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

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?

 

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? 
  • 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. 
  • 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

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.  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”  (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 😮

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 😉
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. 😎

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. 

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 😉
  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 🙄 ) 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 … 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),  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!

Some intranet promotion videos, part 3

Videoheader3As List.ly still has not gotten their act together, please find here another set of intranet promotion videos from Vimeo. Their Help and Community pages have been showing up blank for the past weeks, so I am very afraid that I will have to move my video collection elsewhere – again 😦

1. Landmark Intranet Teaser (SharePoint)

A short teaser for a new intranet set to launch about now.  This video does not go beyond the corporate part (news, events, video) but it is always nice to see another SharePoint home page. This is a UK commercial real estate company.
Uploaded February 2020.

 

2. Backpack

Backpack, what a nice name for an intranet for a series of private schools in the USA! This is a demo – slightly on the long side (5 mins) but it has some nice features, such as the ability to select or suggest apps. Also, the presenters are chatty and relaxed which is nice to listen to.
It uses Office365 for document management but not for the intranet pages. 
Uploaded January 2020.

 

3. Social Intranet RM IT

Silent demo for the intranet of a Swiss recruitment agency. Nice colours (completely different from their website, and not a company logo in sight) and the usual stuff. I am not so happy with the name “Wiki” for corporate policies (as the word “wiki” suggests to me that documentation is still in the crowdsourcing phase) but I know people will not agree with me 🙂
Uploaded February 2020.

4. Intranet launch Claro (in Spanish)

Upbeat teaser/demo for the intranet of an Argentinian telecommunications company. It looks nice and is accessible on all devices. I could not see that many details.
Uploaded February 2020/

 

5. Intranet relaunch Ricola (in German)

Very on-brand mockup design. The new intranet for this Swiss herbal sweets manufacturer has workspaces (collaboration spaces to reduce emails and paper), a community for help with the intranet, search function etc.
Uploaded February 2020.

 

 

 

7 ways to re-use texts in Office 365

Template headerDo you have to write the same text time and time again? For instance, an email confirming an appointment, a work instruction or an in-company invoice?

There are a few ways to do that.

1. Re-use and existing mail or document

I guess this feels as the easiest way. But how often have you forgotten to remove the “FW” when you forwarded that email, or forgot to change the salutation? And have you ever overwritten and saved a document that you wanted to keep intact?

Yeah, thought so 🙂

2. Store the text in Word or OneNote and copy-paste

You will have fewer accidents with this option, but now you may suffer from extensive but invisible make-up. This may cause your texts to have weird indents or line spacing when you have pasted them. The best way to strip off the code is to copy-paste to Notepad and then into the final message, but this is often forgotten and also not 100% guaranteed.
Besides, you will have to store that document or note and look for it whenever you need it.

3. Email template – text only

An easy way to manage your email texts is with an email template. That lives in Outlook so it is easily available when you need it – no need to search!
You can create as many templates as you want. You can store about 2100 characters in a template.

Outlook Client/Desktop:

  1. Open new email
  2. In the ribbon, top right, click the … and select “View Templates” from the popup

    Templates-OfficeClient
    Find your email templates in the Outlook Client
  3. You will see a few standard templates

    Templates-MyTemplates
    Standard email templates in the Outlook Client and the place to add a new one
  4. To create a new template, click on +Template
  5. Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”

    Template-newtemplate
    Give your template a good name and add the text (and any embellishments)
  6. To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.

    Templates-Applied
    Adding the text to your email is very easy! 

Outlook Online – Current Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Bottom right, click the Templates icon
  3. Proceed with 3 as above

    Templates-OnlineOld
    The Templates icon is bottom right in Outlook Online – it’s highlighted in yellow! 

Outlook Online – The new Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
  3. Proceed with 3 as above

    Templates-OnlineNew
    When you are using the New Outlook Online, you will need to click the …

4. Email template – text and make-up (Outlook Client)

If you need to use a template that contains both text and make-up, for instance for an email newsletter or other format, you can do this in Outlook Client/Desktop. It is a much more complicated process, so I would suggest to use this only if the look-and-feel is important and needs to be consistent.
BTW, you get a free email Newsletter when you use SharePoint News, of course, but for all those other occasions this option will be useful.

