Top 5 Features of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft-Teams-Features

The Backstory

I was a relatively early user of MS Teams.  I loved it.  It was so easy to use and saved me clogging up my emails with attachments sent to colleagues which were then circulated around with numerous copies sitting on various peoples’ C drives.  In those days, we didn’t have some of the exciting Microsoft Teams features that are out now. But it was still a really useful tool for collaboration. 

In this blog, I am not going to take you on a history tour of everything that’s happened in teams in the last few years. I want to highlight some of the quick responses that Microsoft have leapt to within the last few months. 

When we first went into lockdown, everyone was suddenly working from home.  This was a concept that many had never encountered. So many people adopted the simplicity of Zoom Meetings to meet their communications needs.  Even people who were already using MS Teams for other functions did not realise that it was such a powerful conferencing tool. 

When everyone came to realise that it is, what happened?  Teams crashed everywhere!  Microsoft were quick to respond with fixes to make that video experience work but many people remembered bad experiences and could only then see the faults within it.  Initially, only 4 people could be seen on your screen but within a few months, Microsoft developed the ability to see up to 9 members on screen and now up to 49 people at the same time.  Additionally, you don’t have to stare at yourself during a conference in Teams.  Your picture takes lowest priority at the bottom right-hand corner of the window.  Your bad hair/face day is no longer the focus of your attention in a meeting. 

It’s such a shame that the songs and dances about these upgrades are so low profile, barely heard above the noise of the objections about change and simplicity of using other conference solutions.  My advice is to follow the experts on “LinkedIn”.  There you will learn how to adopt the new features and see them in action as well as see what’s coming soon. 

Recent Updates to Microsoft Teams

Recent additions to MS Teams have now caught up and overtaken conferencing features in other products, but many users are still not aware of its capabilities. 

For example, did you know? 

  • You can now pop out a meeting and have it on another screen. This means you can easily access your other areas of MS Teams without the meeting becoming a tiny window. 
  • Appear as though you are all in one room with the “Together” view.
  • You can focus on the shared content being shown on your screen and temporarily switch the distraction of other videos off to aid with concentration using the “Focus” mode. 
  • As a meeting organiser, you can download attendees during the meeting.  It gives you arrival and leaving times.  Currently this has to happen during the meeting but this is set to change in the future. 
  • “Put your hand up” to attract the speakers attention if you need to ask a question or to indicate that you are ready to continue after a break. The meeting organiser will know whose hand was up first and answer in order. 
  • You can pop a “Chat” window out so that you can continue a conversation with someone while you continue with meetings or other Teams Activities.  You can even keep multiple conversations in one place so that they are easy to see. 
  • Manage all your documents through Teams, including version control and restoration of deleted files. 

Cons to Microsoft Teams?

So what don’t I like? 

Well, just as I develop new training material, Microsoft move the goal posts and change how things work or look.  Good for the end user, more screen shots for me to create as a trainer.  Things have moved so quickly in the last few months that I have felt out of date before I can catch up. However, this is not a bad thing…  I am now learning to roll with it and embrace the changes as they happen.  New features are exciting to me (sad I know) and I want to share them with the world as they happen. 

My Top 5 Features in Microsoft Teams

My top 5 favourite things in Teams? 

  • Multi-lingual Text Chats – everyone can use their own language and an English Translation is available instantly for most languages. 
  • I can record a meeting and get a transcript of it that needs little change.  So much better than writing minutes eh? 
  • Teams is very inclusive.  It caters for people with visual and hearing impairment using tools such as immersive reader, closed captions (subtitles to you and me) and dark mode options. These are even useful if you work in a noisy or poorly lit environment. 
  • Video meetings with people outside of my organisation can now be arranged.  I never thought I would want to but it makes the experience much more interactive, particularly in these days of isolation.  I now prefer video to voice calls. Shhh! 
  • I can input some of my own personality into my work.  Stickers, memes and reactions are so important in making my day more enjoyable. 

 

All in all, I am a huge fan, almost an “Evangelist”.  I can do everything from one starting place and help my colleagues and clients without having to buy more software.  Microsoft has been hugely responsive in adapting to the demand and feedback from users.

My tip for you?  Keep investigating. You will be surprised what you can do in MS Teams.  Live Events is a really quick and easy solution to running online conferences.  Some companies buy additional software to do this as they don’t know of its existence.  You already have it in MS Teams!!