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. 🙂

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. 🙁

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!

Some quirks of the F3 license

When people talk or write about Microsoft 365 Outlook, Word or Excel, they generally mean the desktop versions.

However, there are Microsoft365 subscriptions that provide only the web and mobile versions of things. With the ongoing improvements of the web apps these subscriptions are getting better and better.

Most of my therapist colleagues have the Microsoft365 F3 license, which is a good fit for people who mostly work with patients and use dedicated medical software as their main application. F3 has web and mobile apps only.

While the comparison with the Microsoft E3 license (which most secretaries and staff have) clearly display most of the limitations of the F3, (albeit in the small print) there’s a few unmentioned “surprises” so let me list all that we have found so far, while providing support to our F3 collagues.

1. No desktop apps

This is the most obvious limitation. I think Word and Outlook for the web are both pretty good and getting better all the time, but some advanced functions are only available in the desktop apps, e.g. creation of scientific literature citations, or creation of a book index in Word.
An overview of the differences:

2. Storage for Outlook and OneDrive: 2 GB

Yes, it is mentioned quite clearly (also in our own support materials) but we regularly get questions from people who have almost reached the limit. All we can do is provide them with help to clean up their Outlook and OneDrive.

This is also the reason why I was not happy with the recent change to store Teams meeting recordings to OneDrive.

3. You can not upload a video to Stream

Just to be clear: F3 people can consume videos from Stream but not create them. It is mentioned in the comparison. I do not really get this. Are F3 users not expected to share any videos? Not even of training materials or a team get-together? We have a few colleagues who like to do vlogs for their colleagues – no Stream for them. 😢

Fortunately, OneDrive and SharePoint now have good video players so I guess it will not be a big problem, apart from the storage space allocation.
It does make me wonder what Stream is good for, then.

With the E3 and other licenses, there’s an upload option top right. No such thing for the F3.

4. Recorded Teams meetings go nowhere

We made the change from storage in Stream to OneDrive and SharePoint early, because we knew that F3-users can not upload anything to Stream. If an F3 recorded a meeting, they got an error message.
So we thought: “Well, OneDrive may not be optimal, but at least they will be able to store their recording in a good place. So let’s make the change, make them aware and suggest to move any recordings to SharePoint at their earliest convenience.”

The other day I recorded something with my F3 test account, and I was totally surprised to see that the recording did not go anywhere. It is in the meeting chat, with a message that it can be downloaded for 20 days.
The good news is that the recording can be saved. The bad news is that this is not as expected, and that people will need to take action to store it.

You need to download a recorded meeting.

5. You can not create a Live Event

This is not a major issue, as organizing a large online event will generally be done by a few selected roles. An executive secretary, our Convention Bureau, communications etc.
An F3 colleague can produce and present, however, as described in this post.

This has nothing to do with the difference between web or desktop app – everyone in our organization has the Teams desktop app.

6. You do not have the Delve app

This is not mentioned anywhere in the comparison, so this was also a surprise when we found this. It is not too much of a limitation, as you can get there via your Office profile.

7. Agenda sharing issues with E3-colleagues

If an F3 colleague shares his or her agenda with an E3-licensed colleague, e.g. a group secretary, the secretary can only edit the agenda when using the Outlook web app.
This may have to do with the fact that there is no “desktop equivalent” in the F3-agenda. It is annoying though, as our secretaries generally prefer to work with Outlook desktop. We are trying to convince them that the Outlook web app is a joy to use, but so far most of them stick to desktop. 😢

Do you know any more quirks?

I have deliberately not mentioned a number in the title. Please let me know in the comments if you know something else, so we can create a shared resource!

This is a great opportunity to use one of the more than gorgeous letters of Simon Koay’s Superbet. F = Flash!

Teams meeting recipes

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

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

Lobby, presenter/attendee roles and muting options.

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

1. The recurring team/update meeting

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

Who can bypass the lobby? People in my organization

Who can present? Everyone

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes

2. The formal meeting

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

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

Who can present? Specific people

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes

3. The group therapy session

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

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

Who can present? People in my organization

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes

4. The large team event

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

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

Who can present? Specific people.

Allow attendees to unmute: Yes.

5. The seminar, lecture, training, speech

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

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

Who can present? Specific people.

Allow attendees to unmute: No.

Conclusions

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

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

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

6 more lessons from Teams Live Events

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

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

But they already had a solution.

1. Switch less by making one big presentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Externals with a Microsoft365 account can present

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

6. Externals without a Microsoft365 account can not present

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

Expect more lessons!

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