list since 2017. Microsoft indicates that with a SharePoint intranet, there will be many sites everyone will have access to, so a list like that will be confusing rather than helpful. They suggest to use Following and looking at Recently visited sites, in order to create your own list. I will have some convincing to do, as the “All my Sites” is apparently popular functionality and now I need to tell people to “DIY”.
I know “Do It Yourself” is a Microsoft thing, but that does not necessarily resonate with everyone. πŸ˜‰

So, in that way My Sites is a bit of a disappointment, as it does not show “All My Sites” but rather “Recently/Frequently visited” and “Followed sites”. I think this is definitely useful but we will have to help people to make this useful for them. I can see the benefits of a quick switch between sites.

🏠 The Home button is at present not really useful, as there is a SharePoint button in every site to take you back to the SharePoint start page. When we have a Home site, and a global navigation, this button will be more interesting.

Every site has a link that takes you back to the SharePoint homepage

πŸ“° The My News option is nice, but to be honest, News is not THAT important that I need to be able to switch to it quickly when doing something else.

πŸ“„ My documents can be useful. I may need to find a certain document when working in a SharePoint site.

And this…

❓ I also wonder about what happened to plans for the SharePoint start page – about a year ago we were told that the left column would go away, but that never happened. I then thought that every “application landing page” would get the full list of Microsoft 365 apps, as we currently see on the Forms homepage, but that may also not be true.
So, perhaps the app bar will replace the left column? Oh well, we will see.

πŸ‘ All this may be a reason to get rid of classic pages!

πŸ‘Ž I am less happy with the fact that I can only see 5 news items on the start page.

What do you think?

Create a List based on Forms responses – 2

In last week’s episode, we learned that you can use the Excel spreadsheet you get as a result from your Form, to create a Microsoft List. In this case I needed the easy data entry in Forms, but wanted to move the data (using a workflow) into a corresponding SharePoint list in order to facilitate a process.

This time I checked what happens if I use the other answer types (Date, Ranking, Likert, File Upload and Net Promotor Score) as a basis for a new List. I set up a Form with those fields, entered one response, downloaded the Excel and imported that into Microsoft Lists.

Let me share the full “Translation” here, so you have everything in one place.

Field type in FormsSuggested Column in Lists
IDDo not import
Start TimeTitle
Completion TimeNumber
Choice Single line of text
Text shortSingle line of text
Text longSingle line of text
Text numberNumber
RatingNumber
DateNumber
RankingSingle line of text
LikertSingle line of text (one per statement)
File UploadSingle line of text
Net Promotor ScoreNumber

Please note that the “Number” columns have more options to select from than the columns identified as “Single line of text”.

A number column and its options
A Single Line of Text column and its options

More findings:

  • By default, the Date answer from Forms is translated into a Number column in the List. If you want a proper date in your List, make sure you change these during import, as you can not change into a Date and Time column after import.
  • A Likert scale answer will provide you with one column for every statement (=row). I have never liked these question types, as they are a lot of work, but they also provide a ton of clutter in your list 😁
  • The NPS gives you just a number, not the calculation of course.
  • The File Upload option in Forms gives you an ugly URL. Sadly there is no option to change this column into a Hyperlink column.
Yikes (The link to the file that has been uploaded in Forms and now lives in my OneDrive)

Suggestions

I will repeat my suggestions from last time, and have added some new ones, so you have them in one place.

Forms design suggestions:

  • Collect requesters’ email addresses (and names) by default in the Form. Those will be captured in the Excel automatically and can be pushed to the List, saving your users time in entering this info manually.
  • Try to think of a unique identifier in your Form that you can use to fill the Title field in the List.

Import suggestions:

  • When you enter your first item to create the Excel, use short dummy text to avoid scrolling when importing the Excel. (How do I know that, you ask? πŸ˜‰)
  • Select β€œDo not import” for the Excel columns β€œID”, β€œStart Time” and β€œCompletion Time” unless you really need those. (see next item)
  • Make sure you map the Title column first when you create your List, or Lists will keep making suggestions until that field is mapped.
  • If you have a Date column in your Form, other than the Start and Completion time, change that into a Date and Time column during import, as you will be unable to change it later.
  • The Net Promotor Score will only return the number of each response, so think carefully if you really want to import this column into the list. The complete calculation, and the graphic, is nicely done in Forms and it may be easier to check that.
The NPS is a calculation based on all responses – you can not capture this in a Calculated Column.