Microsoft has good instructions on how to create and save a template. It includes sending an email using the template as well.

5. Email signature

Before I discovered the templates, I used to store repetitive texts in an email signature. I have shared dial-in information for my personal Live Meeting (I think that was what web conferencing was called in those days 🙂 ), and shared help and support information in that way. Although I only use templates now, there may be cases where you prefer an email signature.

Outlook Client/Desktop

Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures.  However the screenshots are a tad outdated. Now, you either use “Tell me what you want to do” or open a new email and click the Insert tab > Signature” to get to the signatures location.

You can have multiple signatures in the Outlook Client, but please be aware you can only add one per email, so always make sure your name and other information is included.

Templates-Clientsignature
How to add a signature in the Outlook Client

Outlook Online – current Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
  3. Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

    Template-signatureoldoutlook
    In current Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature
  5. To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”

Outlook Online – the New Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
  3. Select “Compose and Reply”

    Templates-NewOutlook-Signature
    In the new Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature 
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

Please note you can only have one signature in Outlook Online.

6.  Document template in SharePoint – general

You can add a template to a SharePoint document library for your team’s recurring documents. Think about reports or work instructions. You can do this for all Microsoft documents and you can have multiple templates in one library.
Anyone who can manage the document library can do this, so you will need at least Edit permissions.

I use and suggest this very often right now and wish it was also available in OneDrive!

  1. Create the document you want to use as a template and save it with a meaningful name – it may help to add “template” to the name
  2. Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”

    template-SPNew
    Where to add the template
  3. Upload the template
  4. Check that it displays correctly.

    Templates-SPAdded
    Giving a good name is important – you will want to notice the template easily
  5. To create a new document in the template, click “New” in the Document Library and select the template. A new instance of the template will open.
  6. To move position of the template, or to make changes to the template itself, click “New” > “Edit New menu”. A popup will appear on the right-hand side of the page.
    Hover over the document to be removed, repositioned or edited, click the three dots that appear to the right of the name and you will get a popup with options.

    Template-SPeditmenu
    Editing, deleting or changing the position of the template is very easily done 

7. Document template in SharePoint – custom

It is also possible to add a custom template document as the default document. I can imagine this may have its uses when you want to use it for very formal documents, such as contracts or financial reporting. Those documents will have a strict format that needs to be adhered to.
In that case you can do that via the Library Settings > Advanced Settings. Microsoft describes the steps here. Although they mention SharePoint Online, they talk about “email-enabling” the library, which has been deprecated for several years by now, so I wonder when this has been last reviewed. (Of course I gave feedback to this article)

This needs Site Owner permissions but may also be done by an admin or IT.

Have I forgotten an option? Please let me know!

Image by Cohdra on Morguefile.com

 

How did I get here?

Decorative picture of a diverging path

We have recently seen some blogs about how most of us rolled into this work. (e.g. Mark Jones, Gregory Zelfond, Veronique Palmer, Simon Terry and Simon Allison )

So I thought to share my story, triggered by the workshop that Steve Bynghall and Chris Tubb hosted at the recent edition of IntranetNow. They showed their newly developed “Intranet and Digital Workplace Skills Matrix” which can be used to help teams determine if all relevant skills are covered and if not, which gaps need to be filled.
But…it can also be a useful and fun exercise for yourself. In the workshop, Steve and Chris asked us to mark those boxes where we have experience. It was interesting to see that I have worked in each of the 5 categories and I think I was the only one who could say that. I usually describe my work as “helping people with using SharePoint and Office365” but within that definition I appear to have had very different roles over the years.
So, as an example of how to get insight in your own career, let me share my career path with you:

1. Knowledge Management

After 20 years in new (food) product development, I started a role in Knowledge Management in the same organization, which at that time focused on new product development. Part of the project meant I had to share the outcomes on the intranet. This ticked a number of boxes in the Content and Communication “arm” mainly.

