Lessons from producing my first Teams Live Event

Recently I “produced” my first Live Event in Teams: a symposium with the project presentations of three of our students.
The organisation expected around 100 attendees, so I tried to push them towards the regular Teams Meeting with some extra control measures (see my earlier post). But they really liked the moderated Q&A, so a Live Event it had to be.
As I need to learn to work with this anyway, I suggested to be the producer, so I could create procedures and scripts so they know how to do this themselves afterwards.

How a Live Event works

Scheduling a Live Event is easy, however I find being a producer quite some work. Tracy’s video makes it all appear fairly simple, but to be honest, I have been struggling a bit with this tool and needed a number of tests to get to grips with it. Perhaps it was our complex setup, perhaps I need more practice.

What have I learned?

1. Give your event a good title

When your audience is entering the event, and the event has not started, all they see is the title of the meeting. Make it a clear one.

2. The producer should just produce

Although you can be producer AND presenter, I would advise against mixing these roles unless you are an experienced one-person-show. If there is a welcome or break slide to be shared, leave it to someone else.
When you (producer) share content or your desktop you do not see your dashboard, which makes it hard to do your work as a producer. And when you go back forgetting to stop sharing you will end up with a very annoying caleidoscope effect. If you do stop sharing there will be an annoying message that the Event will continue soon. You can not win.

I am sure an experienced producer/presenter can avoid this but I still do not know how – I can share a presentation but sooner or later this shows.

3. Keep the # of presenters to a minimum

When I did my first Live Event, a number of people were interested to see how it worked so I added them as a presenter. That provided some challenges as I could not see them all on my 13″ laptop screen, hence I could not select their video to show.
Additionally, during one of the breaks one of the “curious extra’s” decided to move to another room, accidentally sharing her screen. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ She did not have her earbuds in, nor was she looking at the chat, so we could not warn her that her living room was visible for all to see. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The presenters are shown bottom right and on a smaller screen, you can not see them all, and therefore you can not select their video!

4. Schedule a separate Live Event as a test run

As this was new to everyone we decided to do a test-run a few days before the meeting. You need to create a new Event for that, as you can only “use” a Live Event once.

5. Have as few transitions as possible

Transitions are a bit of a logistical nightmare. I had expected that when the next presenter shares their screen, that would pop up in the Queue, so I could add the speaker’s video and set it all Live at the right moment.
But it does not happen that way – presenters generally override their predecessor’s screen during the event, causing a need for the producer to frantically switch to the correct presenter. Or, they stopped presenting and then their face filled the screen.
So try to limit the number of transitions to keep your producer’s sanity ๐Ÿ˜‰

6. Test starts, stops and transitions

We really needed this as presenters had no clue as to what to expect. So we went through the programme of welcome talk, first speaker, etc. People could practice how to share their screen, when to stop, how transitions worked, what they had to look out for, what not to do, etc.

7. Invite an attendee to ask questions

It helps to have an attendee in the test run to ask a few questions, so new presenters can learn how to handle the Q&A’s.

8. Use “desktop” rather than “content” for sharing (depending on setup)

We found that the following combination resulted in “flickering tabs” which is a major distraction:

  • Using Google Chrome as a browser
  • Using PowerPoint Online for your presentation
  • Selecting “content” rather than “desktop” for sharing

So: ask people to present with PowerPoint desktop app (if they have that) or ask them to share their desktop.
Or use Microsoft Edge, of course. ๐Ÿ˜

9. Create a script

It may be good to have a timetable with who does what when and the timing of the breaks. It was good for the presenters but also for the producer, as I could then check when I needed focus and when I could relax a bit.

10. The “crew” needs the Teams Desktop App

One of the presenters logged into the test meeting via the web app and she entered the meeting as an attendee. Fortunately all our employees now have the Teams desktop app so all of us can produce or present Live Events (despite the fact that 90% of my colleagues have an F3 license, which is web + mobile apps only).

