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.

The importance of being Organizer

The person who organizes a Teams meeting has become more and more important over the last few months. Many recent improvements are available for the organizer only.

Yes, so what?

Indeed, many meetings can be done without the organizer being present. Our team’s daily call, for instance.

But it can be an issue for situations where you need special things and the organizer does not plan to attend the meeting, e.g. a secretary who plans meetings for the manager or other people in the team, or our Convention Bureau who organizes webinars as a service for our education institute.
In case you want to see who has attended a meeting, for instance, the organizer needs to be there to download the report. Also, the much awaited break-out room functionality can only be used by the organizer!

Unfortunately, the organizer role is not transferable, which also means that when the organizer of a recurring meeting changes roles, the meeting has to be cancelled and set up anew, especially if the audience of the meeting changes. While this has long since been the case for all meetings, with everyone meeting remotely with Teams it has become more visible. There’s a User Voice item to have the ability to transfer this role to someone else.

Awareness is key!

There’s not much we can do about it right now, except making everyone aware, that you need to think who will setup the meeting, especially the larger and more important events.

Microsoft has published a list of roles and responsibilities, but that is currently not complete. So I have created my own roles mapping for you to use. I will keep this updated as “who can do what” is important! (Please feel free to download for re-use)

Preview of what to expect when you open my document

Of course, options are not only depending on role, but also on the app used. Microsoft has an extensive overview for that.

But wait, there’s more:

During the creation of the list I found another variable:

  • Is the participant from your organization or not?
  • If not, do they have a Microsoft 365 account or not?

OK, so that’s my homework for next time! πŸ˜‰

Update November 22, 2020: I have posted my findings about this, and updated the roles mapping!

Title inspired by “The importance of being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.
I have once played the role of Lady Bracknell!
😁

Make your Teams meeting screen work for you

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

Seeing other participants in the meeting

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

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

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

Presenting yourself in the meeting

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

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

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

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

Looking at presentations

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

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

The regular view when someone shares a presentation with me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Presenter on Chrome:

This is what a presenter can do using the web app

And these are the options for the desktop app:

The desktop app has many more options

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

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!!!

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 πŸ˜„

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 πŸ™‚
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!

How to organize a webinar with Teams

TeamswebinarNow that the initial shock of working from home, and learning to work with Microsoft365, has been absorbed, I notice that my colleagues are quickly trying to get their work done “with the new tools”.

My organization is also a research and education institute for nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists and other therapists, so we have a lot of research, knowledge sharing and training going on in our core business.
Suddenly I am being called frequently by colleagues who are used to organize face-to-face events, but want to set up a webinar now.

For the larger and more formal events we advise Live Events (which I am currently trying to get proficient in), but for smaller and less formal events a regular Teams Meeting can be used as well.

My own experience

My colleague and I are still giving webinars on the various aspects of Teams almost every week, using a Teams Meeting.

These take an hour, have up to 10 people, can also be taken in the evenings, and we make sure everyone can ask their questions.Β They fill up rather quickly!
We generally do a personal introduction round for all, then present a few explanatory slides, give a demo, recap what we have shown, and ask for final questions.
We have found that people like to sign up, because not only does it give them an opportunity to learn new things, brush up their skills, or allows them to ask their questions, but also because they like to connect with their colleagues, who they have not seen for more than two months by now. So it is fulfilling a social need, too!

For those situations a regular Teams Meeting does the work, so here’s how to organize that.

1. Create a Form to collect submissions

We have a professional tool available for the larger and more complicated events, but for smaller and impromptu webinars you can use a Form.
Just create one and share it with a colleague (as a back-up).
If you have internal attendees only, collect names and emails automatically.

Teamswebinar-internal
For internal purposes, this is the quickest option

If you have externals joining too, please make sure you use the setting “Anyone with the link can respond” and ask for (at least) their email address.

Teamswebinar-external
This is the option if you also have externals joining. Remember to add a field to collect the email address!

2. Communicate your event in the regular way

If you are sending emails, publishing on internet or intranet, you can add the link to the Form (or to the formal system) to collect responses.
If you are using printed materials (wall posters, flyers) you can add the QR code to the Form.

The Form will give you a spreadsheet with email addresses.

3. Schedule the Teams meeting

You can do this from Outlook or from Teams.

If you want to send the standard invitation to everyone, you’d better use Outlook as I have found this works better with contact persons, email distribution lists or Excel files with email addresses. Also, if you want to hide people’s email addresses, use Outlook.
You can add an attachment with meeting instructions – I liked this one for external users. How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guest

If you want to use another way of communication (e.g. an email with instructions and some more information), you can best use Teams, invite your presenters only and then add the link to the meeting to the rest of the information.

Teamswebinar-meetinglink
Just hover over the Join-text, rightclick and Copy Link to get the link to the meeting.

This post will tell you more on the pros and cons of Teams or Outlook when scheduling.

If your webinar involves breakout sessions, where attendees can discuss or work on an assignment together, you may want to check out this post for the creation of breakout rooms.