List suggestions:

  • Is the Start Time of the Form entry important, e.g. if these are requests and you need to sort those in order of entry, or calculate a response time? Use the default β€œCreated” date/time of the item in the List. The workflow may have a few seconds delay, but it is usually the date that is important, not the exact time. This allows you to skip the date columns from the Forms/Excel during import.
  • If you have Choice fields in your Form, it makes sense to configure the corresponding columns in the List as Choice fields and add the values. This will allow you to make use of List column formatting, such as displaying each value as a β€œcoloured choice pill” for easy recognition. You can do this after import.

Conclusion:

Yes, it is certainly possible to use the Excel spreadsheet that is produced from your Form, as a basis for a Microsoft List. However, the import is pretty basic (Numbers and Single Line of Text fields by default), so you will need to think carefully about how to import each answer, because you can not change all of them afterwards.

If your Form is very long it can certainly help, but if your Form only has a few questions, I think you can just as quickly make a list from scratch and make sure that all columns are correct from the start. But of course one wonders if a scenario like this was in scope when developing all this functionality.

Do you have any experience with this kind of set-up, and if yes, do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Create a List based on Forms responses – 1

A colleague asked if we could make his process easier by collecting requests through Forms instead of completing a Word document and then emailing it.
After discussing his process it appeared that the regular Forms output (the graphs and the Excel file) was not sufficient for his ongoing process. So we decided on a different approach:

  • use Forms to collect the requests from colleagues across the organization.
  • use Power Automate to send the responses into a List in a (restricted) SharePoint site. We will not go into details about the workflow itself, but please be aware it is part of the process.
  • the team can process the requests from their SharePoint site.

This has advantages and some risks:

  • πŸ‘ Forms has nice interface for the requester
  • πŸ‘ Requests can be made from phone if desired
  • πŸ‘ Form can be accessed by QR code if needed
  • πŸ‘ Branching in Forms (skipping questions based on earlier answers) is possible, making the workload for the requester as small as possible
  • πŸ‘ As the workflow is user-based, there is no need to manage extra permissions to the SharePoint list (the requests can be entered by more people than currently have access to the SharePoint site)
  • πŸ‘ Many options to slice and dice the requests into reports: open and completed, most popular request types, how many requests in a year, etc.
  • πŸ‘Ž The workflow can break
  • πŸ‘Ž Workflow and list need to be adjusted when the Form changes

Using the Excel file to create the List

I wanted to see whether I could use the Excel file from the Form as the basis for the List, as I was curious if this would save time.

  1. I created a Form, using a sample of each question/response option in Choice, Text, Rating. (In my next post I will use the other response options)
  2. I completed one request to create the Excel
  3. I downloaded the Excel file to my PC – you can also save it to OneDrive
  4. I then went to the Lists homepage, clicked on “New List” and then “From Excel”
  5. I uploaded the Excel (or select from OneDrive)
  6. For each column I had the option to “Do not import” or check and adjust the column type
  7. As any List needs a Title field, the system proposed to use the “Start time” (which is unique, so although not very informative, I used it). I can imagine for a real life situation, you will need to think about this.
  8. When I was done adjusting column types, I clicked “Next” and then I could adjust the title, add a list description, select colour and icon, and determine whether it will “live” in my OneDrive (personal list) or in a SharePoint site.
  9. I then checked the result
The import screen. For each field you get a proposed column type that you can change. “Do not import” is also an option.
You scroll to the right to map each field to a column.

Findings:

πŸ‘‰ The columns proposed were moderately adequate. The Ratings were all Number columns (good), but the Multiple Lines of Text and the Choice columns were all proposed as Single Line of Text.

If you do not adjust column types, this is what you will get. The blue columns have not been set correctly.