11. Make sure the producer has a large screen or monitor

As mentioned in item 3, I needed a larger screen to see all presenters, but also to see the Live result better. If your screen is too small, you will get prompts to expand your screen. Fortunately, I have an extra 23″ monitor.

Suggestion to change my screen.

12. Teach presenters how to unmute

EVERY presenter forgot to unmute themselves, so I had to jump in and ask them to unmute. ๐Ÿ™ It was nerves, I get that, but I did not like having to intervene. However, I later heard people actually appreciated me jumping in, as it showed that someone was noticing, saving a lot of questions in the Q&A.

13. Avoid having an audience in the same room as the presenters

Our students really wanted to have some family in the room, so they would not have to talk into a void, but it posed extra issues:

  • Due to the delay that a Live Event has (about 1 minute) in image and sounds it was impossible to project the Live Event in the room with the presenters.
  • Therefore we needed an extra person to click through the presentations from a separate laptop in the room. We could perhaps have duplicated the laptop screen but it would have to be changed between speakers and I know that some situations/laptops do not support duplication.
  • I was producing from home, and I did not exactly know what tech was available in the convention room, which made it difficult to explain to the presenters what to do in the room (which was not my responsibility anyway – that was producing this Live Event)
  • Presenters got easily distracted by the audience so the MC’s had to make sure everyone was back at their laptops in time for the next presentation – while this will also happen in a physical-only situation it is less annoying there as everyone can clearly see what is going on. People online do not see that.
  • Your laptop’s microphone is not good enough in this situation – it usually sounds rather tinny and will pick up sounds from the surroundings and that can cause an annoying reverb – so your producer must mute you. Presenters, use a headset and keep it plugged into your computer at all times!
  • The presenters also had to find a good position in the room with a good background, which needed time during set-up.
  • Questions from the room could not be heard and needed repeating by the MC, which they sometimes forgot. Which led to Q&A’s.

14. Learn basic sign language

This may seem silly, but as everything the presenters and producers say when you are Live is audible for everyone online, you can not really talk about things, and not everyone was watching chat all the time. So sometimes I wished I know sign language to tell people “get ready to present the break slide” or “unmute”.

15. Producer, mute yourself when going live

Do not say “Here goes” or something similar when you Go Live, because it will be recorded in the video. Guess how I know this? ๐Ÿ˜‚

16. Download the attendance report during or immediately after closing the event

When someone from the “crew” enters the Event after it has closed, it will overwrite the attendance report. By the way, the official word is “Attendee engagement report”.

17. The “crew” can only view the recording from the web app, even when they use the Attendee link

If they click the Attendee link and select the desktop app, they go into the “back end” of the meeting, overwriting the attendance report. See item 15.

18. The video lives in Azure, not in Stream

Do not look for the video in Stream – it is not there. You can download it from the meeting information and upload to Stream if you want to make it available for longer term. (It is available on Azure for 180 days)

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

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

There’s some good Microsoft info about post-event actions.

And if you know of a way to make transitions smoother, please let me know! If you have any other “gotcha’s” to share, they are welcome too!

Liven up your Live Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome slide

You use this to welcome people in the meeting well before it starts. Make sure you post the name of the meeting, the programme, perhaps how to handle the Q&A and anything else that is relevant. You may even rotate two slides or use an animation to inform people their screen is not frozen ๐Ÿ˜„

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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! ๐Ÿ˜ )

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.ย 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:ย  a link or as a PDF: How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guestย 

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 โค 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. ๐Ÿ˜œ

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.ย 

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. ๐Ÿ‘Ž You will need to toggle that Teams Meeting switch (for now)
  2. ๐Ÿ‘ You can prohibit forwarding (although that appears only to work for Microsoft email users)
  3. ๐Ÿ‘ You can hide the email addresses from others, which may be a privacy requirement
  4. ๐Ÿ‘ 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. ๐Ÿ‘ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  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?