4. Set correct controls to your Teams meeting

For a presentation for a large audience including external attendees I would suggest to add a lobby for externals, and make sure everyone except the presenter(s) enters the meeting as an attendee.
Arrange the lobby and presenter settings as explained in my earlier post.

5. Send links and instructions

If you have used Outlook, you will have done this already, but in case you want to send a different email than the standard invitation, you can add the link as grabbed under 3 and add instructions. For internals it may not be necessary (although it may not hurt) and for externals you can use something like these:Β  a link or as a PDF: How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guestΒ 

6. Prepare and rehearse

  • In most cases presenters will share a PowerPoint presentation, and it is a good idea to make a PDF version as a handout. We usually share these via the chat during the webinar. Be aware that external attendees can not access the chat when they have logged off, so tell them when you are sharing it.
  • If presenters are giving a web demo, it helps to have a script, so they know what they are going to show. They should keep the script visible.
    Making screenshots of the screens they plan to show (in case the internet or wifi drops, or the website is suddenly unavailable) is always a good idea.
  • And if they want to demo something on your phone, here’s how to do that.

7. Do a technical test run

It is always a good idea to practice a presentation a few times, but if the presenter is new to Teams it is essential that (s)he also does a “technical” test run to find out how to

  • share a screen or a presentation and switch between them
  • blur or change backgrounds
  • manage attendees
  • use the chat and the “raise hand” option
  • include system sounds like the sound from video’s, etc.

Teamswebinar-systemaudio
Make sure you check the “include system audio” box when you want to play a video or other sound.

If you have externals joining, invite one or two along for the test to see if it all works for them.

You may want to think about a custom Help background, as described by Phil Whitehead in this video, to help attendees use Teams.

8. Check audio and video just before the event

On the day of the event, the presenter clicks the link to the meeting well before time.

The Teams app has a Test call option, to check if audio has been set up correctly. Type /testcall in the Command bar and you will be taken to that old test call we know and ❀ from Skype. You will even receive a report!

Teamswebinar-testcall
So happy to have that Test call option back! You can do this from anywhere in Teams.

Of course the presenters have also turned off all kinds of sounds and on-screen notifications. You don’t want to know the email previews I have seen arriving while people were presenting. 😜

Please also ask presenters to check their hair, clothes and background before people enter the meeting. Of course they can blur or select a background, but it helps if they know they are not sitting in front of that flipover with the upcoming reorganisation or divestiture written out.

Ask them to close all tabs and programmes that they do not need today, so they do not run the risk of accidentally sharing something confidential or embarrassing.

Sonia Cuff recently published a good blog on being a remote presenter.

9. Good luck!

  • When the webinar starts, organizer or presenter gives everyone access from the lobby.
  • Once everyone is in, you or the presenter may want to instruct attendees on using the mute buttons and the chat and the “raise hand” function, if you are not using that Help background.
  • Tell people when you share the handout.
  • The organizer may want to download the attendance report during the webinar.

What have I missed?

Is there anything you would like to add?

 

What to think about when organizing a Teams meeting?

TeamsinviteOf course we all know how to schedule a Teams meeting in Teams and how to do it in Outlook.Β 

Over the past few weeks I have found out that there is a preference for one or the other. And, there’s more!

Teams or Outlook?

If you are scheduling a meeting with people from your organization, Teams is the fastest option. You do not have to think to make it a Teams meeting (although I saw on the Roadmap that soon, meetings scheduled in Outlook will be Teams meetings by default) and you can also select a channel to meet in.

Teamsinvite-quickanddirty
The invitation from Teams – quick and dirty

However, if you want to invite people from outside your organization, you’d better use Outlook.

  1. πŸ‘Ž You will need to toggle that Teams Meeting switch (for now)
  2. πŸ‘ You can prohibit forwarding (although that appears only to work for Microsoft email users)
  3. πŸ‘ You can hide the email addresses from others, which may be a privacy requirement
  4. πŸ‘ You can add an attachment, such as instructions on how to join. (Found this on LinkedIn the other day – does anyone know where it lives? How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guest)
  5. πŸ‘ Outlook can auto-complete external email addresses if you have used them before

Teamsthinkabout-outlook
Outlook simply has more options when you use it for invitations to a Teams meeting.

Of course those benefits go for internal meetings as well, but they are extra useful for externals.

Do I schedule it myself or can I ask someone else?

In my organization many departments have a group mailbox. It is quite common for the department secretary to organize the meetings on demand, from the group mailbox, in Outlook. My colleague and I also use our group mailbox to schedule our webinars in Outlook, as group mailboxes do not have a license and hence no Teams to schedule it from.

The first time we forgot to invite ourselves, which meant we did not have the meeting in our agenda and we could not get into the meeting from Teams. πŸ™‚Β  Of course we quickly sorted that out, but you may want to tell people to always invite everyone with their personal account.

The organizer does not have to attend the meeting per se. As long as there is at least one presenter (from the host organization) to let people from the lobby into the meeting, the meeting can proceed.

However, only the organizer can

Teamsorg-endmeeting
“End meeting” is only visible for the organizer.

