Are you getting the most out of Microsoft Teams for meetings? Internal Communications Specialist Lyndsay Ansell shares helpful insights from her experience, including how to prepare, tips for presenting and screen sharing, and boosting impact with complementary tools in the Office 365 suite.
Teams offers a high-quality video conferencing experience with collaborative functionalities to provide a more immersive environment. I have been using it for over a year now and thought I’d share my learnings for anyone who is looking to get the most out of it. Since moving from project management to internal communications, I regularly co-host video meetings to provide useful information to employees across the business. Whether you are scheduling a meeting with a small team or presenting to a large group, here are some of my top Teams video conferencing tips:
1. Have a clear objective for the call and prepare in advance
When I invite people to a video meeting, I always include a breakdown of what it’s about in the body of the invite email. If you are inviting people from different departments across your organisation this is really important. Don’t just include a subject line.
If you are planning on sharing a presentation as part of the call, you can collaborate on this with your co-presenters in advance within Office 365 – ensuring you are all using and editing the latest version.
You may find these applications useful for planning sessions too:
- Meeting notes
These will be saved to a tab in the meeting window once the call has concluded.
- InVision Whiteboard
This is one of my personal favourites for brainstorming. It’s particularly useful for drawing out project workflows or making suggested amendments to diagrams.
- Screen share Microsoft Planner
This could be useful for plotting out a series of calls, and assigning owners and deadlines for presentations.
Finally, if a presenter is dialling in from a remote location, they should check that they will have adequate internet connection in advance.
2. Optimise your devices
I find that having two screens is really helpful. This means you can monitor the call on one screen and set up any content you would like to screen share on the other. This way, you can keep track of any questions that might be sent via instant message, or turn people on mute if they have forgotten to turn their microphones off.
NB: If you are screen sharing, don’t forget to close down any irrelevant windows beforehand (like that restaurant menu you were checking out earlier)!
If you switch between different headsets at home and at work, you will need to double-check that the right device is selected before the call. Use the cog icon in Teams to change the device if necessary.
Turn on background blur
This is a simple yet effective feature in Teams that helps to reduce background distractions, whether you’re in a busy office or at home with a curious cat.
Before you start a meeting, double check that everyone can see your presentation – don’t just assume that they can. Ask the question to the attendees, as people can sometimes be shy to speak up (especially if there is a large number of people on the call).
3. Record your meetings
I highly recommend recording calls for invitees who missed the meeting, and for anyone who might find it interesting at a later stage – new recruits, for example. This is an invaluable feature when you are a global business with employees working in different time zones.
Whilst recorded Skype for Business calls were saved to your local PC, Teams recordings are conveniently saved directly to and stored within Microsoft Stream. Once your recording is ready, you can make it accessible to others and add it to a channel. If you would like to enable video transcription, select the ‘Caption’ option within the video settings. This also helps to make the content of the video searchable afterwards.
4. Keep an eye out for questions through IM
A Teams video call view will default to attendees and screen share. To track questions that may be coming in through instant messaging, click the chat icon at the top of the call window.
5. Keep it brief
For internal communications meetings, I aim to wrap up the call within 45 minutes. Again, planning your content beforehand to ensure you are providing key information and making best use of your time is a must.
6. Allow time for questions at the end
Remember that during the call, most people will have their microphones on mute. If you are asking for questions at the end, wait a few seconds longer than usual.
7. Follow up in Yammer
Once a call is finished, I create a post in Yammer to upload the presentation deck, a link to the recording, and provide a forum for further conversation around the topics covered. People can be shy about asking questions during meetings, so this gives them another opportunity to do so. It also widens the conversation and enables people who might not have been on the call to share their expertise.
If you would like to learn more about using Yammer alongside Teams, I recently explored Yammer vs Teams use cases and shared a handy Yammer community management checklist.
8. Dig into the call analytics
After a video meeting with a large number of invitees, I like to refer to the admin portal within Office 365 to get a clear report on who attended. Sometimes people forget to respond to the original invite but join the call. It can be useful to see who did and didn’t attend, particularly if you’d like to reach out for feedback on the content of the call.
Internal Communications Specialist | Modality Systems
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