 

[Have you made it to the end? Thank you! Hope you did not miss the advertising ๐Ÿ˜]

 

 

Teams meetings for non-business users – the meeting

Teamsmeeting-3Right 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 or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”

This time we will look at the meeting experience.

We started with a variety of email programmes, which all give different views and results. But all emails contain the link to the meeting, which is just a link, albeit a long and non-intuitive one. So in the end, everyone uses the same link in a browser or in the app. Let’s see what that brings.

I have the following people in my meeting:

  • Myself, as the organiser and presenter, joining from my own tenant, initially via web (Edge), later through the app on my laptop
  • Gerald Adams, an attendee joining from web (Chrome)
  • Kim, an attendee joining from the Windows 10 app, not signed in
  • Ellen iPhone, an attendee joining from iPhone
  • My work’s account, joining as attendee from the Windows 10 app, signed in.

Prepare for an awesome (or awful if you do not like long posts) amount of screenshots!

1. Organiser/Presenter – web

So, this is what I see when I join the meeting on the web – the latest version of Edge.

Teamsmeeting-enterorgweb
You see that I do not have an option to blur or change background – I must be on the web!

Gerald is already waiting for me in the lobby:

Teamsmeeting-Geraldinlobby
It is very clear that people are waiting in the lobby.

And this is what I see when I start sharing my screen

Teamsmeeting-orgwebshare
What the presenter sees when they start to share screens.

When my presentation is shared I take a look at the options (click on … in the bar)

teamsmeeting-OrganizerEdgescreen
You see that in the browser I do not have the option to blur or change background – please compare that with the app version below.

When I look at the people in the meeting I see that most of my “external attendees” have entered as a Guest, except Ellen van Aken (outside of your organisation) who has joined from another Office365-account. I can also invite other people, and mute all of them.

Teamsmeeting-EllenorgEdgePeople
This is what the organizer/presenter sees when opening the People pane.

The presenter can also manage people individually, this is independent of web or app. I can make either people from other organizations (business users, in this case) or Guests a presenter or an attendee again, or I can mute or remove a person from the meeting.
I can also pin a person, which means I will always see that person when they have their camera on and nobody is sharing a screen, regardless of who’s talking.

2. Organizer/Presenter – app

What do I see when I join via the desktop app and signed in? I have some more options: meeting notes, background effects, the option for Live Captions and End meeting. (I can also check my audio settings before I join)

Teamsmeeting-EllenOrgAppScreen
I have a few more options when I join in the app.

 

Not shown here, because I am sharing a presentation and Kim, Gerald and myself were on the same PC: with the desktop app (and the mobile app) you can see 4 people if you have the camera on, with the web only 1 person. That is where the pinning comes in handy. I can not wait until we will see 9 people!

3. Attendee – web

Gerald is the one attending via Chrome. This is what he sees: a greyed-out Sharing screen, and fewer options in his meeting menu (or whatever that popup behind the … is called)

Teamsmeeting-GeraldChromescreen
This is what an attendee sees when joining through Chrome (which shows the same as Edge, by the way)

Teamsmeeting-GeraldChromepeople
An attendee can only see who is there, but not their role. Nor can they do something.

4. Attendee – app

Kim is using the app without sign-in, as she does not have an Office365 account. What does that look like? She can not share her screen and has one extra option compared to the web attendee. (However, she will see 4 people when there is no screen sharing and people have their webcam on)

Teamsmeeting-KimAppAttendee
Kim’s menu shows background effects options, but otherwise it looks just like the other attendee on the web. She can also not share her screen.

Teamsmeeting-KimAppPeoplescreen
The People popup shows the same as for the attendee on the web.

5. Attendee – iPhone

The meeting experience on the iPhone is different again. Please note the attendee is not signed in to the app. Top right you see chat and people options. There’s no “share” button, not even greyed out.

TeamsmeetingiPhone1
iPhone experience.

When you click the 3 dots in the meeting control bar, you have even fewer options than a regular attendee: just “put me on hold”, “keypad” and “turn off incoming video”.