πŸ‘Ž The “Start Time” and “Completion Time” are in a regular date/time format in the Excel, but if you do nothing they turn into a sort of strange calculated number during import. It is a Number column that you can not change after creating the list. I am sure it is extremely unique to the millisecond, but not usable for real humans, so I would suggest to “Do not import” this column unless absolutely necessary. In that case, make sure you turn it into a Date/Time column while importing your Excel file.

The title field, which is a single-line-of-text column with a weird start time notation. Completion time is a number column.

πŸ‘‰ Changing the Choice fields into Choice columns during import made the columns into default choice columns, with dropdown and no values.

Suggestions:

  • Collect requesters’ email addresses (and names) by default in the Form. Those will be captured in the Excel and can be pushed to the List, saving time in entering this info manually.
  • Try to think of a unique identifier in your Form that you can use to fill the Title field in the List.
  • When you enter your first item to create the Excel, use short dummy text to avoid scrolling when importing the Excel. (I entered a ton of text into the Multiple Line of Text field, but that was not a good idea πŸ₯΄)
  • Is the date of the request important, e.g. if you need to sort the requests in order of entry, or calculate a response time? Use the default “Created” date/time of the item in the List. The workflow may have a few seconds delay, but it is usually the date that is important, not the exact time. This allows you to skip the date columns from the Forms/Excel.
  • Make sure you select the Title column first when you create your List, or Lists will keep making suggestions until that field is mapped.
  • Select “Do not import” for the Excel columns “ID”, “Start Time” and “Completion Time” unless you really need those
  • If you have Choice fields in your Form, it makes sense to configure the corresponding columns in the List as Choice fields and add the values. This will allow you to make use of List column formatting, such as displaying each value as a “coloured choice pill” for easy recognition.
If you configure your Choice values as Choice columns and enter the values, you can give the options a different colour each, using Column formatting.

Conclusion

I am not so sure if using the Excel file as the basis for the list saves much time. You need to carefully select and adjust the column type during and after import. I am sure that practice will make perfect, and I will test that in my next experiment with the other Forms-options, but if you are a practiced List creator (and I am one) you may be faster when you create your list from scratch in your SharePoint site.
It was one of my first experiences with the Lists app, however, and I have seen a few things that I like! 😍

Recent updates of my posts

With all those rapid changes in the Microsoft 365 suite, some posts age quickly. I have recently updated a number of my most-read posts to keep up with the current situation.

Office Home

Did you know I keep screenshots of all the varieties of Office Homepage since 2016? It is great to see subtle and not so subtle changes. And since there is a new Homepage being rolled out right now, featuring some more filter options and with new Tabs for your files, I updated The New Microsoft365/Office365 Homepage.

Teams

Most changes occur within Teams at the moment, so I have updated the following articles:

The importance of being Organizer, with an Excel spreadsheet (download if you like) of what each role can do in a Teams meeting. I have updated this for breakout rooms and the option to turn off chat.

Take control of your Teams meeting, where I added the options to allow attendees to unmute and the option to control the chat. I also updated some screenshots.

Forms

I just found out that you can create a QR code from Microsoft Edge so I added that to Long live the QR Code or you can read this:

SharePoint

In my most recent post I noticed that the elusive “See all” info, that allows you to create a lovely SharePoint News Digest, does not always appear on your web part even if you have posted the required 5 items.
I wrote 10 things to know about the SharePoint News Digest in 2019 and I am shocked that it took me until 2021 to find the quirk to fill item #10! πŸ˜‰

Delve

With the new Office homepage, the tab “Discover” has gone and with it the option for F3-licensed users, who have no Delve icon, to see suggested documents. So I also had to update An alternative way to dive into Delve.

Long live the QR code

(Updated: 31 January 2021)

When I first learned that a Microsoft 365 Form can be shared by a QR-code, I thought “Nice, but who uses a QR code anyway?”. I am an op-art fan and love the black-and-white pattern, but I had read a lot of articles saying that “the QR code is dead”.

