Enhanced Meeting experiences in Teams

Unlike most people, I look forward to the Teams Meetings that we have increasingly attended since working remotely became the norm. Even if the meeting content is not hugely exciting, I’m still happy to interact with real people, see their smiles and body language and (if I’m honest) having a sneak peek inside their homes. For me, that connection is a big deal.  

But as someone who regularly presents or trains online, there are a few challenges in the online meeting experience with achieving buy-in from attendees and keep up engagement levels (sometimes my own!) 

That’s why I’m so excited about two new features introduced at Microsoft Ignite last week that will have a massive impact for trainers, leaders of large teams or broadcasters of Business Meet-ups event. The new Webinars feature will change how your attendees come together, and PowerPoint Live will totally enhance the online sharing experience – for presenters and attendees. 

Webinars 

Webinars are not as large and restricted as Live Events, but more formal than a standard meeting. In fact for many, like my team at Engage Squared, I’m sure they’ll become the Goldilocks of our business meetups .

Hit the dropdown next to New Meeting in the Teams Calendar and you’ll soon see the Webinar option appears between the usual Meeting and Live Event options. 

You can invite other presenters to the webinar and they’ll get a calendar invite. Then you can send the attendee link to your team or market your webinar through email, newsletters or websites such as LinkedIn. To register, those interested in attending click a link which leads to a registration form. After registration, they’ll automatically be sent an email confirmation with buttons to ‘Add to calendar’ and ‘Join the event. This whole process is simpler for the attendee and completely hands-off for the organiser. 

Other features in webinars include: 

  • Chat can be disabled until you’re ready to use it.
  • Up to 1,000 people can attend and enjoy the full experience.
  • Joiners are held in the lobby until the organiser starts the webinar and admits them.
  • When the presenter is ready, they can activate the chat and turn on cameras – just like opening up the floor to the audience.
  • The presenter can unmute and spotlight anyone who raises their hand to ask a question.
  • All the new exciting presentation options are available, including dynamic view, live reactions and hand up.
  • Similarly, the host can mute attendees and disable their cameras so everyone can focus on the content instead of potentially being interrupted by other attendees.
  • If more attendees join, they’ll be able to attend with a ‘broadcast-only’ experience. They’ll see and hear the content without contributing to chat, audio or video.
  • For now, webinars will allow a total of 20,000 attendees. Early next year, there are plans to roll this back to 10,000 when Microsoft expects the demand will decrease.
  • When the webinar is complete, statistics about who attended and how long they stayed are instantly available. These stats will be downloadable and can be moved into Dynamics 365 to take advantage of any future marketing activities.

PowerPoint Live 

The biggest annoyance when sharing PowerPoint decks in the past is that, once I start sharing, I can’t see the people in my meeting or keep an eye on the chat panel. It makes me feel like I’m missing out! Well, Microsoft has heard my cries and have sorted this issue out. And I’m loving it so far. 

With PowerPoint live, you share your decks directly from the Teams meeting control bar and open up a bunch of fabulous new features: 

  • Whilst you are viewing the current slide, you can also see the slide notes and a thumbnail strip of the rest of the slide deck to allow you to jump to any other slide in your presentation.  
  • Also visible are the other participants and the meeting chat, so you’ll always feel connected to your attendees. 
  • When there’s a couple of presenters working from one slide deck, you can allow others to control the slides that you’re sharing.
  • With Presenter view, you’re able to put yourself in the picture for your attendees – appear next to your slides (Side-by-side View), have the slide at your shoulder (Reporter View) or stand in front (Standout View); this allows for a much greater connection to your content. 
  • You can allow your attendees the freedom to move back or ahead through your slide deck, turn on captions or change to high-contrast, and the quality of the visual experience has markedly improved – and actually reduces the bandwidth required! 
  • Any hyperlinks that you include in the slide deck will work for attendees – a great way to lead them to further content. 
  • And, of course, your attendees can provide feedback encouragement through live reactions. And who doesn’t love a little audience appreciation when you’re presenting?? 

You might never enjoy online meetings and webinars as much as I do. But I’m convinced these enhancements will improve your experience when communicating remotely, regardless of whether you’re a presenter or an attendee. 

Enjoy! 

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