Teamsmeeting-iPhone2
Translation of these 3 items is above. In any case, very few options with the iPhone, not signed in.

6. Attendee – Business User

It was a bit of a juggle to get this meeting together with all these people (all of them ME) and all these devices and options.ย  But a second user, with Office365 account and a fully-fledged laptop, was easily available (again: ME at work) so for comparison’s sake: here goes.

Teamsmeeting-EllenwerkAppScreen
Business attendee can not share screen, but has more options than a non-business user: the Live Captions option is available. And everything is in Dutch ๐Ÿ™‚

Conclusions

The meeting experience is very similar for all attendees, regardless of how they got there.

There is hardly any difference between a Guest (someone without Office365 account, not logged in) and Someone outside your organization (an external business user with Office365 account, logged in). The only difference is that the organizer/presenter can see who’s what.

The role is the largest differentiator – if you are a presenter, you can simply do much more than when you are an attendee. See the differences here.

There are some differences between web and desktop app. The main advantages of the desktop app are

  • 4 people visible instead of 1 (when you have cameras turned on).
    This has been a BIG issue in my organization, especially for our therapists doing online group therapy sessions. Most of our therapists have an F3-license, which means they can only do web and only see 1 person. We have suggested they also log in with their phone to see 4 more people. We have now installed the desktop app for them as well but we are still looking for another tool that shows more people. I really can not wait until Microsoft finally rolls out the 3 x 3 view!
  • The option to blur or change backgrounds.
  • The option to do a Test call.
  • Live Captions. As these are currently only available in English, this is not relevant for my organization right now, but it may be a big plus for others.

The iPhone experience is sufficient, but sparse.

My suggestion would be to tell your non-business users to use the web version. I would only suggest to download the app when

  • it is important to see 4 people
  • a non-business user is the presenter (so they can adjust their background)
  • when they join on iPhone.

Joining on the web will probably be easiest for them, especially if they are not very savvy. Perhaps you can just send them the link in an email, instead of the official Outlook invitation, and tell them to open the link in Chrome or Edge (new versions).

Agree?

Teams meetings for non-business users – getting into the meeting

Teamsclient-header2Right 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 or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”

In my former post we discussed the email invitation to the Teams meeting for non-business users, and how it can differ depending on device and email client.
This time, we will look at getting to the meeting.

It’s the browser, baby!

In this part of the process the main difference is not in the email programme, but in the browser that people use.ย  I have added a ton of screenshots so you know what participants can expect.

I use an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with up-to-date browsers. This may already be different from what your “consumer” users have. I have no Mac, but I have used an iPad and an iPhone.

In the invitation you will see the link to join the meeting.

Teamsclient-joinmeeting
The link. Please note you can copy the link and share it with others.

1. What happens when you click on the link?

a. Firefox and Internet Explorer

If you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer as your browser, you will get the message that those browsers do not support Teams and a nudge to move to Edge OR to download the app.

Teamsclient-JoinfromFirefox
You are pushed to use Microsoft Edge or download the appEnter a caption

b. Edge or Chrome

If you are using Edge (the new one) or Chrome, you will get this nudge to either download the app or to join on the web:

Teams-gmail-chrome
You will have to make a decision: download the app or join on the web.

I have occasionally seen this image, which is the new experience, or so I think:

Teams-yahoo-chrome
I think this is the new experience – it is more obvious you have 3 options

c. Safari on iPad

If you use this, you will get a similar screen as for Internet Explorer or Firefox, except that you will only have “Get the Teams app” as suggestion.

Teamsclient-ipad
Safari does not support this – downloading the app is the only suggestion you get.

d. Safari on iPhone

If you are on an iPhone you will get a warning that Safari does not support it, and a nudge to download the app.

Teamsclient-iphonedownload
It’s in Dutch but I guess you will understand that you are nudged to download the Teams app

2. What happens when you join on the web?

a. Edge or Chrome

When you have decided to open Edge or Chrome (if you are using Chrome as your default browser) you will get to this screen. You are requested to enter your name and click “Join Now”. Look at the bottom, where you are again enticed to sign in (if you have a Microsoft account) or to download the app.