I do not know if COVID-19 has anything to do with it, but suddenly I see QR-codes everywhere. I get printed food-to-go flyers with QR codes in my (physical) mailbox, stickers with QR codes are in shop windows and on restaurant walls, I see them in paper magazines and they are on paper tickets for concerts and exhibitions.

It turns out that QR codes are still very much alive as they are a perfect bridge between paper (or plaster 😁) and the internet.
Even better, I found out I no longer have to use a QR-reader app, I can just use my smartphone’s camera! (For older smartphones a QR reader app may still be required though)

So I thought to share a Form with you. Feel free to scan the code or click here.

Update January 31, 2021:

I just learned that you can create a QR from any URL (< 256 characters) in Microsoft Edge!
Here’s how:

Teams Meeting or Live Event?

As the Live Event is still relatively unknown in our organization, we get many questions from colleagues who are about to organize a “large event” and are unsure what to use. Most of our “large events” are well below the 350-people limit of the Teams Meeting, but I do not base my advice on the expected number of attendees only.

I generally try to find out whether they want a collaborative event or a more controlled event without much interaction.

That leads to interesting discussions where many organizers keep changing their mind. πŸ™‚

Why go for a Teams Meeting?

On the one hand, the familiar handling and interface of the Teams Meeting is tempting, especially when it is an internal event. There are ever more options to add extra controls, such the recent “keep attendees muted” and upcoming limitations for chat. In that way, Teams Meetings are getting closer to Live Events!
On the other hand, if you expect around 80 colleagues, things may get very messy if everyone starts chatting or raising hands or talk simultaneously, or if someone tries to move a discussion into an unexpected direction.

Why go for a Live Event?

However, if they decide to do a Live Event (btw, at the moment we only do the simple type, with shared presentation and webcam), they will get control over questions and a consistent professional look-and-feel for the audience. The “downside” is that they will need to learn something new, do a test run and decide on a producer and a moderator, which is new and scary, even if we have an example script and we offer training.
If they have an audience in the same room as the presenter(s), it will even be more complicated due to the delay of the Live Event – about 30-60 seconds, which makes it impossible to listen to the presenter AND to the Live Event.

What are the differences?

Anyway, I have listed the various differences in a spreadsheet. You are welcome to use it for your own purposes, and please let me know if there is anything (else?) that has influenced the decision either way for your organization.

Feel free to download and re-use this and please let me know if you have any additions

I am curious if the availability of break-out rooms will have an influence! 😁

External presenters in a Teams Live Event

In my organization we often invite external experts to present for education purposes. Of course we already know that externals can present in a Teams meeting, although it really helps if they have a Microsoft365 account. See my earlier post.
But what about externals in a Teams Live Event? Yes, they can attend if the event is made public, but what about presenting?

I had already seen a comment on Twitter suggesting that presenters from outside the organization could not join, and recently I came upon a trick from Samantha Brown to overcome that, so I decided to find out how things work.

I set up an experiment:

  • I organized a public event and an organization-only event
  • I invited 4 external presenters:
    • with their own Microsoft 365 account and membership of a Team in the organization
    • no M365 account, but with membership of a Team in the organization
    • with Microsoft 365 account from another organization
    • with none of the above

I attempted to enter into the meeting, in each of the roles above.

So, what have I learned?

1. Presenters MUST use the Teams desktop app

We knew this already, but in case you have not read all Microsoft help: They must download the Teams desktop app. If they don’t, they will enter as attendee and can do nothing. So, if you have an external presenter joining the show, tell them to download the app to their PC – it is free but essential!

2. People with a Microsoft 365 account can present

Presenters with a Microsoft 365 account can enter both events and present. So again, if you are a lecturer and you are being invited regularly to speak at organizations that use Teams, you may want to invest in an M365 account – it is cheaper than Zoom and will make speaking life much easier for you. (And you will get a nice OneDrive and SharePoint and what not, with it!)

3. Presenters with a Microsoft 365 account best join from their Teams Calendar

They often end up as an attendee or get stuck in a weird sign-in loop if they join from the invitation email.

4. It does not matter if the meeting is public or internal only

If someone can present, they can do so in both event types. I assume they can also do it for a limited group, but I have not tested that.

