A few weeks ago we wrote a 5 in 5 article about the video-conferencing platform Zoom. With so many people using apps such as these, we thought it would only be fair to talk about Microsoft Teams as well. If meeting up with old friends and playing virtual bingo has taught me anything, it’s that everyone has their own preference on which video conferencing platform to use. Personally, I like to have a good range of emoji’s and backgrounds available, but that’s just me.
Microsoft Teams continues to be a particularly popular choice, being available on laptops, tablets and mobile device. This platform allows you to organise meetings, set up group chats as well as help you organise your day to day activities. As before, the 5 in 5 is there to highlight some of the many features and benefits available whilst showing you how to stay safe when using it.
- Microsoft Teams is a free service, however, you will need to create an account with a username and password. You can also access Teams by signing in with a Microsoft Office 365 account if you have one. To get more info on subscriptions click here.
- You must be at least 16 years old to use Microsoft Teams.
- When signed in, you are presented with a dashboard. Here you can start conversations, make video calls, organize your diary and arrange meetings.
- To add contacts just click the ‘Call’ button, select ‘Add Contacts’ and type in the email address or phone number of your chosen person. If you are also using Microsoft Office 365 Outlook, your contacts from here should be made available.
- To start conversations with people, select the ‘New Chat’ button near the top and type in the names you want to include. You will then be able to instant message them, send files/ documents and have the ability to video/ audio call.
- For larger group conversations that may be ongoing such as projects or company departments, you can segregate these into a ‘Team’ which will keep communication separate. You can add as many as you want, just click the ‘Teams’ icon to the left, click ‘Create a Team’ and add in contacts. You can also input a code to join other teams which will be sent to you as an invite by the host.
Hosting Meetings and Video/ Audio Chat
- To start a video call, either create a ‘New Chat’ with the person(s) you want to call or select a previous conversation with them in the ‘Chat’ dashboard to the left. In the top right hand corner, you will see icons to either audio or video call them. Microsoft Teams will then alert the person(s) you are trying to contact who will then need to accept the call in order to make a connection.
- To host a meeting, you can either manage it as above or plan ahead with the diary feature. Select the ‘Calendar’ icon and select the date and time you want. You can input the name of the meeting, the attendees you want to include, the location of the call and add any personal messages. Once finished, your attendees will get an invitation along with a link to access the meeting room. Be careful about how you share the link to your meeting and be careful not to invite unwanted guests.
- Teams also has a ‘Lobby’ feature where you have participants wait until you accept them into the meeting. This can be good to deter unwanted guests.
- You also have the option to mute all participants which can be found in the attendees list.
- As the host, you have the ability to end the meeting at any time.
Attending a Meeting
- To attend a meeting, you will need to click on the link you were sent originally as an invitation.
- You don’t necessarily need a Teams account to attend a meeting. Select Join as a Guest and enter your name to join a meeting your host has arranged. If you have a Teams account, use your log in details to access.
- You can also access your ‘Calendar’, select the appropriate meeting and click ‘Join’
- If someone has already started the meeting, you will get a notification to join.
- Be aware that the ‘Lobby’ feature may be in use which means you will have to wait until you are let in by the host.
- When talking with other’s you have the option to mute your microphone or turn off your camera. You can also share your screen with the rest of the meeting and share files in the chat box.
- If you want to alter your background, click on your Meeting Controls, and click More Actions > Show background effects. You'll have the option to blur your background or choose an image of your liking.
- After a meeting you can make notes on what was discussed, compile files and keep a record of the chat. This can be organised in the ‘Calendar’ under the appropriate date and time of the meeting.
- Always remember: you can leave/ end the call at any time if you feel uncomfortable or no longer wish to participate.
Security & Privacy
- If you have been asked to attend a meeting, always ensure you are aware of who the person is. Do not attend a meeting if you feel uncomfortable.
- If you are using the video feature or share screen option, ensure that your background environment and the content that you share is appropriate.
- To read the Microsoft full privacy statement click here.
- To read the full overview and compliance on Microsoft Teams click here.
If you would like more information on Microsoft Teams or other popular Video Conferencing platforms, you can read our full breakdown of some of the most common ones being used today.