Teamscliententermeeting
Strangely enough the name of the meeting is not shown. Enter name, select camera and phone settings and click “Join Now”.

After clicking “Join Now” you get into the lobby. As you may know, recently Microsoft changed the default settings for all meetings to “People outside your organization will have to wait in the lobby”. While I agree with this setting, especially now that so many new (and often non-business) people are using Teams, it led to a lot of questions in my organization because we had just been telling everyone that by default everyone could get into your meeting immediately. ๐Ÿ˜ค

TeamsClient-lobby
The lobby

In any case, you will enter the meeting as a Guest with the role that the organizer has given you.ย 

If you have a paid subscription to Microsoft365 it is worth signing in, because you will get the full web experience. The link to the meeting is accessible for everyone, so you can just sign in even if your Microsoft365 account has a different email address than the one that you have been invited with.

3. What happens when you download the app?

a. Laptop (Windows 10)

Downloading and opening the app can take a few minutes, so you may want to warn your newbies to start early or do a test run well before the meeting.ย 

Once you have the app installed, and you click the meeting link from your email, you can use the “launch it now” button or your browser will ask you to open the link in the app. Internet Explorer just opens the app.

TeamsClient-chromeandapp
Chrome and app

TeamsClient-firefoxandapp
Firefox and app

TeamsClient-edgeandapp
Edge and app

Once the app has opened, you will be requested to add your name and click “Join Now”, like when you join on the web. Please note that the app has two extra features:

  • You can enter the meeting with a blurred or custom background (the toggle between camera and microphone)
  • You can check your microphone by clicking on “PC Mic and Speakers” and then selecting “Test Call”. (Functionality that I know and โค from Skype)

Teamsclient-enterwithapp
Some extra functionality when you join a meeting with the Teams app.

You will enter the lobby as usual.

TeamsClient-applobby
Again, you will see the extra options that the app has to offer. While you are waiting, why not select a nice background! ๐Ÿ˜„

If you download the app and you do not sign in with a Microsoft account, you will enter the meeting as a Guest with the role that the organizer has given you.ย 

b. iPhone.

If I download the app on my iPhone, give permission to use the microphone, and click that horrible long link from my email, it will ask me if I want to open the link with Teams and then I get this message (Time to meet):

Teamsclient-iphoneintomeeting
You can enter as a guest or again, sign in.

After entering your name and clicking Participate you will get the lobby message, which looks similar to the ones above.

TeamsClient-lobbyiphone
iPhone lobby message (in Dutch)

c. iPad

On my iPad the “Open in Teams?” message did not happen so I could not make the switch from my email to the app. I was also forced to sign in with an account, which is not the purpose of this exercise. Anyone out here who had more luck?
Copying the link to the meeting and pasting it into the Edge app on my iPad worked. It switched over to the app and I could enter as a guest, with the same image as above for iPhone (but wider).

What have I found so far?

  • Your non-business participants do not need to have a Microsoft account to participate.
  • You do not need to download the app on your PC, as you can participate on the web if you use Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome as your browser.
  • Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox can not be used for a Teams meeting.
  • If you do not have a Microsoft account (or if you do not sign in with it), you will have to enter a name when you log on, and you will participate as a Guest.
  • The Teams mobile app is a must if you want to take part from an iPhone.
  • Both the mobile and desktop apps may take a few minutes to download and install, so always ask your participants to download and test-drive well in advance, or start at least 10 minutes before the meeting.
  • The desktop app will give you more options such as the custom backgrounds and the option to do a test call.
  • If you have an external presenter or discussion leader, strongly suggest to use a laptop and download the desktop app as the extra options will be very useful especially for them.

Next time, we will look at the meeting experience.

 

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?ย 
  • 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.ย 
  • 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. โ˜น
  • 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.ย 

Take control of your Teams meeting

Teamstherapy-headerOur health care organization has gone a step further in using Teams.