5. External presenters may need to wait in the lobby, but only for the first entry

When a presenter enters the Event for the first time, they may need to wait in the lobby until someone from the organization lets them in. I found this to be the case for both M365 accounts, but not for the presenter who was only a Guest.
So if they drop out for a minute, or if they have used the Live Event for a practice session (without the producer pushing the Start button), they will enter immediately next time they log in.

6. People without Microsoft 365 account can present if they are a Guest in the organization

When they are a Guest, they do not need a Microsoft 365 account. As Sam mentions, adding them to a Team site makes them a Guest and then they are good to go. The organizer will see (Guest) behind their name when they invite them.
But there’s more: after you remove them from the Team site they can still be a presenter, because they are still on the Guest list and need to be removed from the admin center.
This is a bit of a security nightmare as it is up to an Administrator to remove them permanently, but as they do not know who has invited them, they do not know who to ask. And knowing my colleagues, nobody will ever think of submitting a ticket to remove someone from the systems, unless there is a calamity. So once a Guest, most likely always a Guest. πŸ™

In this place in the Admin center you can remove Guest users.

7. People without a Microsoft 365 account that are no Guest can NOT enter the meeting as a presenter

They get an error message looking like this:

If your lecturer gets this message when they try to enter the Live Event as a presenter, they have no account and are no Guest.

Recommendation: Do a test meeting well in advance of the Event

If you are organizing or producing a Live Event, you may want to run a test meeting a few days before the Live Event, in order to check out if people have the Teams desktop app, if they have a M365 account or not, etc. This will give you time to adjust any issues before the Big Event!

Do you have any other tips or recommendations? Please let me know!

Send a Teams meeting invitation from a group mailbox

Teams is very much a personal tool. You see only your own calendar and if you organize a Teams meeting, the invitation is coming from you, and you can only attend as yourself.
But…sometimes you want to send the invitation from a mailbox that does not disclose your name.

There are (as far as I know) two ways to make that happen:

1. Schedule in Teams and forward meeting link

  • Schedule the meeting from your own Teams Calendar
  • Adjust meeting options if needed
  • Copy the meeting link
  • Create an invitation from the group mailbox
  • Paste the link into the invitation
  • Send to all participants
It is easy to find the meeting link: When you have created the meeting, rightclick “Click here to join the meeting” and copy.
  • πŸ‘ Keeps your name out of the invitation
  • πŸ‘ Teams meetings are accessible to all who have the link, so no need to worry about lack of access
  • πŸ‘ You will be able to access the meeting as an organizer and be able to make adjustments during the meeting if needed, e.g. if you need a report of attendees or if it is important to make a “hard stop” to the meeting.
  • πŸ‘Ž Some extra steps of copying and pasting the link

2. Schedule in Outlook from group mailbox

  • Schedule a meeting from Outlook
  • Add a Teams meeting
  • Send to all participants
  • IMPORTANT: Adjust meeting options NOW if needed
  • πŸ‘ Keeps your name out of the invitation
  • πŸ‘ Easy
  • πŸ‘Ž The group mailbox is the organizer now, and that mailbox has no Teams account. This means that the meeting will have to be done without an organizer, so nobody will be able to adjust the meeting options during the meeting, end the meeting or download the attendee report.

What is best?

There are plenty of meetings where the organizer is not missed. We schedule our training webinars with the second option and that works perfectly well.

For larger or very important meetings you may want to read my post about the importance of the organizer first to see if you think there may be a need to do “organizer things” during the meeting. Perhaps you only need to adjust the meeting options beforehand.

Meeting options – they may need adjusting before the meeting.

I am often asked if you can delegate the organizer role and the answer is NO. In fact, Teams does not do delegation well, as Tony Redmond confirms in his recent useful post.

Have you come across this requirement and how are you dealing with this? Happy to learn new tricks!