Skills for this role: Writing and editing, Content management, Content publishing, Content design and some Information architecture.
The skills I needed in my Knowledge Management role

2. Intranet adoption (awareness and training)

During my Knowledge Management project I met the intranet team and they asked me to help them create more awareness and use of the intranet. In this role I tried to make people aware of the intranet and how people could use it for themselves. I also did some basic troubleshooting, support and training. At that time (around 2003 or so) intranets were generally custom-built and options were limited – apart from a Frontpage website, a home-built “document cabinet” and a Forum tool there was not much else. Still, in an international organization even these limited tools helped to share information with colleagues in other locations and businesses, so a number of people were very active on the intranet.
The boxes ticked made a shift to the right.

Skills in this role: Faciliating training and support, Operational governance, Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, Incident and problem management, Information architecture.
Skillset moving to the right in my second role.

3. Intranet adoption (configuration)

Then we moved to a SharePoint (2003) intranet and found so many options to help employees, that we decided to act as internal consultants, identifying painful processes and configuring sites to facilitate the processes and make them more efficient. I have blogged about this earlier:
That was a wonderful job which taught me a great deal about business processes AND about SharePoint!

In this role I used the following skills: Tacit knowledge management, Facilitator training and support. Operational governance,Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, Incident and problem management, IT change management, Business analysis and requirement specification, Information architecture, Visual design, User testing, Accessibility
Business Analysis and requirements specification was a large part of my third role.

4. SharePoint site collection manager

After being made redundant as result of a reorganization, I found another job at a multinational organization. My role was to act as the site collection administrator, making sure procedures around customizatons were adhered to, the site collection did not grow too large (yes dear reader, in that 2007 SharePoint each site collection was allowed 2 GB, which is not much in current standards), doing housekeeping on empty sites etc. I also configured sites, did troubleshooting and gave advice and trainings.

The skills I needed in this role: Writing and editing, Content publishing, Content design, Facilitating training and support, Operational governance, measurement an improvement, stakeholder management, Incident and problem management, Business analysis and requirements specification, Information architecture, Visual Design and Accessibility.
I was quite a Jack-of-all-trades in this role 🙂

5. SharePoint, Yammer, Video support

When we had launched our new intranet on SharePoint Online, I was part of the support team, figuring out issues with permissions, document management, pages and web parts, Yammer and Video. I also curated and created help materials and was in charge of a successful Yammer group on Office365, where we answered questions and informed people about changes in functionality or issues, and where people shared tips and tricks.

For this role I needed the following skills: Content publishing, Curation and tagging, Facilitating training and support, Community development, Operational governance, Incident and problem management, Information architecture and Accessibility.
Curation and community development were new skills I needed in this role

6. Office 365 adoption

My last role at that organization was to help people use the various elements of their digital workplace. The focus was on Office 365 but other all-employee tools were in scope as well, such as Adobe Creative suite license changes and a new password reset system. I was helping with software launches and changes by figuring out how much and what type of adoption effort was needed, finding help materials (or creating them if they were not available) and providing communication and training to local support people.

For this role I needed Curation and tagging, Facilitator training and support, Community Development, Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, IT change management, IT strategy, User testing.
My Office 365 adoption role skills

7. Office 365 functional management

A few months ago I had the opportunity to change jobs..in a big way! After 35 years of working in multinational commercial manufacturing organizations, I now work in an all-Dutch mental health care organization.
I am still providing second line support, I am an Office 365 portal administrator, I help people understand all tools within Office 365, I invent solutions for awkward processes, I create training materials if I can not find them in Dutch, co-decide which of the endless changes in functionality needs to be communicated, and everything else about Office 365.
So, which boxes have I ticked? Check it out:

For this role I need Publisher coordination and coaching, Curation and tagging, Collaboration strategy, Facilitator training and support, Community development, Operational governance, Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, Incident an problem management, IT change management, Platform management, Business analysis and requirement specification, System development.configuration, IT strategy, Information architecture and Accessibility.
Currently needed skills – quite a wide range, which is great!