Our dedicated (non-Microsoft) software for helping our clients online was just (=before COVID-19) being rolled out with various amounts of success. Some people loved it, and saw the benefits for both client and therapist (no need to travel for both parties, client being in their own environment, connection with the client registration systems), others said they needed the face-to-face meetings to be able to provide real help.

Now that we have had to move all therapy online, we found a functionality gap in the software: the option to use this for group sessions, either multiple therapists seeing one client, or sessions with one therapist and several clients.

After discussing various options we agreed to make Teams temporarily available for this purpose, so our therapists can finalise the existing group therapies, and perhaps even start new ones.

Microsoft Teams is a business tool and meant for collaboration in an organisational context. Mental health therapy is something completely different, so we had to create special instructions:

1. Create the invitation

  • Create the invitation from Outlook Online, NOT from Teams.
  • Add the relevant title, attendees, date and time, and message info.
  • Make sure you make this a Teams meeting.
  • Before sending, click the “Response Options” top right and select “Hide attendee list”.
    Optionally, you can also UNselect “Allow forwarding” to avoid uninvited people getting into your group session.
  • As soon as you have made a choice, the popup will go away, so it is a good idea to check if you have made the right selections.
  • Click Send.

Teamstherapy-response options
Make sure to hide the attendee list, so clients do not see eachother’s email addresses.ย  Also, do not forget to toggle the Teams meeting button!

Alternatively you can add the attendees to the BCC field, but as this field is not visible by default, it means people will have to change their Outlook settings. Using “Hide attendee list” is easier.
Those who use the Outlook desktop (in our case: hardly any therapist has this) can use the BCC field or add the users as a Resource. This is a bit of a weird workaround in my opinion. Just use Outlook Online, it is great!

Now, if the invitation is sent, the attendees will see only their own name in the invitation, which is a privacy requirement in this situation.
If you have also disabled the “Forward invitation” option, this will be displayed on the invitation, depending on the recipient’s email programme.

2. Manage meeting options

By default, everyone can go into the meeting freely, and everyone can present. (Update 15-04-2020: the default is now that externals will have to wait in the lobby. Good idea.) While this is the easiest setting for regular business purposes, it is not always the best option. We have heard about Teams meetings in education, where pupils muted the teacher and/or changed his/her role into attendee or even threw each other out of the meeting altogether!

So, in our situation it may be best to prevent any issues and provide a little more control to the therapist(s). The following can only be done by the person who has organised the meeting.

  • Open the meeting in your Teams calendar
  • Click the Meeting Options, to the right of the time zones OR on the bottom of the invitation underneath the link to the meeting. (see the Outlook screenshot below)

Teamstherapy-meetingoptions
I prefer this button to adjust meeting options.

  • Change the lobby settings to: “People in my organization”ย  (so you can discuss with your colleague before you allow everyone into the meeting)
  • Change the presenter settings to anything except Everyone. “People in my organization” is a good one.
    This will make all others an attendee, and they can only use audio, video and chat. (Roles description by Microsoft)
  • Click Save.

TeamsControl-meetingoptions
I suggest the settings above if you have non-presenting external users.

This can also be done from the invitation in Outlook:

Teamstherapy-optionsOutlook
At the bottom you will find the meeting options. Please note you are reminded that you have hidden the list of attendees.

3. Change roles during the meeting

During the meeting you can also have some control and change roles.

  • Click on the people icon in the meeting control bar
    Teamstherapy-meetingbar
  • You will now see the list of participants. You can now
    • Mute everyone

      TeamsTherapy-muteall
      As a presenter, you can mute everyone (except yourself) in one go.
  • You can also manage individual attendees by clicking on the … behind their name
    • Mute
    • Make them a presenter (and later an attendee again)
    • Remove someone from the meetingTeamstherapy-presenteroptions

Steven Collier has made a nice video where he explains “Teams-bombing” and the prevention thereof (items 2 and 3) with an example of a rebellious student.