Smooth operating

This week I attended an online symposium. As the organizer knew that most of the attending organizations do not like, or have even blocked Zoom, he used regular Teams meetings.
It is always a good event, with interesting speakers and cases, and this year’s edition was no exception. What struck me however was the smoothness of the experience. All presenters had organized their own session (so I entered in all kinds of meeting recipes, from one session where all 80 of us were presenters, to a session where I was a muted attendee) and I just hopped smoothly from one session to the other and apart from the occasional lobby, there was no barrier at all.
All session links were in the chat of the main meeting, and that chat was listed in my Team chats, so I could always easily check what the next session was or chat to the organizer.

Why did this work so well?

  • I have at least two Teams meetings a day at the moment, so I know the tool inside and out.
  • Using my Microsoft365 subscription meant I could do whatever I do at work – the experience was completely the same. In the Participants I could see two descriptors – “Outside your organization” (which means logged-in M365 users) and “Guest” (which means not logged in to M365).

What is a Guest?

A Guest in a Teams meeting is someone without a Microsoft365 account, or who has entered the meeting without logging in. They can attend via the web, mobile or use the app, but they always have limited options.

Meeting organized by my private account, invited myself and Test15 from my work, and two others without an account.

What are the limitations of the Guest role?

1. No notification of people waiting in the lobby

Guests do not get a notification that someone is waiting in the lobby, and they can not allow someone into the meeting, even if they are a presenter. External presenters with a M365 account can do that, even when they are attending the meeting on their phone.

2. Chat only available during the meeting

Guests have the Teams meeting screen, but not the Teams rails (if you are attending via the web app) or other Team windows (if you use the desktop app). Therefore they can only use the chat when they are in the meeting.
External participants with M365 see the meeting Chat in their Teams rails on the left and can keep on chatting.

3. No background effects in the app

Guests have the option in their menu to adjust background, but it shows just an empty frame.
External participants with M365 can adjust their backgrounds as usual.

Mystery Guest (Guest) is a presenter (as the Sharing block is not greyed out and she can ask control over the shared presentation) and she uses the app (as there is an option to change background effect) but the panel shows no pictures or other options.

4. No Focus or Large Gallery/Together Mode

You can see from above screenshot that there are also no options for Focus or the Large Gallery or Together Mode. And yes, the Modern Experience has been applied in the app.
External participants with M365 can use those options, as shown in this screenshot where Test15 is using the same app.

Test15 (with M365) uses the same desktop app as above and has all the modern options. An external presenter with M365 can even create a Poll!

5. No option to manage attendees

Guests can only pin people, but not spotlight or mute them, or change their roles.
External presenters with M365 can do that.

This is Mystery Guest’s screen, and she is a presenter but can only Pin Test15.

6. Limited participant’s info

Guests only see the names of the participants, and who is the organizer.
Presenters with a M365 account can see organizational contact information.

A Guest sees only this when they hover over any participant’s picture or initials
An external with M365 sees this when he hovers over the picture/initials of the organizer
And this is what you see when you hover over picture or initials of a colleague – even more info! (This is my work account – this was an external participant for this experiment)

Roles list updated!

Some time ago I wrote about the differences in roles, and I have updated the list of who can do what from that post. I added extra columns for the Presenter (Guest) and Attendee (Guest) as these have different options from the M365-attendee. Feel free to download and/or use for your own organization!

This is only the top of the list, but you already see some differences

Conclusions:

Do you have a Microsoft365 subscription and you are invited to a Teams meeting? Make sure you log in before joining the meeting!

An external participant who, like you, has a Microsoft365 subscription can do as much as a participant from your own organization, except recording and viewing a recording. This allows for a smooth meeting experience.
A Guest can only do the basics.

When you are organizing or presiding Teams meetings with externals regularly, you will have to take the following variables into account to have an idea about each participant’s meeting experience.

  • Role: Organizer, Presenter or Attendee
  • Means of attending: Desktop app, web or phone
  • M365 account: Yes or Guest?

Be a Smooth Operator 😁

Are you a regular presenter in Teams meetings outside your organization? (E.g. a therapist or a trainer) You may want to consider taking a subscription to Microsoft365 as it will allow you to do SO much more. I have a Business Basic subscription which is only $5.00 per month (ex tax) and you get a lot of other goodies, too!

Title inspired by “Smooth Operator” by Sade.