Conclusion

You can see some skills coming back in almost every role. Of course I have my personal interests that I try to incorporate into each role. But also my (then) existing skillset and earlier experience have influenced the boxes that I have selected. I always try to create a role with maximum interest and learning opportunities for myself.
I can heartily recommend this to get an insight into your own career. Give it a try!

Image courtesy of James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Reaching beyond the usual suspects

IntranetNowBlogheaderOn October 5 I participated in IntranetNow in London. I presented there, and thought it would be nice to create a write-up in my blog, with some images from my presentation. If you prefer the PowerPoint variety, please check out my presentation on the IntranetNow SlideShare.

What brought this on?

Recently we introduced a new intranet (Publishing and team sites) to the organization.

Blog-changes
A overview of the old (left) and the new situation (right). Lots of changes!

We went from a SharePoint 2007 environment on-prem, to SharePoint Online in the cloud. That alone was a big change.

Our old platform was created 10 years before, when the organization was still very decentralized, and people could do on the platform whatever they wanted (which they did) as long as they did not break it (which they did…sometimes 🙂 ).
The new intranet is strictly governed, as there is now a strong central Security and Compliance team, strong Enterprise Architecture, many Governance Boards and Steering Committees and of course our new landlord Microsoft, and they all tell us what people can do and what not.

Additionally, we went from being one large company to two companies and we reorganized as well.

Challenges

We knew we were going to make a big change, so we secured the help of our “usual suspects”, a small group of people active on Yammer, and a small group of active content owners. They kindly agreed to be our Champions, helping us launch the new intranet to their circles of influence.

However, many of them left the organization during the project, or moved to another job, due to the reorganizations. So we were left with an even smaller group of “usual suspects”.

We tried to make up for it by increasing the communications:

  • Yammer messages and YamJams
  • News articles and Newsletters
  • Webinars with demos and question time
  • Local sessions to inform people
  • Emails to site owners
  • Creating training

But well, you know how it goes:

  • People do not always read or act upon communications
  • People only learn when they have a need, so many people left the learning until they had their new intranet and their new site(s).

So despite our efforts, this is more or less how people reacted when they saw their new tools for the first time:

Chaos wallpaper2.png
Sadly I do not know the creator of this wonderful image, but I have used it anyway since it is the best I could find to depict the response of the audience…

People were confused, did not know where to find their content, how to manage their sites, how to navigate, etc.

Action needed!

Well, if you want to implement a new effective digital workplace, this may not be the best response. So we introduced a new role into the organization: the Adoption Consultant. It is their role to make sure that employees

  • know what the DW is,
  • can use it to their advantage
  • and like it, so they will promote it and help others use it

Within this organization, the DW consists of the Office 365 suite plus a few other tools available for all employees.

So we are currently embedding this process into the organization:

Blog-cycle
The Process

  • There is a UX manager who runs a survey with 1/12 of employees every month, asking for user feedback about all IT tools and services.
    There are other sources for feedback (Yammer, support tickets, etc.) but the survey is the most formal one.
  • He turns the responses into usable data and insights.
  • If something relates to the Digital Workplace, he asks the Adoption Consultants to help with it. They determine which remediation actions need to be taken.
    New functionality will also be handled by the Adoption Consultants, as some projects have the objective to “get the software installed on people’s machines” without thinking beyond that point…
    So they think about whether extensive communication and training sessions are needed, or if a link to the help materials of the vendor is sufficient, or anything in between.
  • By implementing those actions it is expected that the complaints and remarks about this topic will be reduced.

Yeah, interesting picture, but what does that mean in practice?

Users: “I can not find anything on the intranet”

UX Manager: “We have found that “I can not find anything on the intranet” is in the Top 3 of complaints for the past months. Adoption Consultants, would you please look into this”?

Adoption Consultants:  “What does it mean exactly, “I can not find information on the intranet”? Do people not know how to search? Are they looking for information that is not there? Do they not know how to navigate?”
* arrange interviews with a selection of complainers*

Adoption Consultant: After some discussions I think

  • We will need to create a campaign to inform people about the options available in Search.
  • We need to suggest to this department that they properly archive their outdated procedures and provide more meaningful and descriptive titles and tagging for their current content.
  • We need to discuss federating SharePoint Search, as some people appear to be looking for content which lives in our IT service system.