4. Avoid “private viewing” of your presentation

If you are sharing a presentation, by default people are allowed to click through at their own pace. While many people will not know where that option is, it may be a good idea to switch that off, especially if your presentation has a carefully designed build-up.

Click the ellipses in the meeting control bar and click “Show device settings”. A panel with camera and microphone settings will pop up, as well as a toggle to change the presentation flip-through option from On to Off.

TeamsControl-presentation
By default this setting is turned ON (the button will then be green) .

5. End the meeting

If you want to make sure that the conversation stops when the meeting ends, you can “End meeting” which will stop all audio and video. The chat will still be accessible and can still be used.

Teamsclient-endmeeting
Just click the … on the meeting bar and click “End Meeting”.

Conclusion

The default settings of Teams may be a little too “flexible” for non-business purposes. Fortunately there are many options to have more control.

Mind you, you as my regular audience will probably know all of this, but our therapists generally know only the basics of Office365 (oh, I need to say Microsoft365 now, right?) and they need detailed instructions, as they have to schedule these sessions themselves.

Next time, I will discuss the user interface for various email programmes. I have had a ton of questions about what clients see and I want to make sure I can answer that properly.

Teams, Teams, Teams!

TeamsteamsteamsWe were prepared…

We had updated our instructions for working from home, either with work laptop, work smartphone, private computer or private smartphone, because everyone has to work from home, where possible, until further notice.

We had created and tested instructions for Teams chat, calls, videocalls and online meetings, internally and externally, because of course many meetings would shift to online.

Our support team was ready to take calls and take over people’s laptops from home, our netwerk had been tested, and everyone knew we would have a lot of questions starting Monday.

We are a mental health care organization, and our psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, nurses and care-takers have chosen their jobs because they want to work with people, not with computers. We knew they would have many questions when they suddenly had to do intakes and consulting sessions online, or organize a Teams meeting for their daily handover meeting.
So, we were prepared!

…Or were we?

However, we were not prepared for the lack of digital skills of some of our work force, some of whom did not know how to download an app from the app store, how to open the Office365 start page (it is actually a button in the Start Menu), or that they have to slide their web cam cover open in order to show their face to their colleagues during a videocall ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

We were also not prepared for the number of people that attempted to download the Teams app, while they have the F1 license (which is for web apps only). But can you blame people that they click the most visible button, especially at times of hurry or digital stress?
We have all voted in User Voice – please vote as well and help us get that “Get the Windows app” off the start page – or at least make it less dominant!

Teams-button
Most of our users can not download the Windows app – they can only use the web app. But that “Get the Windows app” button is so dominant, that everyone clicks it.

And it was a complete surprise to get an overwhelming number of Team site requests. We thought everyone had been informed well enough that a Team site is not a prerequisite for organizing a Teams meeting. But my colleague and I were flooded by requests. Even after filtering out exact requirements we still had to create tons of Team sites (we create them centrally to have at least some control over the names of Groups) and improvised a number of “Team site for owners” and “Team site for members” webinar sessions to quickly show all those new users how Teams can help them get their work done in an effective way.

Some of my colleagues were not prepared to have their whole family at home, as schools have closed as well, and everyone needed a place where they can work or learn.
This resulted in some of my colleagues preferring to do part of their work in the evenings, when children are in bed, the network is used less, and a proper seat and table does not need fighting over. Which led to a meeting in the evening and we will do some webinars in the evening next week, because many colleagues are in the same situation.

On the plus side

Although this is not a fun situation to be in, it has a few advantages:

  • Suddenly all colleagues had to upgrade their digital skills, whether they wanted or not. We try to help them as much as possible, but it is ultimately up to them. For many of them it turned out to be just a small hurdle and they are becoming regular users now.
  • Teams (which until now we created very sparingly) is now a standard product for the organization, which means we can move our strategy forward much faster than anticipated.
  • Our online tools for therapy (non-Microsoft) are being rolled out much faster than anticipated.
  • All colleagues feel much more “together” now that we have to face this crisis.
  • It is interesting to see that we can improvise so well when needed.