So: yes, someone else can schedule the meeting for you, but if you need any form of special control, it is best if you schedule the meeting yourself!

You may be able to change some of this behaviour by changing the meeting policies in the Teams admin center but to be honest, I have not dived into that yet.

Any other suggestions?

What are your top tips for scheduling Teams meetings?

 

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Teams meetings for non-business users – invitations

Teamsclient-headerTeams may have originally been intended as a business-to-business meeting and collaboration tool, it is now, in COVID-19 times, used heavily for all kinds of gatherings. The education sector is using it big time, my own organization is using it temporarily as a group therapy session tool, and I use it to meet with my fellow “citizen activists” who want to keep our lovely home town a great place to live in for real people.

So, right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”

The fun part when you use Teams for “consumers’ is the variety of systems that people use – devices, browsers, email clients. So, I tried a few things, starting from my own Office365/Microsoft365 tenant.

I created a meeting from Outlook Online, as described earlier.

  • It does not show attendees
  • You can not forward the invitation
  • Externals need to wait in the lobby
  • Externals are an attendee, not a presenter

I sent this to various online emailclients: Outlook.com, Gmail.com, Yahoo.com

I opened the mailboxes with various browsers on laptop and the Outlook one on Iphone and Ipad.

I looked at the invitation and accepted the meeting (where possible).

What does the invitation look like?

Teamsclient-OutlookChrome
Laptop/Outlook.com mail. This invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. The yellow bar mentions that the invitation can not be forwarded. (in Dutch)

Teamsclient-YahooFirefox
Laptop/Yahoo mail. Invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer shows a basic version. There is no Accept/Tentative/Decline option and no mention of the non-forwarding. And what is that silly logo next to my name?

Teamsclientgmailchrome
Laptop/Gmail. Invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. There is an option to respond, but no mention about the non-forwarding. Although the time is technically correct, it is not the “natural” Dutch time and I could not find a way to correct it.

Teamsclient-outlookapple
iOS: Outlook.com mail via Apple Mail app. Yikes, this is all you get. The top says: this message is plain text, download the full message. If you do that, you get this:

Teamsclient-outlookappleexplanded1

Teamsclient-outlookappleexpanded2
Well, double Yikes. While iOS is usually so cool and user-friendly, this is awful. You have to download the message to make sense of it, and then you get a ton of ugly links and then at the bottom your instructions and the .ics file. No mention of the non-forwarding.

Teamsclient-outlookandroid
Android. Microsoft365 account, Outlook app. Response options but no mention of the non-forwarding.

What have I found so far?

  • Do not expect a response message if you are inviting external non-business users. I did not receive any responses except from the Microsoft365 user, even though I did accept the meeting on Gmail and Outlook.com.
  • Invitations to Gmail often go into the Spam box, especially when I used the “hide meeting attendees” option. You may want to check with your externals that they have seen the invitation.
  • Check if the meeting is on the right date and time on the receiver’s end. If people have their mailbox on a different timezone, they may want to adjust it.
    Or in case of Gmail, do they realize that the time is in UTC and what UTC means?Β 
  • Tell people that the invitation may move out of their inbox after accepting or declining it and that they can find it in their Deleted Items if they want to keep it.Β 
  • Sending an invitation does not mean that the date and time are added to the Calendar option of the email client automatically. In some case you need to download the .ics file (which not everybody may understand) or specify to the email client that invitations should always be added to your calendar.
  • “Do not forward” appears to work only within Microsoft email – the option to forward is greyed out in Outlook, but the emails sent to Yahoo and Gmail could be forwarded and the recipient could enter the meeting. ☹
  • Please note that I have an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with current versions of browsers – be aware that non-business users may have different setups and different versions!

Do not assume!

In other words, do not assume that everything will work in the same way as with your external business contacts. Your “consumer” audience has a much larger variety in devices, mail clients, updates and browsers than your business contacts (who in many cases use Outlook, if not the full Microsoft 365suite). Your “consumer” audience may also be less exposed to formal meetings and be not as tech savvy – or be more savvy with other systems than Microsoft365.

Next time, I will discuss what happens when you click on the meeting link.Β 

Using OneNote during a conference

OneNotevisual

It all started out with a tweet by Simon Bisson:

I really liked that idea but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.

The day before the conference

  • Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
  • If you have never used the camera option of OneNote on your phone, make sure you know where to find it, and practice by photographing something, e.g. your PC screen, with the automatic edge detection and cropping.
  • Create a notebook for conferences.
  • Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.

    OneNote-booksetup
    I have created a Section for the Connect conference, and have one page per session.
  • Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
  • Clean the camera lens on your phone πŸ™‚

Before each session

  • Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
  • Create a page for the next session
  • Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page

During the session

  • Make notes on your tablet/PC
  • Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when the purple lines are around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
  • The picture captured in the purple lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.

    OneNoteinpage
    I took the picture, focusing on the slide, and this was added to the page. See below for the original photo.

After the conference

  • Process your notes like you are used to.
  • Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.

    OneNote-original image
    This is the original picture which stays on your phone and takes up space.

Conclusion

I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes πŸ™‚ . I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.