What else have we done so far?

  • We have given “Digital Workplace roadshows” in various locations across the world, explaining what the Digital Workplace is and how people can best use it. These have been received really well.
  • We have started a campaign about the different options of Search, update your profile, etc.
  • We manage a “Digital Workplace” group on Yammer as THE place for discussion. This is really well-used and popular.
  • We have created procedures to communicate consistently about projects that bring new functionality to the organization, using consistent channels (such as that Yammer group).
  • We are working with local focal points as they know more about their specific situation.

What are the results?

As we have only started this role last July, we have not accomplished a reduction in unfavourable feedback from the employee survey. But we have achieved a few things:

  1. Through the roadshows, we have met a number of new enthusiastic content owners, willing to help their circle of influence with the new Digital Workplace
  2. Interviews with colleagues who responded in the survey have revealed unexpected and useful feedback.

And that survey…we will do our best to improve the results over time!

7 Risks of Copy To and Move To (in SharePoint Online)

In my earlier post, I explained what happens when you use Copy To and Move To. CopyMove-Risks

I really like using it, but of course there are some risks too, especially because it is very easy to do.
I have already encountered the first casualties and I assume many more will follow.

So here are some things that I think are a tad dangerous:

  1. Even people with only “Read” permissions can Copy your content to a site they have more permissions to, or to their OneDrive. What does this do for “one version of the truth”?
  2. It is now very easy to Copy confidential content to a location with a completely different audience.
  3. People with Contribute or Edit in your site can Move documents to another site and delete them from your site.
    This has been a recent issue with one of my users. He reported that he had lost a large part of his site’s content and did not know what had happened. Fortunately I found his (200+) documents in the Recycle Bin. They had all been deleted by the same person, in a time span of about 5 minutes. I still do not know if that person had really used the Move option, but it is plausible.
  4. There is no way for you, as a site owner, to see if content has been Copied to a different site.
    You can see in the Document Information Pane if people have deleted content. You could also set an Alert for Deleted Items, so you know quickly if an unexpected large number of documents has been deleted and you can ask the deleter if they have Moved content. But for Copy…no option.
  5. As far as I know, there is no option for the site collection admins to see what has happened, except when documents that have been deleted are mentioned in the Document Information Pane or show up in the Recycle Bin. (Please let me know if you have found how to do it – a third-party tool perhaps?)
  6. You can lose metadata and versions if the target contains fewer than the source. With the new versioning settings the latter will probably not cause many issues.
  7. You can break links as I found out recently. I moved some documents around because I wanted to combine some libraries and I had forgotten these were accessed from Promoted Links. Duh! 🙂

How to counteract:

1. Give everyone only the permissions they really need

Making sure every person has the correct permissions is getting more and more important.
With the defaults for sharing and access requests set to give people “Contribute” or “Edit” permissions accidents with Copy or Move are more likely to happen.
Delve, that shows you potentially interesting information that you have access to, makes this part of site ownership even more important!
I often use an extra permissions set called “Contribute without Delete” which means people can Read, Add and Edit but only the Site Owner can delete content. That reduces the likelihood of content disappearing.

2. Inform users how Copy To and Move To work

If your users know how this works, they may be more aware what they are doing. Perhaps this picture helps to convey quickly what happens.

CopyMove-Versions

3. Inform users of the confidentiality of your content

Always make your site’s audience aware of the confidentiality status of your content. Not everyone may realize that some content (such as new brand names, prices or competitor info) may damage your company, should it fall into the wrong hands.
Tell your audience which content should not be shared and copied, and what the consequences could be if they do, both for the company and perhaps even for themselves.

4. Set Alerts for deleted items

You may want to set an Alert for content that is deleted, so you are warned when you see an unexpected large amount of deletions, for instance. As you can not restore the content someone else has deleted, contact your support team as quickly as possible to restore the content.

Of course I am curious to learn which issues you have encountered, and how you have solved those!

Image by Glenn Wallace on Flickr.