And me?

For me, the whole situation has not made that much difference yet. Apart from staying at home for at least 23 hours of the day, it has just been a week working from home, like I do normally one day a week. But you may want to ask my husband who suddenly has a wife at home all the time ๐Ÿ˜‰
But who knows how long this will last…and not being able to go outside much or visit family or friends may become rather a strain.

I am still puzzled by all those Team site requests though. The group chat may be a replacement of all the daily talk you do if you are sitting in an office. Well, we are already thinking about doing a survey to see if and how Teams has helped in these “interesting times”…

Stay safe, all!

Title inspired by “Girls, Girls, Girls” from 70-s band Sailor

How to demo your telephone to a large audience

Teams-phonedemoheaderAt the very last “Office365/SharePoint Connect” gathering in Haarlem* I was quite impressed when Rick van Rousselt gave us a demo of Kaizala, sharing his telephone on a large screen.

This may come in useful when we want to provide our colleagues with more information about the Office365 mobile apps. So, I thought I’d write out the steps and practice as I am usually quite clumsy when it comes to connecting devices. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The secret ingredient is…a Teams meeting!

March 2020.
As the next weeks will mean “remote working’ for a lot of people, due to the Corona virus, this may also come in useful if you want to demonstrate a cool new app to a colleague, or for helpdesks to support colleagues who have questions about the workings of a smartphone.ย 

A few days before the demo

  1. Make sure you have the Teams app installed on your presentation laptop and your telephone
  2. Schedule a Teams meeting for the time of the demo
  3. Remove any apps on your mobile that you do not want to show – or move them to a separate page – and check if your phone’s background image is suitable for the audience ๐Ÿ˜‰
  4. Create your demo (what do you want to show and which sequence)
  5. Practice sharing your screen on your phone

The day before the demo

  1. Charge your devices (and a powerbank, to be on the safe side)
  2. Remove screen notifications and sounds to avoid disturbance (or embarrassment – you do not want to know what I have seen during all the years I have been working in multi-location organizations ๐Ÿ™„ ) during your demo
  3. Sign in to both Teams apps with the account you want to use for the demonstration

At the time of the demo

  1. Start well before time, if possible
  2. Connect your laptop to the demonstration screen
  3. Mute the sound on both devices to avoid an irritating reverb
  4. Join the meeting on both devices, without microphone and camera
  5. On your mobile, click the โ€ฆ in the meeting bar and select “Share”

    Teams-phonedemo-start
    Enter a caption
  6. Select “Share screen” (exact words may vary on iOS and Android) and then “Start broadcast”

    Teams-phonedemo-startbroadcast.jpg
    Dutch again! Click on “Start…” to start broadcast.
  7. Wait until your mobile phone is shown on the screen
  8. Go to the content you want to show (on your mobile) and dazzle your audience!

    Teams-phonedemo-both
    It is a bit dark but this is my phone (device left), displayed on my laptop (in the middle),ย  while showing SharePoint News.

8. When your demo is over, open the Teams app and click “Stop broadcast”.

Teams-phonedemo-endbroadcast.jpg
To end, click “Stop…”.

 

Although my (iOS) app tells me that everything is recorded, (it even shows a timer in the red bar on top) it does not mean that a video is created. I guess they mean everything will be shared.

Conclusion

As usual, this is not rocket science, but I thought it might be helpful for myself and for others to share the detailed steps.

Are you ever demonstrating smartphone (apps) to an audience and are you using Teams or something else?

* Office365 and SharePoint Connect, Haarlem/Amsterdam

I am really sad that Office365 and SharePoint Connect will no longer be around, as it was always VERY useful, in a convenient location, well-visited by many people in my network, and not too expensive. Thank you, Nigel and Irene Clapham, for organizing this great event for so many years!